The Indian Wire » Startups » PortraitFlip – A journey from investing upkeeps for sustenance to a well flourishing business worth 2 crore

PortraitFlip – A journey from investing upkeeps for sustenance to a well flourishing business worth 2 crore



PortraitFlip is a niche gifting platform which has, after being given 6 months of part-timer and 5 months of full time, witnessed a growth of 170% organically, month-on-month.

There are many horizontal e-commerce websites such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Alibaba etc that are present out there to offer a very vast variety of products to their customers owing to quite a good number of sellers to contribute to their platform. But there is a loophole which makes the customer get quite confused with what would be the best-suited product for their exact needs.

This marks the space for the niche ecommerce platforms to shoot up to offer a very hand picked selection of the products which is best suited for the needs of the customer for that particular niche. These products are sure unique and of great quality. Pune-based PortraitFlip is now one of the successful start-ups that and enlisted a very selective range of approximately 10 to 15 products on its website.


PortraitFlip was started by a group of three college mates. They were, at that time, studying in an engineering college, VIT University. Two of them, Mr. Lavdeep Chahal and Mr. Sunny Choudhary being mechanical engineers and the third, Mr. Shubhanshu Maheshwari is an electrical engineer. Mr. Maheshari had tried a few start-ups, some of them single handed and the others with Mr. Chahal, related to book e commerce, bike rentals, customised mobile covers etc, before PortraitFlip, and he opened new doors to know the functioning of such websites and gained a lot of working experience which helped PortraitFlip to boost up in its budding stage itself. Then came in Mr. Choudhary with them, to help in the proper marketing of the products and SEO of the website.

When the three came together they sought opportunities to open up a niche website in the gifting sector. The story lies in the personal difficulty of one of the co-founders to find the apt gift for a special person and a special occasion. And there boomed the idea of PortraitFlip. With an initial investment of INR10,000 saved from the monthly pocket money they used to get during the college times, they started with their venture of PortraitFlip. They made up a basic e-commerce website with a catalogue of the barely 5 products to begin with.

Their uniqueness lies in having 100% handcrafted products which has been totally customised according to the needs of the customers. PortraitFlip excels in handmade paintings which are easy to get. Having a portrait made has never been easy. Either the perfect artist with the similar taste of art is not available or might not be accessible. Also, the person might have to sit for hours in front of the artist to get the job done. 

PortraitFlip has turned the tables around. Now anyone from around the world can get a customised portrait made sitting in the comfort of their home. The process at PortraitFlip is very easy. All the customer has to do is upload a picture that needs to be converted into a portrait. Next up, not only a portrait, but any well spent moment captured in the stills of the digital camera can be converted into a marvellous piece of art. 

PortraitFlip aims at bringing smiles to their dearly customers when they make their special ones elated by such gifts. PortraitFlip aims at setting a new gifting standard and altogether a great experience for the giver and the receiver. The thoughts put behind a gift expresses the overwhelming love and care and counts the most. 

After having given part time from their college life into this, the trio now graduated and invested their blood and sweat all day long into this platform to turn their dream of easy portrait services into reality. In the beginning they had only 10-12 artists from around the world. Their toil now ensured the branding of the company. They remade their websites again and again, launching and discarding products according to the market, leaving no stone unturned to walk towards success.

Now they have a team of 40 artists, painting studios, content writers and graphic designers. With their strong team and a plan of action they confidently take up numerous orders and ship them within 3 weeks. They kept on improving their resources and shipping quality to bring in more happy customers.

Their 70% of traction is from US, 15% from UK, Canada and Australia; and remaining being from India. Having a widespread customer base helps them generate the required revenue from their web platform.

How it works:

PortraitFlip having a huge base of artists, invites the customers to its website and get exactly what they had been looking for. They have a feature for the customers to live chat with the team so that they could provide all the possible assistance required. The customers has to make choices of mediums and size that would suit their portrait. All they have to do then is sit back, relax and wait for their art piece to be delivered. The most treasured products from their collection are pet portraits and oil painting.

PortraitFlip has taken good care of social media marketing to build up a brand value and generate orders. Working hard on SEO brings in good amount of organic traffic. The team in SEO has been targeting keywords to bring in the masses to the platform they had been looking for. The keywords are basically to help the customers search what they were looking for as they might not even know what kind of products exist and thus, could not search for their specific requirement. Instagram had been a great platform to get youth to the website and know more about PortraitFlip. Minimum 15 enquiries are received every day from Instagram itself.

They have been taking up the orders and passing them to the artists. The best part about this start-up was that they do not require any special working spaces. They do not have to maintain any inventory or a working official space. All this saves a lot of money while allowing the team to function in the comfort of their own, having no time to waste on conveyance and hence getting best outputs from them. So this business model works out for the best.

PortraitFlip believes that their customers are the best marketeers. More than 15% of them came back upon having best quality products and services.  They are the ones who publicize the most. Their circle also now become acquainted with the works of PortraitFlip. This generates further more traction.

End to end follow-up is provided by the company to let the customer know the exact how-about of their product. Regular updates on the painting is given to the customers so that they can suggest revisions according to their needs. All these unlimited revisions are provided free of cost and hence 100% customer satisfaction is guaranteed. This is the backbone of the entire model.


PortraitFlip has seen all the ups and downs in their journey so far. There was a time when the founding members had to collect funds from their friends to raise capital and sustain their company. Each and every member was focused to establish a niche platform without any external funding. They have seen some passionate fans of niches who definitely comes back for such handcrafted unique products for gifting. 

The price wars given by other horizontal e-commerce websites has only the cost as an attractive feature. PortraitFlip on the other hand provide some best quality products at the cheapest rate to ensure quality in the amount and make it worth it. Rather than haphazard advertisements, PortraitFlip aims at branding the company by advertising through the contented customers to bring in more of them!

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Shubham Dave

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