Chulbul Store – the Gabbar Singh of ‘apparel-tainment’ industry
When two IIT Roorkee grads, Anshuman Sharma and Vivek Pathak, started feeling like they were sliding into their comfort zones, they quit their jobs.
“We quit a stable job mainly because it was stable. We were looking to do something more challenging,” they remark.
The two friends had been discussing about starting up since their days as batchmates in IIT Roorkee. Three years after graduation, destiny brought them back together in Bangalore and they grabbed the opportunity to get together and startup in November 2013.
What is Chulbul?
“Every youth has a hobby and a passion. We want to help them flaunt their passion to the world by wearing it in the form of T-shirts,” says Vivek.
“Chulbul is a Hindi word for naughty/mischievous/carefree but in a positive context. At the same time, Chulbul is a catchy hard-to-forget name which is an added advantage,” Vivek explains the rationale behind the funky name.
65% of India’s population is below 35 years of age. The population in the age group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011 and is predicted to be around 464 million by 2021. The opportunity to target this youth is what Chulbul store wants to tap.
The duo thought about things that appeal most to the youth. Among many other things, popular movies and TV series was one thing that looked most promising. They have developed unique designs inspired from the famous movies or TV series that will appeal to the fans.
“To start with, we have T-shirts with designs based on movies and popular TV series. Very soon, we will be introducing designs based on other youth related themes,” Anshuman adds.
But why T-shirts? “The domestic apparel market in India is around 40 billion dollars out of which T-shirts hold a significant percentage and is growing at a CAGR of 12%. And there aren’t many players who are doing high quality unique design T-shirts on a big scale. The market is far from being saturated and this is an opportunity to grasp. Since the apparel industry is gigantic, T-shirts seemed the most apt thing to begin with and that’s what we did. We focus on providing the best fabric and the best fitting. We did a lot of research on big brands like Reebok, Puma etc before launching the T-shirts,” says Anshuman.
The team is quite small right now. Ashish Bharadwaj is the design head, who is currently employed with SAIL. “Most of the design work that you see on our products as well as our website is his work done in his spare time. He will be with us full time very soon. We also have a couple of freelance designers from some colleges helping us with the designs.”
Chulbul is looking for people in sales and marketing to build the team further.
How are they different from other T-shirt selling e-com stores?
“Our USP is our theme: bright colourful youth oriented designs. While there are so many e-com stores, there is not one that caters to all the themes that appeal to the youth. Design themes like movies, biking, party, sports, fitness and travel is what we plan to do. We have started with movies and TV-series. We are coming up with biking and party themes very soon,” Anshuman explains.
Chulbulstore.com is concentrating on T-shirts for now, but intends to expand to more products like mobile covers, coffee mugs etc in the near future.
For Chulbul, marketing mostly involves social media. “We have a Facebook page with over 3000 fans. We keep posting jokes and fun facts about movies there to keep the fans involved,” says Anshuman.
Content is also part of the marketing strategy. “We write about movies, actors etc and post blogs on our website from time to time. This gets us a lot of traffic.”
Apart from this, they have also put up offline stalls in places like Sunday Soul Sante, fests, and malls and several other events. “We get a lot of exposure through them. We got to understand our target audience better when we put stalls in various shopping malls and exhibitions in Bangalore in the past few months.”
Scaling and future plans
“Right now, we have T-shirts just on one theme — movies/TV series. We plan to scale horizontally by bringing in T-shirts with designs on other youth oriented themes as mentioned above. We do not plan to launch everything under the Chulbul brand alone. We plan to partner with other companies who already have a big fan base on other themes and launch our products using co-branding. This way, it becomes a revenue model for our partner firm as well with us doing all the work starting from manufacturing up to packaging and customer support, and the partner firm using their fan base for marketing. Symbiotic scaling up is what we are looking for,” Vivek explains.
The store has already partnered with two companies: Iamabiker.com from Bangalore and Clearhai.com from Hyderabad and will be launching the co-branded T-shirts with them in July 2014.
The T-shirts are made in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, where the team has partnered with a factory for manufacturing. Inventory is kept in Bangalore. Delivery is done through a shipping solution company Bundl. “Our selling price is INR 399 right now. We have kept such low prices to build the initial traction. We will be revising the prices very soon,” Anshuman adds.
The team did a group order for Naked Wolves which is a Pulsar NS biking group all over India. The group was struggling to find a supplier who would do customized T-shirts for them at a reasonable price and good quality. They did another group order for CBR250R Riders of Bangalore. In both instances, the store has received rave reviews from their customers.