In an age where hashtag ‘Travel’ rules fiercely in your life, ClayPlay’s positioning in the new travel age is awesome to say the least. A travel concierge, as it likes to call itself, ClayPlay is luring in eyeballs not just in the country but across the globe. The brand aims to be the face for customers whom they can look upto for their fuss free travel plans — even when they go wrong.
If you seek the reason for their astounding growth in precisely three months, you’ll find two words: simplification and personalization.
If you, however, ask the founders for the defining reason of this overwhelming response from regions across the seven seas, they’ll give you only one word: Faith.
“If there is anything I would like to give credits to, it’d be my wife’s faith. I can give you reasons, which would be a tick for an investment deal, but to be honest it will not be the truth. We had everything and we were nowhere. When we had nothing, we were blessed with more than we could ask for. It’s crazy to witness a new miracle everyday — because we are! ClayPlay is a story of miracles and we are grateful for it everyday, ” says Newton Raj, the co-founder of ClayPlay.
The Birth of ClayPlay
In 2014, Newton was working in Emirates and Charmine, his wife was well-settled in a finance MNC. But settled is not the same as conquering — and so the idea of ClayPlay sparked off the minds of these two in the same year. Eventually by 2015, both would leave their job, take a heavy debt, and kickoff ClayPlay.
With its launch in 2015, ClayPlay received a warm recognition from the biz world along with one from Economic Times in its early days. Soon, it secured a seed funding too. To lure in attraction and traffic, ClayPlay went with the buzz trend and invested in all types of marketing campaigns.
And while it had a turnover of INR 75 lacs in its eight months along with a decent revenue of INR 4–5 lacs, no one was quite ready to invest in their next round of funding.
And so, eventually, the downfall began.
The Downfall of ClayPlay
In months to come, they ran out of money, bid their staff a humble goodbye and with a heavy heart sent an official mail to their investors of their inability to pay back. While there were staff and clients which held on to them for their trust, there were others who didn’t hesitate to accuse them; both in front and behind their backs.
“I like to call it ‘Valley of Death’ experience.” says Newton.
While Newton went on to shut operations asking his wife to “wake up and smell the coffee”, Charmine held on to the belief that “God couldn’t bring us this far for nothing.”
And so it happened.
The Kickass Return of ClayPlay
“I remember the moment when we were in a park with our daughter and I received a call from my investor — “I have faith in you guys. Here is the money for you.” We had tears in our eyes because although he had asked how much would we need to revive and we quoted 30% of what he had lent, we were obviously not expecting anything from an investor whom we had failed to repay,” recalls Newton in a candid conversation with myHQ.
This was the first miracle.
Being advised not to run after investment, ClayPlay decided to make it self-sustainable this time around. Cutting on the frivolous, the idea was to do things their own way rather than follow the quintessential trends.
Going back to the basics
By their own admission, ClayPlay had an extensive planned website in their first tenure. The essentials of success listed by the startup world had been planted up on the walls of their website like decor items — pretty to look, not so pretty to use.
Cutting down the website to basics, ClayPlay retained one of its most loved feature — ‘Live Chat’. It was quick, fuss-free and relieved the customers from annoying follow up calls and e-mails. Little did they knew that this will go on to become one of the key USP to lure in customers.
With a simplified product, bare essential funds and decent recognition, this time around, there were no extensive marketing campaigns. Traffic poured in organically as the word spread across through friends, clients and customers.
myHQ — another miracle for ClayPlay
Although ClayPlay had been working from a friend’s office, they knew they had to eventually move out. So with bare essential funds, the team started looking for an economical workspace. However, all they could afford were basements the size of a tiny room. It was heartbreaking for Newton & Charmine to foresee their team work in such an environment.
Again going back to the basics, a simple Google search brought him to myHQ. In his own words, visit to Oyo Townhouse 002 in Greenpark was a ‘miraculous surprise’ for Newton.
“When we visited myHQ space in Greenpark, we were stunned. It looked so fancy that one look and we knew it’s not in our budget. Guess what, myHQ had us in for a treat! It was very well within our budget and well, amazing beyond our expectations. Our team had a blast on our first day!”
ClayPlay had seen the worst. Less than a month ago, they were almost shut. And here they were, with a “SuperStartup” award in their kitty and a swanky workplace at their disposal.
The miracle of Three Months
In their eight months extensive tenure, ClayPlay didn’t earn as astoundingly as it did in the last three months. Booking started pouring in from March 1 and took the turnover of the company to INR 1.3 Crores. The accountant firm they had to let go of is now overwhelmed with customer invoices. Having achieved their target of breaking even way before their due date, they are now looking to hire the right resources for their expanding business.
Today, ClayPlay has bagged four huge corporate accounts across the globe solely on the basis of word of mouth publicity.
If you ask them of their macro future plans, they are going to laugh it off. Needless to say, being on such a roller coaster ride, ClayPlay is not the one to be deterred of anything now.
Their story is hope to dreams on the verge of collapsing and an epitome to dreams fulfilled by listening to no one but your own beliefs.