India’s premier hill stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong are not just beautiful tourism destinations. They are also the havens to some of the best food, arts, handicrafts and rich local culture that have prevailed for centuries. And one start-up that is taking the indigenous culture of these beautiful hill stations to the mainstream is the Darjeeling-based Daammee.
“Daammee” is a quintessentially Nepali word that means ‘the best and wonderful’. Daammee founder Snjog Datta, a 30-year-old former journalist and political consultant, started this e-commerce platform to support the region’s cottage industries.
Daammee was founded by Datta on May 24, 2020, during the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Using the platform, cottage industries from the hills of Darjeeling, Siliguri, and Kalimpong can sell their goods directly to customers all over India on the online marketplace. The products sold on this e-commerce platform range from traditional food like Gundruk and Kinema to traditional crafts like Thangka paintings, covering a wide range of local goods and products.
Daammee sources various products from the domestic industries of Darjeeling and Siliguri and sells them to consumers across India.
COVID-19 Pandemic Crippled the Cottage Industry in India’s North-East
Due to COVID-induced lockdowns and economic disruptions, the cottage industries in the hills faced severe financial crises. People in remote rural areas rely majorly on their local indigenous businesses; the pandemic directly hit their weakest links by halting the entire system.
Daammee founder Snjog Datta saw an opportunity in adversity as he created the start-up to aid these hurting businesses in their worst state. He established the company to give the local industry a pan-India platform that would allow their goods to access a bigger market.
How does Daammee operate?
Undoubtedly, there is more to the northeastern region than tea and tourism. Daammee essentially markets local favourites from the Darjeeling hills and also offers Nepalese and northeastern specialities. The start-up’s focus lies on the cottage industries of the region. It buys the products straight from the manufacturers and brings them to warehouses, where they go through a strict quality check. Then the products are packed and shipped all over India.
Daammee offers a whole range of products from the hills, from food to prayer objects to decor, and cultural wearables. It offers a vast variety of food items like dallay (a type of famous round chilly), Chinese sausage (lap Cheong), gundruk (smoked pork), dry beef, mutton pickle, chhurpi cheese, thukpa glass noodles, and much more.
What can others learn from Daammee?
Daammee has become quite famous in a short span of time in Siliguri, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong. This is primarily due to the company’s customer-first approach. When entrepreneurs from remote areas bring the local industry on a more comprehensive online platform, it is necessary that the client base be satisfied with a genuine local feel and authentic products.
While Indian metro cities have had a well-established e-commerce sector and access to an extensive range of products for a long time, the smaller towns in India are still en route to the digital path of commerce. Entrepreneurs from such places have a great chance of success as the internet is reaching the remotest villages and districts in India. And they can help the local industry and their own business by going online and reaching a wider audience.
Businesses originating from small cities must continuously evolve and upgrade to adapt to a variable market and cater to customers round the clock. Following this strategy, Daammee’s sales have crossed the Rs 20 lakh mark in just over ten months. The company, and many others like it, has a lot of potential and a long way to go to success.
Exquisite entrepreneurial intent, just like Daammee, supported by government schemes and bootstrapping of businesses, can help India’s small companies to go online all the way and rejuvenate the local culture of the beautiful hills as it reaches mainstream cities.