In conversation with Franchise India, Vedang Patel, Co-founder, Souled Store, shares the valuable inputs on how to pitch an investor and insights on e-commerce trends
Conceptualized with the intention of being the one-stop destination for all fan merchandise, the Idea of The Souled Store was born to Aditya Sharma, Vedang Patel, and Rohin Samtaney, ex-colleagues and friends.
In conversation with Franchise India, Vedang Patel, Co-founder, Souled Store, shares the valuable inputs on how to pitch an investor and insights on e-commerce trends.
Simple Idea, Big Opportunity
The lack of good outlets to purchase fan merchandise is the idea that started it all. The only other options available then were a limited range of extremely expensive and badly designed imports from the US (which ironically were produced in India) or sub-par fakes.
Being true geeks, we took our love for pop-culture and created something we knew would be loved by all. We wanted to create a one-stop shop for people to purchase high quality and official merchandise belonging to their favourite fandom at an affordable rate. We started our business at various coffee shops in Bandra and launched the website with t-shirts, badges and wall arts.
Young entrepreneur’s Guide to pitch an investor
The first thing to remember is that most businesses don’t require a huge investment right off the bat. It’s more important to prove that you have a scalable, repeatable, and profitable business model than it is to raise a large amount of money. So initially, that should be one’s focus. Building a business model that’s profitable has a dual advantage— first, potential investors see a solid business model; and second, you know how to run and grow your business even if investors don’t agree to fund you.
When it comes to pitching to an investor, there are two things that one must always keep in mind. Firstly, know your numbers in and out. You have to know all the data around your company; from revenue to costs to product varieties. There is no valid excuse for not knowing every little detail about your company. However, if you are to stumble, admit your mistake instead of trying to fake numbers. Secondly, most investors want to see a return on their investment over a period of time. So you need to show them your vision of the company; how big it can be and how much potential your company has. An investor will only agree to fund you if they can see the true potential.
E-commerce trends and future prospects
Per capita income through e-commerce grew by as much as 8.6% in India last year. This is a great sign for the industry in general, but for apparel in particular. Not only is the apparel e-commerce industry growing in terms of numbers, but it’s also maturing in terms of tastes and preferences.
While e-commerce has emerged as a big opportunity for apparel brands, it also comes with a flipside. Huge cash burn by big marketplaces makes it harder for brands to have an independent identity online. At the same time, companies find themselves dealing with increasing customer returns, reverse logistics costs, and managing timely delivery. To craft an identity in today’s market, brands need to find a profitable niche and cater exclusively to it. Personalization is the key to success in the industry today. Today, people are looking for apparel that’s quirky, casual and customized. Of course, personalization doesn’t mean just product customization. It also means personalization of the entire shopping experience, be it online, offline, or omnichannel.
I think the key to our marketing strategy lies in the way we position our products. All our designs are unique and can’t be found anywhere on the internet. We sell only licensed and official products. Moreover, we also end up personalising all our orders for the fans who order from us.
Our marketing strategy is all about leveraging our unique value proposition and making sure it’s clear to our audience. We also make sure that all our marketing copy, whether that’s our website or social media, is authentic to our brand voice. For us, that means staying true to a brand narrative that’s casual, quirky, and pop culture-oriented.