TheCconnects: Can you tell our readers a little about your professional journey & how did you come to your current role/position?
Navneet Chandan: I started with my venture Lokaci during my college days. The idea came from the personal pain of waiting for more than an hour just to get a 20 minutes haircut and being overcharged for it. I decided to research the matter and come up with a prospect that brings the service providers and the customers closer. Through my field research, I was able to understand the pain points of Salon owners and customers and on the basis of that come up with the Lokaci App. Lokaci is a real-time salon booking appointment platform that helps customers find the best salon nearby them. The customer can check the slot availability status on a real-time basis.
At the age of 19, I left IIT Delhi in my final year to focus on developing my project. . It’s been 5 years and since then we have added 1600+ Salon Partners, 90000+ Customers, and 20000+ Stylists on our platform.
TheCconnects: Who has influenced you the most in life and why?
Navneet Chandan: I am a diehard fan of Iron Man. Apart from the movie, the personality of Tony Stark aka Iron Man had influenced me a lot. Beyond the movie, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, had a big impact on my personality. For Indian salon barbers and stylists, I want to create Lokaci in the same manner as Tony Stark’s JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System). With the aid of a single application, anyone located in any location in India would be able to manage their business, book salon appointments, and grab career opportunities. This would bring standardization to the Indian salon industry and give power to the Tier 3 Salon Owners and Beauty aspirants from small towns.
TheCconnects: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your life & how did you overcome them?
Navneet Chandan: Making Tier-3 or small barbers use the current technology to run their businesses was one of my biggest challenges. Without the aid of any digital tools, small salon owners have always operated their businesses in an old-fashioned way. They continue to rely on word-of-mouth advertising and a select local customer base. Some of them were not even familiar with how to use smartphones and were worried about their data being shared.
It took multiple salon visits and explanations to make them use the app and adapt to modern technology, Now, the situation is reversed. As our salon partners had become pros in using our app and utilizing each feature to run and grow their businesses.
TheCconnects: What lessons have you learned from your professional career?
Navneet Chandan: Consistency and showing up every single day is the only key to building a successful company or career. There may be days when you feel like giving up, but you must always keep in mind what motivated you to begin with or what would happen if you gave up right away. Learning and growing through life and facing every obstacle with a positive mindset can only help in growth.
Find the wisest people in the room to learn from and become an inspiration for others to grow as we can only grow when people around us i.e. Our team grow with us.
TheCconnects: What do you see as the biggest challenge for brands in the digital space?
Navneet Chandan: It’s getting very crowded. Every company is spending its funds on digital ads, social media marketing, and influencer marketing. Thus making it difficult for a brand to stand out and have an impact on the mind of its audience. Brands must constantly introduce new content to the digital space in order to connect with consumers and gain their business. This is the biggest hurdle for startups with limited funds and who are looking to use digital space to grow their business.
Brands must create engaging campaigns and content to draw in customers if they want to make use of the digital space.
TheCconnects: How your product/solution can help to resolve the pain points of your customers?
Navneet Chandan: Currently, we have two products: Lokaci and Stylelink:
This is how our products resolve the pain point of our customers:
1. Give customers the power to get quality salon services within their budget, at the scheduled time, and from trained/professional/skilled stylists.
2. A Salon Barber in a remote region can use modern technology to grow, compete, and earn well.
3. Empower beauty aspirants and stylists not only from Tier – 1 cities, but also from small towns/villages, especially ladies to get trained in the finest beauty/salon courses, get an international-level certificate, and a guaranteed opportunity for a job in the industry at affordable cost.
TheCconnects: Do you have any advice for those who want to become a chief executive officer?
Navneet Chandan: Although being a chief executive officer sounds fancy, it isn’t simple. Your customers, team, and colleagues, everyone is dependent on your decisions and course of action. Everyone looks at you with the hope that you are the one that will always find out the solution when they fail to find one, that you’ll always be holding them back in their professional as well as personal lives sometimes, you can’t let them down. You’ll have that responsibility, and if you are ready to take that one, you are a true leader.
Every single day is different, but you have to keep a positive mindset to make your project a reality and improve the lives of everyone associated with it. Be competitive and have a growth mindset, but don’t rush to the top of the ladder. Instead, take your time and learn enough about your industry and your product to be able to make informed decisions that will help your business and your team members grow.
TheCconnects: How was your experience with YC?
Navneet Chandan: Please go through this article: The Interview | The YC Experience
TheCconnects: When did you decide to drop out of IIT Delhi?
Navneet Chandan: In the final year of my college, when everyone was preparing for the college placement, I was taking the necessary actions to take my vision forward. IIT Delhi had given me an exceptional atmosphere to learn and utilize my skills to their full potential. I knew in order to make my venture successful, I need to step out and gain from the experiences of the real world.
I had to calculate the risk on multiple fronts. Firstly, dropping out wouldn’t make me leave the college premises immediately as I would still be able to utilize the hostel and college premises for one year as free office space. Secondly, I wouldn’t have to stress about my regular attendance or academic requirements.
TheCconnects: What is your advice to young college students who are looking to start their own venture?
Navneet Chandan: If you have a disruptive idea, make sure to conduct proper market research before diving into it. First, try understanding the pain points of the customers and available alternatives. Once you have the data on this, try figuring out what unique solution you could offer to them which would help them. Many students are getting attracted to startup culture because of the fancy jargon used these days. Entrepreneurship is not an easy journey, it comes with many sacrifices and tons of hard work. If you are 110% sure of your idea, go ahead and nailed it.