Meet Aman Khurana, a seasoned digital expert and entrepreneur. Aman started his career as a technical consultant and founded his first business, Mind Action, in 2012. He is now the Co-Founder of GoInStore, a company disrupting online shopping and retail spaces simultaneously. They have built sophisticated technology which enables consumers to interact with shop assistants in store, ask questions, browse through products and get real time human service without having to leave the comfort of their home. Aman has spent the last 5 years in the e-commerce retail space and reveals what it really takes to be an entrepreneur and offers hard hitting truths, insight and value.
Getting to Know Aman
What spurred you to pursue entrepreneurship and leave the safety of your job?
It stems from childhood or maybe even before that. Perhaps we’re pre-conditioned and are born with certain aspirations, traits and beliefs. My family have always been in business and from a young age I was always very entrepreneurial. Aged 6 I set up a small charity business at primary school where I wrote to wildlife organisations who would send me promotional goods, which I would then sell and donate the money back to charity. I’ve always had an unwavering belief that I can do whatever I set my mind to. There are many things in my life I haven’t done very well, but for those things I believe I didn’t really enjoy them or put my mind to it. Anyone in the world can achieve what they want if you work hard enough, regardless of who you are or where you were born. However, the pre-requisite is the unwavering self-belief in yourself.
“Anyone in the world can achieve what they want if they work hard enough, regardless of who they are or where they were born. The pre-requisite is unwavering self-belief.”
What values were instilled in you as a child?
My father is very risk averse whereas my mother is the complete opposite. The amount of risk I’m prone to is definitely further in line with my mother’s exposure to risk. My father would often discourage me from taking high risks and instead encourage me to go for the safer option, yet my mother instilled the belief in me that, despite the risk taken, everything will work out well in the end. This gave me the ammunition to really push myself. That being said, you have to be careful not to step over the boundary and enter the territory of arrogance and over confidence. If you have a blind belief in something, sometimes you can continue to pursue something which was never going to work well. Your self-belief must therefore be tapered off with knowledge and experience. You need proof and evidence that what you’re about to do is something you are capable of succeeding in.
“Self-belief must be tapered off with knowledge and experience. You need proof and evidence that what you’re about to do is something you are capable of succeeding in.”
What was your mission when founding GoInStore?
The company was founded on the premise that the online retail experience faced by consumers is not as good as the in-store experience. This is clearly shown by the metrics used by businesses to measure their success, such as conversion rates. In-store conversion rates are typically ten times higher than online conversion rates. We found that face to face interaction was the main element of the in-store experience helping conversion rates to hit the heavy heights. We therefore wanted to bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping by enabling face to face interactions through technology, with the result of increased conversion rates for online retailers.
“We therefore wanted to bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping by enabling face to face interactions through technology, with the result of increased conversion rates for online retailers.”
Why are your offices in the heart of Camden?
If you invest in the right workspace then you provide the right mentality for your employees. It was crucial to find a workspace which enabled us to look forward to coming to work in the morning. This positive vibe then becomes present among all team members. Although we’re paying a premium to be where we are, we believe the end result will be worth it. London’s become a dominant start-up hub over the past few years and you’ll find high concentrations of start-ups in certain places within the city. Camden is up and coming whilst also keeping its roots, which reflects the ethos of our company; we like to keep our roots and remain true to ourselves whilst we evolve and grow with technology.
How was GoInStore initially funded?
Through mine and my Co-Founders savings. We both made a lot of sacrifices. I used to live in a lovely flat in Marylebone which I paid an extortionate amount of money for, but I could no longer afford such a luxury, so I moved back in with my parents. We also had to grow a team with just our savings, meaning the developer who created our demo is now our CTO after we offered him equity rather than payment for his work; he’s incredible at what he does.
“I used to live in a lovely flat in Marylebone which I paid an extortionate amount of money for, but I could no longer afford such a luxury, so I moved back in with my parents.”
How does the millennial mind-set affect the way consumers shop online and in store?
This generation of individuals have grown up differently to the previous generations. They were born with the internet around them; they didn’t have to pull out the Britannia Encyclopedia for their school projects. From a consumer point of view, this means there are a whole cohort of people who expect to do absolutely everything online and attain human help through online communications. At the moment, the retail sector is not as advanced when it comes to communicating with real human beings. There is very little face to face interaction enabled through technology for online shopping. That’s where GoInStore came into the equation to address the problem. So although the demand from millennials can be seen as a challenge, if you are a disruptive business in an industry which needs to offer more to millennials, then overcoming the challenge is a satisfying approach to enhancing the consumer experience.
What’s your view on traditional working hours?
I have always worked by my own hours, regardless of what the employer imposes. Sometimes I would rock up at 11am because I knew I wouldn’t be leaving until 9pm. I truly believed I should work to a pattern that makes me more productive. Thankfully, I work in sales where your performance metrics are tracked and my figures have always excelled. For that reason, I was never sacked for working ludicrously non-traditional hours. In fact, I’ve always been promoted. I make sure I hit the targets needed. I don’t know who decided that the working world should function Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm but I’m sure whoever enforced it has a lot to say for themselves. Having said that, the one and only time I went by the rules was when I moved into a management position and I was told it would affect my relationship with the team if I was arriving and leaving at different hours to them.
How do you maintain a personal life?
I take a conscious step back every so often. I sit there for half an hour and analyse my day. I look at my calendar to assess how my time is structured and what I’ve got planned ahead. My sister is great at letting me know how long it’s been since I’ve seen my niece and my mother does the same if we haven’t sat down for a family meal together. Usually I see my niece on a weekly basis but I’ve had periods of 3 or 4 months where I haven’t seen her, which I know is not healthy. There’s no point striving to achieve everything you want business wise if you’re not happy and if you’re not healthy.
“There’s no point striving to achieve everything you want business wise if you’re not happy and if you’re not healthy.”
Rebel Wrap Up
If you could go back to any point in your life, which moment would it be?
When I split up with my first ever girlfriend. I would tell myself ‘it will all be alright in the end’, which is the mantra I now use every day.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do the right thing as much as you can and be good to people.
What advice would you give to anyone reading this?
Follow your dreams, follow your heart and do what you need to do, but don’t forget how hard you will have to work to get there. Always analyse what the most important things in your life are weigh it up against the sacrifices you’re making to get there. Do it, focus on it and don’t let anyone put you off your dreams and ambitions. As long as you work hard and continue to do what you’ve got to do, you will succeed.