“The water is always murky and deep but the only way to find out is to wet your paws and that’s something I will keep doing,” says O.P. Jindal Global University alum, Arman Sood. It’s something he has consistently done right from his early days as a law student at Jindal Global Law School. The Class of 2015 student, along with his fellow alum and friend, Ashwajeet Singh, spotted the need for a merchandise venture on campus and set up E-Shack. The success of their first entrepreneurial venture was like waking up and smelling a fresh cup of coffee! It served as a reminder of their entrepreneurial passions, which has now resulted in a highly successful business venture–Sleepy Owl Coffee. We talk to him about his venture and find out what’s brewing in the future.
A confident public speaker, Arman pursued law because he believed his skill would serve him well to practice litigation. The youngster from Kolkata showed interest in corporate law, Intellectual Property Rights and constitutional law, and also went on to work as a Marketing and Communications Evangelist after graduation. But his time at JGU had already encouraged him to pursue his varied passions—and entrepreneurship was what he chose. “You need to start thinking beyond the programme of study in the University, and utilise the time and opportunities available to the maximum to enjoy the success of your own achievements, and most importantly, to stand out from the crowd,” he speaks from experience while sharing advice with other young students following in his footsteps.
As a talented football player at the University, Arman was learning a thing or two about leadership skills and teamwork. But more importantly he had struck up a friendship with his hostel roommate, Ashwajeet Singh. The two would go on to become best friends and business partners.
“JGLS taught me to research, think out of the box and brainstorm. This has proven to be extremely useful in my entrepreneurial journey,” he admits. It was one such brainstorming session with his best friend on a holiday in Thailand that sowed the seeds of their first venture. It was in the second year of their law school journey when the two started designing merchandise, which was later sold on the campus.
In the very next year, Arman took a step further by setting up E-Shack with his friend. The brand started selling bar and party accessories but remained quite flexible to launch other verticals including t-shirts that were a huge success. Clearly, the two had a knack for business right from the outset. So even though they embarked on their careers after graduation in the corporate world, their eyes were set on their entrepreneurial journey.
In a case of better “latte” than never, the two finally decided to take the plunge with Sleepy Owl Coffee. Interestingly, the business venture came together because the two spotted the utter lack of cold brew options and the need for a quality player in the Indian coffee landscape.
Taking crucial lessons from their learning experience at JGLS, Arman and his business partner decided to gain deep insights into the market. They spent time in Chikmagalur, a major Indian coffee town, to gain firsthand experience in their field. He admits that the two were lucky to find funding from their parents as they navigated the startup world. “But it’s not like we had it easy. We pitched our ideas to them, heard their criticisms, revised our plans and convinced them,” he says. It’s been four years since the business was launched and its tremendous success needs no convincing. The founders have already been featured in publications like GQ, Vogue, The Economic Times and in Forbes India’s ‘30 Under 30’ list. The brand recently raised $500,000 (INR 3.26 crore) in seed money from a venture capital firm.
Understanding, innovating, and adapting to the market, they have come a long way. But Arman has plans to go beyond, further and higher.