FO2 STAGE | 125 | How FO2 became a digital reality

Over the last three years, we have told amazing journeys of people from the world of photography. As we are entering our fourth year, we have taken the challenge to write our own!

FO2 is celebrating its third anniversary, and while it's three years celebration for FO2, our journey goes way back to 2015 when our parent company Maono Photography was formed. The journey started as a different startup but with the same motive of building a community of photographers by creating a platform to connect photographers with potential clients. While we explored the community and got a chance to connect with many professionals who guided us in many ways to establish a name in the industry, we hit a major bump with many problems that every startup faces, like limited funds & technological advancements hitting us one by one. Still, it wasn't enough to demotivate us.

Even though things were running down the hill, they inspired us to create something better in the industry, for the industry, and much more functional. And one day, over a cup of coffee, the idea of creating FO2 was popped, and yet again, a café saved a startup.

Every idea sounds good and easy when you talk about it passionately, but to impress an investor, it takes much more than passion. Being from a non-business background, it took us months to create a pitch that could be good enough as we were learning things at the same time and some more to find an investor who is ready to invest in an idea that caters to a segregated audience, but we couldn't get any luck! Still, somehow, things played in our favor, and money came in to start this passion project.

As we were finding people to join the team, we were adamant that we didn't just want to hire staff; instead, we wanted to build a team of people who are as passionate about the community as we are! Running an e-commerce platform requires a lot of work at the back end, and even though everyone was skilled, none of us were acquainted with the challenges that come with the responsibility of running a startup.

As we were lucky to find a team of young people working for passion, much more than stability. Everyone was ready to experiment and go out of their comfort to do something better than they thought. Members who joined us at our initial stage are still working with us and evolved into a family, which helped us grow at a faster rate and also made the challenges easier!

Launch day always brings some unique feelings. One chapter closes, and countless other begins. There is anxiety, there is relief and a lot of possibilities. This day three years ago, we finally made our website live! That day, from an idea in our head FO2 became a digital reality. Months of preparations and anxiousness ended only to create new ones no one was prepared for! But together, we made it through new hurdles graciously.

Pressing one LIVE button to countless experiences later,

Eagerly waiting for the first order, the notification popped up, and it took us a few seconds to sink in the feeling, but that was only the beginning! We did everything from packing the first order and creating the first shipment to dispatching the first order. Today after delivering more than fourteen thousand orders, still the joy of receiving an order remains the same.

Now that the website was live, it was time to go back to our roots and start working to create a stronger community of artists. This gave birth to our community initiatives, FO2 stage, HOW2FO2, Weekly Samachar, and many more, which are solely dedicated to the community.

From shifting multiple offices in different cities and three pandemic waves later, we managed to deliver thousands of orders, published the stories of more than a hundred brilliant artists, ran a podcast, and opened our first pickup store this March. When we designed our Indore store, we made sure that this store should not be just a shop where customers would come and buy goods. Instead, this should be a place for artists and the community where people can sit and talk about art.

Our latest community initiative was to start taking workshops for photography enthusiasts, which opened many possibilities and fueled us to create a much bigger workshop-STAGE on this world photography day to celebrate the community.

So here we are, celebrating three years of FO2 and sharing all these happy memories with you. And these are only the highlights of what happened in the last three years, but life isn't just highlights. We have faced our own share of ups and downs throughout the journey. To sum up all our learnings, we believe that,
"Everyone should give themselves the opportunity to create something of their own, it could be something small or personal. You never know what it could grow into."

Blog by: Vinay Matre & Harshita Sharma

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