In conversation with Franchise India, Vedang Patel, Co-founder, Souled Store, shares his valuable inputs on how to get funding, the role of technology & social media in a business and much more...
Lack of good outlets to purchase fan merchandise is the idea behind the foundation of India’s leading fan merchandise site, Souled Store. It is a one-stop shop for people to purchase high quality and official merchandise belonging to their favourite fandom at an affordable rate.
In conversation with Franchise India, Vedang Patel, co-founder, Souled Store, shares his valuable inputs on how to get funding, the role of technology & social media in a business and much more...
How to Get Funding for a startup
Funding is the major dilemma that almost every startup faces before starting their business. There are many financing options available like bootstrapping, crowdfunding, loan, investors etc.
Vedang Patel said, “Our business has had a humble start. We started our business by pooling in a seed capital worth Rs. 5.25 lakhs and bootstrapped our way through. We don’t believe in unnecessary cash burn and have been profitable since day one.”
Role of Technology in a Business
Technology has emerged as an undeniable aspect in a business. Startups are utilising the technologies well to increase their brand growth.
“The Souled Store has started as a pure-play e-commerce business and cutting-edge technology is at the core of everything we do. Our goal is to deliver both customised products with a personalised online shopping experience. Our algorithms are designed to make sure we do this; from personalised product recommendations to seamless user experience,” stated Patel.
How to Deal with Competition
If you think about it from a broader perspective, the competition in almost every industry is endless. From big online marketplaces that have a lot of cash to burn to the bigger Indian and international brands, there is no dearth of competitors.
Patel, commented, “The key to creating a successful apparel brand is to find your audience and stay true to them. The Souled Store, for instance, began as a one-stop destination for all fan merchandise. The core problem we tried to solve was the unavailability of good pop culture merchandise and today we are official merchandisers for widely loved fandoms such as Marvel comics, DC comics and Harry Potter; iconic cartoons like Scooby Doo and Flintstones; and popular TV Shows like Friends, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory. We also hold official merchandise for major sporting events such as WWE, IPL teams, Kabbadi& Football Franchises.
“Since we’ve identified a profitable niche, we’ve built our brand around it, and have managed to avoid cash burn which in turn allows us to be profitable. That, we believe, is the best way to become competitive in this industry,” added Patel.
Importance of Social Media
Living in a post-globalisation world with 24X7 access to social media, pop culture and fandoms have become a massive reality in most people’s daily lives.
“Today, millennials in India want to express their love for sports teams and pop culture icons through the clothes they wear. Similarly, fan merchandise from superheroes to sports teams is now a major phenomenon. Social media plays a big role in making these trends as big as they are. At the Souled Store, our social media strategy is to leverage a mindset that already exists and expose people to our products in a fun, quirky, and non-intrusive way. Our entire brand represents fun, casual, quirky, and personal; and we make sure all our social media posts reflect the same ethos,” said Patel.
Future Expansion Plans
We recently raised $3 million in a funding round led by RP-SG Ventures, backed by the Sanjiv Goenka Group. Given that the Goenka Group is an established and well-reputed name in the business world, this investment is incredible validation for our work and our vision for the future.
We are looking at a two-fold growth strategy in the next few years. Firstly, we will focus on increasing the range of products and offering more to the current customer base, which is more than 10 lakh people. As mentioned earlier, we are also in the process of introducing products that are women-centric and kids-centric.
The second major aspect of our growth strategy is our focus on an omnichannel shopping experience. We are all set to go offline and launch our first offline store to offer our customers personalised and immersive shopping experience. This will ensure that they leave not just with the products but also the memories of a next-level retail experience. Customisation is our speciality, and we want to make sure this reflects both in our products and in our offline store experience.