Startups smell moolah with fashion-savvy women

Several Indian startups have pitched their tents in the women-only fashion space. And they find the niche large enough that they have no plans to do s

Startups smell moolah with fashion-savvy women
That women love to shop till they drop may be the most banal of all clichés, but not for several Indian startups which have pitched their tents in that space anticipating serious money. And what’s more, none of them have any plans to target the men’s segment and offer a similar experience. All they want to do is to help women pick up the right clothes without compromising on style.

Are fringes the in thing? What’s trending now in fashion across the globe? Which are the various ways to style your favourite white shirt? All these questions are now part of social interaction, which encourages many women to make a style statement.

Enter three alumni of IIT Delhi — Mayank Bhangadia, Avinash Saxena and Kaushal Shubhank — who have started, said to be the first-of-its kind fashion-focused social network that allows women to discover and shop for new products.

Explaining Roposo, Mayank said, “The idea was to focus on the basic fashion needs of women, and then provide them with products based on their tastes and preferences. Roposo is a data-driven smart-shopping platform, specialising in search and discovery of products from anywhere on the Web.” Roposo gets products from web stores and brands available online like Koovs, Jabong and Asos, and then match them with the tastes of users.

Though eCommerce majors like Flipkart and Snapdeal offer the latest clothes and accessories for women, it is difficult to find out products from too many cluttered online spaces. On the other hand, these startups are different as they give attention to individuals’ needs and preferences, and also power it with their social media function. Founded in 2013, Roposo is growing at a rate of 250 per cent every month, claims Mayank.

“Our target audience is every woman between the age group of 18 and 35 years, who lives on the internet, and is a pure fashion lover. Roposo is creating over 20 lakh consumer touchpoints in a single day with the power of suggestion and search in the online space,” said Mayank, adding that Roposo welcomes competitors.  With the kind of response we are receiving from our users, we are not even close to worrying about competition, he said.

The fashion-focused social network recently raised $5 million in series A funding investment led by the technology venture investor Tiger Global. “Previous investors Indian Quotient and Binny Bansal also took part in this round. These funds will primarily be used to get more people on board and also on improving products,” he said. With 20 lakh products from more than 300 Web stores and 2,000 brands, Mayank says catering to such a large audience requires more people on board.

Wooplr identifies what’s new Doozton, another online fashion site that offered clothes picked by stylists, was acquired by Snapdeal last year.

Four ex-McAfee employees co-founded  fashion discovery app Wooplr a couple of years ago. Arjun Zacharia, CEO and co-founder of Wooplr, said, “If you take eCommerce majors, they all give 60 to 70 per cent discounts, and those products are not the latest fashion. Here in Wooplr, a user will know which one is new and from which place one can get the clothes, handbags, and so on. Users post their pictures and also describe where one can get them from. In Wooplr, you follow fashion, and brand new things come under the platform. People see only fashion and buy it. We want to get into users’ mind space,” said Arjun. In one year, we are targeting five million users, he said. From 11 employees, Wooplr has grown into 52 in just three months. “For us fashion comes first, and then comes technology. Our growth is aggressive, and we have grown six times in the last three months,” he said.

Fashion app Voonik on June 10 announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Seedfund. Sujayath Ali and Navaneetha Krishnan founded Voonik in 2013. Sujayath got the idea of Voonik when he was frustrated that his wife did not approve his clothes.

“I moved to premium brands, tried trendy clothes, followed celebrities’ styles, but nothing ever worked. Thus began the journey of Voonik. The idea behind Voonik is grand — to provide a personal stylist to everybody — all online and completely free. The styling platform will handpick the best clothes for customers based on their body, lifestyle, personality, and budget,” he said.

Voonik ran a concept phase for six months to learn about the problem, what value proposition customers prefer, and also to collect data to build the personal styling engine. “We found that women wanted a way to buy what suits them — their bodies, lifestyles, personalities, and budgets,” Sujayath said.

Voonik depends on stylists. When asked about it, Sujayath said they have a strong team of stylists who have done graduation in styling and have been running personal styling agencies for years before joining the fashion app. Though Roposo, Wooplr, and Voonik, among others, target women and their fashion needs, each one claims to be different.

“Other similar startups are affiliate websites that will just redirect to the merchant websites. At Voonik, you complete the transaction within the Voonik app and can call the Voonik customer support team for any issues with the orders placed,” says Sujayath. He said the startup wants to achieve $100 million GMV (gross merchandise volume) rate in the next 12 months.

Wooplr currently performs only the social media function in fashion. In the next phase they are planning to tie up with brands to make purchases possible. Roposo has both social and commerce functions, but purchases are completed at other merchant websites to which it links.

Target smartphone users

Mobile apps have become the order of the day. Voonik launched its mobile app last year, and has close to 1.3 million app downloads at present. “On an average, we register close to 2,500 purchases daily from 1,500 unique customers. While eCommerce portals have been extremely popular, we have observed mCommerce is increasingly becoming the de facto mode for making transactions. With the ubiquitous smartphone getting cheaper, along with better connectivity, we believe mobile is the future of commerce. We are the highest rated fashion app. We have been the second-fastest growing fashion app in April and May, next only to Myntra,” claims Sujayath. Roposo launched its mobile app in  April 2015 and now it enjoys over eight lakh users. Wooplr has half-a-million users, accessing through both desktops and the app.

A big no to men

Interestingly, all these startups focus only on women between the age group of 18 and 35 years. “The women segment is large enough for us and we do not have plans to launch it for men,” said Sujayath. Wooplr too wants to give a great experience to women first. When asked about Roposo’s plans to introduce such a fashion focused social network for men, Mayank said, “Understanding a man’s fashion need was never that big a task. Do we really need a smart, data-driven shopping tool to help men shop? Not yet.”

One follows fashion in Wooplr. We want to get into users’ mind space
Arjun Zacharia
CEO & co-founder of Wooplr

We want to achieve $100 million GMV (gross merchandise volume) rate in the next 12 months
Sujayath Ali
CEO and Co-founder of Voonik

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