CEO & Founder Universal Sportsbiz Pvt Ltd (USPL)
We can be India's first global youth-focused brand
Established to cater to an untapped sports and entertainment ecosystem in India, Universal Sportsbiz is every sporting enthusiast's dream. Anjana Reddy, CEO and founder of USPL, speaks to us about her fashion retail start-up company and its youth-centric brands.
How did you come up with the idea of USPL? How are USPL product offerings different from others?
The idea to start USPL cropped up when I was studying in the US. That was when I saw a gap in the branded space. We wanted to come up with a brand that the youth could relate to-that was the birth of USPL in my dorm room. It was not apparel we started with; we started with merchandising and began with Collectabillia, for which we signed up with Sachin Tendulkar for a host of merchandises. That was when we realised that the apparel market is growing, and decided to build the business around apparel.
We have introduced a lot of things with Wrogn, we made denim joggers and burn-out wash in polos. We have done lots of things, but one thing which is different for all the three brands is that they are literally by the youth and for the youth. If you see the brand ambassador, brand clothes and brand campaign-all of those are targeted at the youth. So, the brand position is very clearly defined for all our brands, and we also believe in putting in more into the product. Our products are well organised and they are very youth-centric, for the entire product line. We often get requests from channel partners urging why we don't just go for a ride and research what is doing well in the market. But we typically abstain from doing this because it does not fit with the youth, even though it (a product type) is probably selling right now in the market-such things do not go with our process.
What challenges did you face as a start-up in the apparel retail industry?
The biggest thing is that vendors should take you seriously, and for you to hit your minimum order quantities with the supply chain. Also, from the content perspective, convincing any large online or offline channel to pick up an unknown brand is a challenge. These are the multiple challenges you face as a new brand in the market, but I think we have done well to overcome that.
All USPL brands (Imara, Wrogn, Collectabillia, and Ms Taken) are backed by celebrities. What is the reason behind such associations?
There are so many brands in the market. In India, from the brand's perspective, the celebrity has to have a discoverable face. You have 2000-plus brands online on Myntra, and you have Virat, Shraddha or Kriti looking at you; you are more inclined to going and clicking on that brand. Therefore, for us the celebrity acts as a discoverability source and obviously they are also lending credibility to the brand face. Otherwise, they are just unknown brands without a celebrity. Discoverability and credibility act as assets for the brand's value in the customer's mind.
Will USPL promote only celebrity brands?
Right now, I don't think I am launching any other brand. I think all three brands are the celebrity ones. So, let's just leave it at that.
What is the USP of each brand-Imara, Wrogn, Collectabillia, and Ms Taken. How do you plan to deal with the competition in a crowded marketplace?
As I said, it is very youth-focused and youth-centric; our product is key for us. All our celebrities are great in terms of discoverability, the product is king, and that is what is working well for the brand. The topmost priority for us internally is to focus on the product, and I think we should give more back into the product. The consumer today is so spoilt for choice, and the consumer recognises good quality products; that is what is working for us. Rather than focusing on what other people are doing, it is better for us to focus on how we can improve the product experience for the consumer season-on-season.
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