An appreciation for textile is in Pallavi Mohadikar’s blood. The founder of Indofash tells us “My grandfather was a weaver. He used to weave beautiful Tussar silk sarees. My childhood was spent watching him spin beautiful sarees from mere threads and dancing to the sound of looms. I have seen a weaver’s life up close.”
That passion, born in childhood, grew to an interest in college and a business soon followed, “When I joined IIM Lucknow and went to explore the local market with my dad, I was mesmerised to see so many varieties of Chikankari (delicate white thread hand embroidery native to the state). In the year followed, I studied the market closely. I met hundreds of artisans and tried to get a hang of the supply chain. Then I realised that a stamp of authenticity and the ability to reach to larger audience is what these artisans lacked. Hence I thought of creating a platform which would aggregate these arts, vouch for their authenticity and make them available to people across the globe.” For Pallavi, Indofash is a humble attempt to connect 7 million+ artisans and weavers to global buyers and the business has been extremely successful becoming profitable in a very short time period and raising capital for hiring and international market expansion in their first funding round from an angel investor Shekhar Sahu.
Joined by Rahul Gayakwad, the architect of technology at Indofash, their business’s primary selling point is authenticity, Pallavi explains “We hunt for unique arts from corners of India and make them available to global buyers on one platform.
In such a diverse country like India, there are so many arts hiding in every corner which we all are not aware of. Because of huge industrialisation, they are fading away with time. But I believe they are a beautiful facet of Indian culture. Each art has a unique and fascinating story behind it which our generation is totally unaware of. We are helping buyers discover such unique arts and content which surely fascinates them.
The core of Indofash is its relationship with the weavers. It is a commercial relationship naturally. But there is a lot of personal touches to it. They get their due credits and monetary benefits while our buyers gain access to highest quality authentic products.
By ensuring that they can sustain their livelihood in today’s cutthroat commercial terrain, I feel proud about my contribution to keeping this heritage alive.”
Their biggest challenge has been to educate artisans and weavers about selling online. This requires them to come out of their comfort zone of traditional business model. Apart from that, Pallavi says “These arts are scattered across India and it’s a huge unorganised market hence getting them under one umbrella is a big task! In a market saturated with e-commerce players, customer acquisition and retention is a challenge. The upside is that the end-customer has now got the hang of online shopping. They are well-informed and want to try out new trends and styles which makes it comparatively easier to gain a share of their wallet.”
How has technology helped? “Technology plays a key role in building any platform. We, at Indofash, focus more on tech based apps to keep the team lean. We have developed seller panel app using which any seller can upload, view, edit and update his inventory on-the-go using a very basic smartphone. This makes selling online very easy. We have developed virtual trial room feature which helps user to try the product virtually on her image before making a purchase decision. This increases the user engagement on the platform. We are developing products that use machine learning and data science to improve product browsing and shopping experience. We use image processing techniques to pre-process the product images uploaded by the seller so that they look beautiful and uniform.”
The accelerating rate of internet penetration has made the addressable market grow exponentially in India with the biggest value e-commerce has to offer is convenience and choice. Pallavi points out “All the players are trying to be as creative as possible to enhance the overall customer experience. This market is very much prone to disruption and we intend to bring one!”
Their strategy is to focus on the international market as there is a huge demand supply gap for these arts. “We are trying to penetrate the international market organically. Having the highest quality of products and quickest service are the two key parameters we focus on for customer satisfaction and retention.” With those two goals, Pallavi and Rahul state that the three Ps define the success of their business “Passion, perseverance and people management skills are the three important things any entrepreneur should have. The entrepreneurial journey is full of highs and lows. Your passion and perseverance will keep you going in the low periods. And one of the keys to success is people. Hence getting good people on board and managing them well to get best out of them is an art every entrepreneur should master!”
Watch Indofash as they grow, follow them on Facebook.