Earlier this month, Union Minister Smriti Irani spotted a hidden camera in a changing room in a Fabindia store in Goa. Last month, it was the turn of a 23-year-old MNC executive to find a mobile phone on video-recording mode kept inside the gap of the trial room door of Van Heusen’s showroom at Lajpat Nagar in Delhi.
It is to address this embarrassment of the customer that next generation startup Coitor has come up with the concept of a virtual trial room. All the customer needs to do is stand in front of Coitor’s screen to try different garments. The image is captured with motion sensors and each time the person’s photo pops up with the new garment, it gives a fair idea on how they look in it.
Now to look at a very user-friendly feature. “Simply by standing in front of the screen, users can share it on Facebook, Twitter and even e-mail it to their friends and family to get a feedback before they zero in on it,” says Mahendra Vellingiri, co-founder of Coitor.
Coitor has been working hard to combine the power of digital technology with the simplicity of the buying experience, thereby allowing people to benefit from technology advances in their daily lives.
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Friends who are now co-founders at Coitor
“My father runs a retail showroom in Coimbatore. At his shop, I first experienced the pain that both customers and retailers face when they come to buy clothes. There is indeed a huge gap in customer experience and engagement, so we thought of filling it up and arrived at this solution,” says Mahendra.
A team of two, Mahendra and K R Sivasubramaniyem are both engineers from Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, Anna University and Masters’ degree holder from University of South Australia, Mahendra started his career in sales as a junior consultant in Australia for a start-up company in 2010. His stint there helped him learn to create a market for a product from no-where and sell it successfully. Currently he handles strategy, sales and operations at Coitor.
Sivasubramaniyem started as a Business Analyst in a web development company in India. His involvement in product development strategies made him a Senior Business Analyst within a year. Now he believes and has hands on experience in latest technologies, handling technical team/clients and requirements. He now heads the Product Development team at Coitor, provides them the requirement details, manages the technical team and handles the product development releases.
“Our interests have always been same and we have complemented each other by taking different roles when asked to produce an output as a team” he says.
They rightly understood their strengths and have grown stronger as a team. Mahendra takes care of sales while Siva looks into technology.
“His strength is technology and mine is sales and operations, so we complement each other well,” says Mahendra.
Funds and marketing
Marketing the product would not be too difficult, feel the co-founders, given that it is a niche segment.
Our virtual trial room will give retailers an omni channel presence to reach their customers, and allow them to tryproducts from anywhere, at anytime. Through in-store,mobile and an online presence, the biggest advantage we have is that we convert a print media advertisement of a retailer into a virtual trial room and then into a sale instantly through our unique Augmented Reality platform, says Mahendra.
Coitor has two prime funders – Bijou Kurien (Investor and Advisor: Strategy) and Kishore Kasina (Investor and Advisor: Technology). Bijou is a retail veteran, with over 30 years of experience in retail and is currently a board member of ‘L‘Capital; he was earlier heading Reliance Lifestyle Business and Titan.
Kishore is an engineer with over 15 years of experience in software architecture and he works closely with Siva in developing the product. He now works as Senior Manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions.
Coitor has touched a handsome revenue in less than two years of its operations – they started around the end of 2013 and have managed to rake in revenues of Rs 15,00,000 till date.
A few more startups in this space
Talk of new startups in this space and the obvious names are Dressy, Trupi and Shopsense. All have come up with software to ease people worried over snoops.