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CaptainKYSO: An E-Community Built Around Internationally DesignedT-shirts

Meghna Chhabria
10th May 2012
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Right about now you’re probably wondering, “Er..who or what is CaptainKYSO again?” I wondered too, so I couldn’t stop myself from finding out more!

Captain KYSO is an initiative which injects the world of T-shirts with a unique, fun and interactive experience. With an emphasis on community building and crowd sourcing, CaptainKYSO is where ‘one distinctive, limited edition, make-people-jealous’ t-shirt design is featured every day. The t-shirt for the day is sold at a low price for 24 hours and each design is crowd-sourced from an international artist or t-shirt designer. They have licensed original and exclusive designs from designers from more than 20 countries as diverse as US, UK, Spain, Germany, France, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Russia.

CaptainKYSO(Keep Your Shirt On) was launched in March 2012 out of a passion for good design and art and to build an e-commerce store which had an “atmosphere” along with products. “Along with getting to buy a great new t-shirt every day for a fabulous low price, a member of the KYSO community can read a hilarious write up about the t-shirt design, know more about the artist who created the design, interact with him or her and also with other members of the community and share views and experiences,” says Founder & CEO, Tarun Shah.

In an attempt to make the entire website fun and interactive, they have incorporated a lot of Game Mechanics features such as badges and reward points for participating in community activities, upvoting of comments, t-shirt designing contests with cash prizes and a chance to see your design getting printed and sold as a t-shirt.

CaptainKYSO is also involved in the entire backward integration of the t-shirt manufacturing process, right from the first thread of cotton to the last drop of ink through which the t-shirt is manufactured. “Our business model is quite simply to use crowd sourcing and the community to design some unique t-shirts which no other company or brand is offering, and to match the high quality designs with an equally good product in terms of quality, price, logistics and service levels,” says Tarun.

CaptainKYSO currently has a 6 member team. Tarun is a Chartered Accountant

and MBA (Finance) from NMIMS by education. He has about 10 years of experience in the public and private equity markets and has worked with various Indian and international financial institutions and banks in this space. Their team also consists of 2 key members looking after production, who have a combined experience of more than 30 years in garments exports and manufacturing.

CaptainKYSO has an online and offline presence. Online, they deliver across the world. They have a Singapore based logistics company taking care of their international shipments and logistics and 3 – 4 Indian companies handling their domestic shipments. They ship anywhere in India within 5 working days. They offer a COD facility as well.

Offline, they have started selling their products through a mid-sized retail chain with about 17 stores across the country. “We are also in talks with many large format retail stores to stock our products, in order to reach a larger audience and to showcase our brand effectively. Our target group are people in the18 – 35 age group, educated and with a keen sense of humour and style,” says Tarun.

Ask Tarun what makes CaptainKYSO different, and he says, “There are a number of things that make us unique:

  • In India, most e-commerce websites focus on selling rather than community interaction. We at CaptainKYSO are trying to provide the user with a comfortable, friendly and fun shopping experience, where he gets to know a lot of new things about the item that he or she is buying. Our website has a very friendly, informal “bloggish” feel to it, which is not present in any other website. We aim to be a community, not a store
  • Secondly, the whole concept of a “Daily deal for t-shirts” is not common in India. We are the only Indian company where every day’s design is by an international professional t-shirt designer
  • The website is very focussed on just the t-shirt space as opposed to being a general website where you can buy different items. So if anyone is looking to buy unique t shirts, CaptainKYSO is the place to drop in. Since we follow a crowd sourcing model, we can give our users an unmatched variety of designs that reflect various design styles, cultures, thoughts and ideas. “

The biggest challenge that they have faced so far is marketing and making the public aware about them, without having any significant advertising budgets to work with. The time required for international shipping is another challenge. “If we can reduce shipping time, the international market is likely to be a highly lucrative market for us. Even without advertising or any promotion internationally, we are seeing a steady stream of orders from all parts of the world on a daily basis,” says Tarun. The tendency to get categorised and compared with other companies and types of t-shirts has been bothersome as well, although, they are on their way to carving out a distinct niche, having 500-1000 UVs per day in less than 2 months since launch.

For other interesting stories in the T shirt designing space, you must read about Hung Shoe, I Wear Me, and Dezains!

For more on CaptainKYSO, visit their website, here.


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