The Fashion e-commerce had come to a grinding halt in India when the national lockdown that started on March 23rd closed all but the essential services. Online fashion sales in India were predicted to reach a valuation of $30 billion by the end of 2020 by Boston Consulting Group and Facebook in 2017, which changed course due to the force shutdown. Unlike in other countries like the US, where e-commerce retail across categories has been allowed to keep operating as stores close, India’s lockdown is total for the fashion industry. “Although the pandemic had us back by a couple of months, with the delivery chains being severely impacted, leading to delayed shipment and non-serviceability in some areas, Styched didn’t experience any losses per se, as we are a zero-inventory company”, quips Soumajit Bhowmik, CEO & Co-founder, Styched.
A Blend of Comfort and Exclusivity
Representing the fashion component and the Indian roots, Styched is a mashup of Style and Stitched, offering fast fashion affordable apparels for the youth and solving few pertinent problems in eCommerce brand space, through AI and Technology. A product on-demand company, the whole operational aspect of Styched is unique. No matter what apparel you are looking for – Topwear, bottom wear, accessories, Styched makes it on order and at scale. “It has been possible through AI and Rapid Data Analysis, which granularizes apparel manufacturing to the most basic replicable patterns, helping us have zero inventory, zero warehouse expenses, zero losses, unlimited styles and designs in the portal. This has helped us in being the most affordable brand by passing on the cost benefits to the end customer. The backend also regulates return through Machine Learning, thus improving our unit economics”, opines Soumajit.
Maintaining transparency with his employees, Soumajit has made sure that every member of the company knows about the cash flow, cash in hand, future plans and how that translate to any decision the management has to take. “We have not allowed any uncertainty in jobs or salary expectations among employees, which has helped our employees work in a focused way towards the company goals so that we can come out the lockdown stronger and better. Also, senior members have voluntarily taken salary cuts, ensuring everyone knew that although this a tough time, it would not last for more than a couple of months”, adds Soumajit.
Going down the Entrepreneurial Path
Topping most of his classes school days, Soumajit was a good student. He learnt a lot of things in his college life. “IIT Kharagpur transformed me beyond imagination. The understanding that you are never the best, there is always someone better around you, and all you can do is work on your own knowledge and efficiency – which translates to humility and compassion, is something IIT engraved in me. The lifelong bunch of friends, the confidence to follow your dream/passion is something IIT gave me as a parting gift”, says Soumajit.
A bloke with tons of ideas waiting for a chance to implement them, Soumajit was quite indecisive about what he wanted to do with his career. “I was in a dilemma, whether I should work on something I love doing or take a job that pays me more”, recalls Soumajit. A serial entrepreneur himself, Soumajit was previously working at Capillary, where he was heading the complete vertical with a lot of freedom. He quips, “it was almost as if I was running my own startup within Capillary. My longest streak in that aspect would be with AdWize, a boutique branding and Digital Marketing Agency, which we started in 2007 and wrapped up in 2015”.
Soumajit stumbled upon Styched by chance, along with Saswata Banarjee and Durga Madhab Dash, Co-founders of Styched. “We have known each other since our IIT Kharagpur days. In 2017, when we got a chance to catch up over dinner and drinks, our discussions about our work made us realize that this was the right time to plunge into the battlefield that is eCommerce. Over the next year, we finalized on the business plan, optimization opportunities, tech play and brought Styched to life”, recalls Soumajit. Hence, Soumajit, along with Saswata and Durga, started Styched through the funds they could gather from their friends, ex-colleagues, and old clients from AdWize.
A Team of Independently Creative People
Following a very startup-like work culture, Styched encourages everyone to take ownership of the work in hand, with complete freedom for them to execute any ideas, improvements, or process efficiency. “We all help each other and work collectively towards one vision”, adds Soumajit. Playing an instrumental role in Styched’s journey so far, Social Media and Digital Support have had an enormous influence on the company’s growth. “Facebook ads, hashtag marketing, influencer marketing has proved to be a gamechanger. Without social media or digital support, things might have been different. Still, I believe that with our value proposition, even offline marketing would have made us instant favourites among customers”, quips Soumajit. Launching new categories and expand styles, Styched plans on increasing their daily orders to 2000+, open up their Delhi operations and start their first office in Dubai, ultimately to become the No.1 Fast Fashion brand globally.
A business is nothing without the people who work behind the scenes. While the entrepreneur may have big dreams, it is ultimately the team, with whose help they can realize the goals. Hiring the right team is therefore extremely important for any business, and more so for a startup, since it is the team that plays a crucial role in understanding and executing the founder’s vision. Realizing the essence of a good team, Soumajit concludes, “You need to have motivated high-performance individuals, aligned to the vision, who look at the long term, who live the dream you have painted and who are willing to go the extra mile to make that dream a reality”.