Indian handicrafts are a centuries old tradition and sector. According to IBEF, the country has 744 handicraft clusters employing around 2 lakhs artisans. The government also has initiatives like the National Handicraft Development Programme to encourage this art form. Despite all this, the artisans are confronted with a few major pain points.
While working on a project in college, Megha Joshi and Abhinav Agarwal found that the terracotta handicrafts industry had three major issues- the dying of the art form, the high commissions from middlemen, and the finishing glaze.
Terracotta products that are usually available in the market are finished with glaze. This means these products have a layer of melted glass as the topmost layer. While this makes it easier to clean the vessels, it is not just harmful to the health of the individual using it but also damaging to the environment.
Apart from this, the artisans face high commissions from middlemen- almost 60-70% – for the sales of their product. The centuries-old art form has been dying due to such issues and experienced artisans are switching to work as daily wage workers to sustain a livelihood.
Realizing the intensity of the problem and seeing an opportunity to bridge the gaps, the duo scaled Mittihub from a college project to a startup.
Joshi and Agarwal started Mittihub in 2021 as a platform offering eco-friendly handmade terracotta products. Working with 25 artisan families situated across Rajasthan, Haryana, and Jaipur, it sees an average of 10-15 orders per day. The platform currently has over 70 stock keeping units.
Before onboarding an artisan family to the platform, they sit through a 15-day training program that is taught by a master artisan. The program guides the artists on how to produce a finished product with the use of semi-precious stone as an alternative to the industry made glaze finish. A semi-precious stone finish helps maintain the natural texture of terracotta and easily breaks down into the soil.
Although Mittihub mainly does B2C, it recently started taking in B2B orders in February. So far it has fulfilled around 10 large orders from resorts, hotels etc and has seen over 1200 B2C orders with a 30% repeat rate.
In FY21 the company saw a revenue of Rs 10 lakhs and Rs 15 lakhs was recorded as the company’s revenue in FY22. The bootstrapped company has a CRR of Rs 30 lakhs. Agarwal, CEO and co-founder of the company, said that they currently do not have plans of raising their maiden round. He added that their focus for the moment was to increase traction and sales.
Apart from its platform, Mittihub is currently available on Amazon Karigar, Amazon US, and has recently partnered with Walmart to display the products in stores. The company is currently in works to get approval to list the product on Amazon UAE.