Honestly, I never imagined starting a business in the fashion space. If you had asked me the same question two years ago, I probably would have said, "No way!" That answer would have been driven by too much competition and little scope for innovation.
After I observed my sister and her designer friends face some real problems to get their talent noticed and grow their customer base, it forced me to re-look at this industry as a whole. This ultimately changed my perspective towards the fashion ecosystem. Meeting so many fresh, young and emerging, independent and even fairly established designers made me realise their immense potential. They also faced a lot of problems like lack of capital and lack of technical and marketing expertise when it comes to growing their customer base.
This is where the idea of GetNatty was born: Leverage a combination of technology and human talent to explore the business potential of those hundreds of thousands of designers who make original products inspired in India and made for the world. That is what GetNatty stands for. I am a management professional but more than that, I have been an entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was 17 selling electronic rackets door-to-door and in a matter of three months, we had made Rs 1 lakh which I used to hire three of my buddies to work for me. There has been no looking back and I have started and closed several businesses since.
Competition is the best thing that can happen to a startup. It means that the market you are chasing is validated. It also means that there is enough demand in the market for multiple players to survive. Hence, any new and differentiated product or service offering can capture market share rapidly if the price points are right, in very little time, causing disruptive ripples in the industry.
We feel we will be disrupting the designerwear industry and change the way customers and designers transact and discover each other. This will become possible by not just using our smart web-based interface, specifically designed for them but also we will use our team's technical and marketing expertise to promote these designers and help them grow and manage their business in the most efficient way possible.
Even though I do not hold a background in fashion, I have made sure that people in my team are well versed with the fashion industry. My core team and advisory board have three key people who have 10 to 20 years of experience in the fashion and retail industries. They not only help us stay updated with the latest trends but make sure we do not make the same mistakes they did and that we learn from other people's experience.
Our founding team, on the other hand, also has some young design graduates who help us in curation as well as business development. Although this in no way means that success is assured, I am optimistic that it will eventually work in our favour.
I understand that in order to start or scale a business, you need capital and a lot of it. But capital cannot stop innovation. The lack of it can bring the pace of progress to a halt but it can never stop it. So, even though we are a bootstrapped startup which does not have deep pockets, we rely on frugal innovation and follow strict financial discipline with an optimistic goal to ultimately build a winning brand. We have started talking to a few investors who have approached us to raise some seed capital to take GetNatty to the next level. But we are very selective in choosing the right investor. We prefer to partner with someone who has been an entrepreneur earlier and does not follow the herd mentality to jump into something just because it is what everyone seems to be excited about.
The selection process of vendors is done by our curation team. We are very particular about that. We look for original talent that makes products in the affordable luxury category. That means, both the middle class as well as the upper middle class can buy it due to its aspirational value. So essentially, our goal is to offer designerwear to the end user at no premium price point. We hold no inventory, of course, and designers deliver the product based on the orders. Typically, it takes between five to seven days for the product to be delivered which is not that far from the current e-commerce industry standards. Customers who buy designerwear are willing to have more patience with the delivery of the order.
We have set an ambitious goal to acquire 1,000 designers and 10,000 customers by 2017-18 and become operationally profitable. Also, it is our aim to create at least 100 new jobs every year and inspire several young and fresh designers from India to turn into 'designerpreneurs'.