Campus merchandise seems to have caught the attention of quite a few startups bridging the gap of supplying organized ‘pride wear’ inventory. There’s Alma Mater Store, eSparsha, and Pridewear to name a few. An Indore-based startup is all geared to challenge players in this segment.
CampusMall.in, a multi-channel brand licensing company, helps students and alumni across India to flaunt their institute pride by providing high-quality personalised merchandise. Their merchandise reflects the ethos of the institute. Headquartered in Indore, CampusMall assists elite schools and colleges across India to set up their merchandise engagement programmes.
“Institutes can also procure consistent quality, reliable service, and timely product delivery of uniforms for their students. The current network is highly fragmented and unorganised,” says 32-year-old Co-founder and CEO Ankur Gupta, an MBA graduate from DePaul University, USA.
“Alumni or associations can get memorabilia designed and delivered by licensing with us. We can offer them a plethora of options for events, reunions, promotions, etc.,” adds Co-founder Arpit Badjatiya (33), an IIM-C graduate, who majored in Engineering from Purdue University.
CampusMall is a one-stop e-store for any institute that wants to build a strong emotional connect among students, faculty, and alumni and even aspiring students. Licensed merchandise includes T-shirts, polos, hoodies, sweatshirts, mugs, caps, and accessories, etc.
“Overall, our idea is to organise the institute branded merchandise and uniforms while ensuring that the institute or alumni associations are benefiting from branding,” briefs Co-founder Siddharth Badjatiya (32), a computer science engineer, who got his masters from USC Los Angeles.
Ankur spent almost a decade in the US, where he was working for a noted insurance brokerage company Marsh. H eventually got interested in education startups in India after observing some and decided to take up an education Smart Class franchise in India.“ I moved back to India in August 2011,” informs Ankur who, after visiting over 100 schools and colleges across the region, sold nothing. He eventually joined hands with Arpit and Siddharth, who had founded a company selling ERP to educational institutes, and were ideating on an institute merchandise portal. Ankur decided to chip in but the three of them got onto a new direction.
“We realised most of the colleges and institutes approached bulk wholesalers or retailers for their apparel needs. Alumni associations, on the other hand, got merchandise customised once or twice a year during reunions or founders day. The supply usually was limited in quantity and quality along with the problem of dead stock or dearth of stock,” informs Ankur.
“We found a whole new un-organised market waiting to get tapped. Our vision was to provide a dedicated e-store for the institutions and associations so they could shop without cost or management hassles,” adds Arpit.
CampusMall’s first customer was The Daly College, Ankur’s alma mater, followed by noted names in the segment, including SIMSREE, Narsee Munjee Institute of Management, SP Jain in Mumbai, NIT Kurukshetra, The Scindia School Gwalior, Lawrence School Lovedale and the likes. The startup engages with its customers in three ways:
“The HRD ministry reports that there are 14 lakh primary and k-12 institutes, over 700 universities, and at least 36,000 colleges across India. A research report by Icon Group International (a leading market research group) estimates uniform business in India to be approximately $ 1.4 billion (2013). We have carved out a demographics consisting of 1,000 institutes who would be our primary targets based on their legacy, heritage, and geography,” informs Arpit.
According to him, “Each of our competitors has a niche offering while we want to be the ‘go-to-brand’ in the segment. Currently, we run dedicated online stores for over 85 institutes based in at least 40 cities across India. In the near future, our plan is to run e-stores for 500 institutes, which is a curated list of schools and colleges.”
The founders draw inspiration from various books and experience as students in the US educational system. However, Ankur is specifically stumped by the book ‘Execution’ by Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy. “The gist of it is that there are a lot of great ideas and many talented people chasing those ideas, however, it’s the execution that really defines your success,” he says.