Whether it is a branded jacket or the wrought iron bed that you’ve always wanted, from clothes and accessories, to furniture and consumer durables, people are slowly turning towards pre-owned commerce. While platforms like OLX and Quickr are well-known and have created a strong segment of classifieds for used goods, many believe they lack an important factor – trust.
This is where a platform like Koove hopes to come into the picture. Working as a social buy, sell and exchange platform, Koove claims to bring in the element of trust and ownership. The user must register on the app and become a part of the community to sell, browse, comment, discuss, chat, help others and buy.
Every member is part of a community, based on apartments, locality or corporate. They have to verify various details like their phone number, work place, address and other important details. The members are verified and vetted by others who know them, making it more than just a social profiling. “It is easier to buy from someone you trust, rather than a complete stranger,” says 27-year-old Kamonasish Aayush Mazumdar.
Similar to shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, one can browse and window shop on the Koove app, read the comments, chat with the seller and then choose to buy something. The idea came to Rashmi R Padhy while he was in the US.
This wasn’t Rashmi’s first venture. He started ShoppersOn in 2011. His second startup TechChamp was selected by seed accelerator Start-Up Chile. Prior to 2011, he used to work as a software programmer for a Fortune 500 company in the US. Koove is a pivot of TechChamp.
Rashmi had, along with a friend, started a group to buy, sell and exchange children’s stuff in New York. It grew overnight to over 4,000 people and transactions started pouring in from the first hour.
After a couple of weeks of research and experimentation, Rashmi knew this is what he wanted to pursue. Armed with this idea, Rashmi came back to India and started looking for a co-founder. It was then that he chanced upon Rohit Kumar and Ayush through a social startup group that Rashmi managed and owned.
Rohit has been working with startups since the beginning of his career. He was one of the first employees at TooStep and worked at MyParichay too, with his last role there being that of CTO.
Aayush has handled strategy, marketing, product and category for FreeCharge, Airtel and Aircel-Maxis. He has been involved in the startup ecosystem in Bengaluru and has lent his marketing expertise to them on advisory basis in the past few years.
“The key challenges were getting a product-market fit, finding the core team and working on the initial growth. Now, we are rapidly expanding our core team across product, technology, marketing, growth and operations. We are looking for evangelists, ambassadors and champions who can help us build the platform day in and day out,” adds Aayush.
Aayush adds that even the likes of Amazon, Alibaba or Flipkart haven’t been able to the crack the social shopping experience yet. In the past few months, Koove has built access to over five lakh members, and their app has over 4,000 downloads. They intend to reach one million users by the end of the next financial year.
Currently bootstrapped, the team is looking for investment. “We would only look at partnerships and VCs who can invest their mind and hearts with us and build this as we go along. To us, the VCs need to be as invested in us as we are with them and set very high benchmarks,” adds Aayush.
On the competition, Aayush adds that they are social community first, more than just being a platform for buying and selling. He says that the current bunch of players in the segment haven’t been able to crack the social and trust aspect. “There are people who are buying and selling pre-owned goods, but not exactly using a social mode where they can trust the community to even give them suggestions on what to buy and what not to buy,” adds Aayush.
Pre-owned fashion has caught the attention of quite a few entrepreneurs in India. Spoly Elanic, Revamp My Closet, Once Again, Zapyle, and Etashee are some of the ventures that have started up in this category in recent months and years.
According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, the collaborative economy has the potential to increase global revenues to $335 billion by 2025. While there is no reliable data on the market size for pre-owned fashion, a Google report estimated that India’s online fashion market would be $35 billion by 2020.