Started by 23 year olds, Mumbai-based Paintcollar just raised angel funding


On Tuesday, Mumbai-based Paintcollar announced raising an undisclosed amount in seed round of funding from angel investor Santosh Shetty, Co-founder of Neev Technologies, and Apurva Agarwal, Founder of Universal Legal. The funding has been raised primarily for product development and hiring new talent.

As a part of the deal, both Santosh and Apurva will join the board of Paintcollar.

Paintcollar team (L to R) Deepak, Amogh, Shantanu and Akash

Paintcollar was founded in September 2014 by four 23 year olds ‑ Shantanu Mahajan, Deepak Yadav, Akash Arun and Amogh Vaishampayan. It is a marketplace for merchandise, made and sold by partner artists. According to Amogh, the idea was born out of the basic inference of how the young millennial consume art. He says,

When you look at the 18‑24-year-old category, they consume art through merchandise. That struck us to build a custom engine for artists to help them market their designs and take it to market.

The firm has a creation engine that allows the partner artists to upload their designs on a given product template, say T-shirt or phone case. On uploading the design, the artists sets his or her profit margin on the product. This product margin is coupled with the base price, set by Paintcollar to release the final pricing of the product. This base pricing levied by Paintcollar includes the cost of manufacturing, packaging, and delivering the product.

As of now the platform boasts of having close to 3,000 artists, with as many as 10 lakh SKUs available for sale.

Paintcollar works on a ‘just-in-time’ model, which allows them to incur no cost on inventory management. This means that the firm starts manufacturing the product only when the order is placed on the website.

According to Amogh, the firm ships 50‑60 products every day.

But this is not the only business model for Paintcollar. It also has an offline business, which takes B2B bulk orders for merchandise manufacturing. Amogh claims that their clients include corporates like

Times Music and institutions like IIT and IIM-Ahmedabad. At present, Paintcollar is also working to build a plug and B2B solution for clients to help them set their marketplace online.

However, currently 70 percent of their business comes from online B2C orders and the rest 30 percent comes from bulk orders.

With the present funding, the team is planning to add 15 more members across technology, logistics, and customer support.

The firm is also looking to build their tech product while adding community experience feature, which drives consumer engagement and acts as a brand building platform for artists. The firm is also looking to invest some part of the funding for artist acquisition taking the count to 15,000 by the end of the year. They also plan to enter into new product kinds, expanding that to 10 new product types by the end of this year. As of now, the platform sells five different kinds of products on the platform.

The platform ships its products pan-India. The founders also plan to expand to other geographies very soon.

The market

The platform competes with several players in different categories. Explaining the differences in competition, the founders say that their competitors work on a campaign model to sell their apparel, while on Paintcollar any artist can sell their product for any amount of time.

Further, the core difference is that artist make designs for Paintcollar’s product, while for other firms it is an internal function.

In 2014, the global merchandising industry was touted at upwards of $200 billion industry in markets like the US and Europe.

There are as many as 12 known brands operating in the apparel and merchandising space, including Jack of all Threads, Alma Mater, Socratees, Campus Sutra, No Nasties and Brown Boy (organic cotton merchandises), which are aiming at scale. However, differentiation is going to be a key factor towards building brand presence for these companies.

Paintcollar’s model is a little similar to Freecutlr’s, where the platform promotes entrepreneurship by encouraging individuals to come out and sell out their designs.

In April this year, US-based Bioworld Merchandise acquired Indian merchandiser Voxpop.

But with so much competition in this space, how some of these brands are surviving is questionable.