With advanced AI, bootstrapped Findow aims to be the Zomato for fashionAthira Nair
Online platform Findow offers shoppers an ‘exclusive window to the fashion world’; the startup enables discovery of nearby stores and labels, and provides virtual boutique options to designers.
At a Glance
Founder: Zarine Bajaj
Year it was founded: 2016
Where it is located: Delhi
The problem it solves: Discovery of fashion retail stores
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
A couple of years ago, Zarine Bajaj set out to find must-have fashion pieces in Delhi. But she was at a loss: where to start? However, for lunch, her iPhone enabled her to seamlessly discover places to eat on Zomato.
That was a eureka moment for Zarine, 36, who has a post-graduate degree in media studies from the UK and has worked in the media industry for more than a decade.
Findow, which worked on the concept of Zomato-like discovery for fashion, was born in July 2016. Having headed PR and marketing for designer Gaurav Gupta previously was an advantage for Zarine. She knew that the fashion retail sector was yet to be organised, and technology could help retailers explore its full potential.
Zarine explains, “The rapid growth of fashion labels makes is hard to keep up with what’s new and where one can get fantastic discounts. Findow curates information after intensive research and presents it to the user.”
Findow, which stands for fashion window, helps shoppers discover fashion by introducing them to brands, boutiques, retailers, and designers. It enables you to see the closest shops, making walk-ins more purposeful for brands. Shoppers can also purchase those products through the Findow app.
Additionally, Findow allows virtual store commerce, allowing customers to access live virtual racks of stores across town and also empowers walk-in customers with a self-checkout app.
AI for fashion
As part of market research, Zarine engaged with designers to understand their needs. “The fashion sector requires organisation and our model would keep working on tech solutions for designers. We can support them to concentrate on their creative side rather than needing lengthy marketing and organisational strategies,” she says, adding that new technologies can improve customer experience.
According to Zarine, AI in fashion can help brands and retailers with predictive forecasting, capacity planning, and merchandising. “This also means that consumers can enjoy the benefits of better product availability and faster deliveries,” she says.
Findow enables automation of covering inventory, orders and billing, customer relationship management, and more. Its tech simplifies the purchasing, monetisation, customer management, store analytics, and contextual selling capability of brands.
Zarine claims that by using Findow’s services, retailers provide a seamless and personal experience for customers, which increases conversion and loyalty. Next, Findow wants to create chatbots and futuristic stores, which can detect costumers and analyse their shopping preferences.
Not just discovery
On the Findow app, customers can create their personal style diaries, review fashion brands/ designers, and also search for products by leading designers. They can also share on social media, making a marketing ripple for the brands and boutiques.
According to Zarine, their target customer is anyone who invests in upkeep of their personal taste and wants to keep up with trends. On the designer side, their target is fashion designers between the ages of 23 and 50.
Findow ties up with local fashion events in different cities to discover more designers in need of sophisticated boutique solutions and customer management.
Since its launch, the Findow app has been downloaded more than 2,000 times across Mumbai and Delhi. Findow has also received traction from premium, high-street, and luxury brands, including Gucci, Dior, Hermes, Ritu Kumar, Manish Arora, Anju Modi, and Rahul Mishra among others.
Users can browse categories such as “popular” or “bridal” and like, share, or comment on their favorite snaps. Findow also provides feeds from featured boutiques as well as fashion experts.
Not an easy journey
The tech sector in India is often perceived to be a man’s world. But according to Zarine, the fashion world is very open, receptive, and respectful towards women. “I feel that as a woman who understands fashion, once we move beyond gender perceptions, people recognised the novelty and subtle sensibilities of what was being suggested and offered as solutions. So I feel once the biases were out of the way, it (being a woman) was an advantage in the work I do,” she says.
Zarine has the full support of her husband Sumeher Bajaj, who is a solicitor and advises on strategic, long-term value proposition. She is also mentored by her father-in-law Jaspinder Bajaj, designer Gaurav Gupta, FICCI Secretary General Dilip Chenoy, and Yatra SVP Vaibhav Suri.
The toughest part of a startup is to get organised with limited resources. So initially a team was set up to build the tech and conduct testing without wasting resources.
To avoid over-ideation and under-delivery, Zarine had made sure that each member of the team was acquainted with the larger picture of delivering the product.
Zarine felt “a visible hesitance” among offline retailers to adapt tech for better management. “Presently we are hand-holding designers and customising tech to their individual needs. The process is challenging but the reception by the customers/designers is great,” she adds.
So far, Findow has spent about Rs 40 lakh, mostly in building technology and marketing. Now a team of nine spread across legal, marketing, research and tech development, Findow is functional in New Delhi and is spreading to Mumbai, Bengaluru, and other metros and Tier II cities.
This year, Findow is targeting 400-500 upcoming designers in Delhi alone, and aims to grow their market share by 20 percent annually.
Thanks to Findow’s unique business model, competition is scarce - except maybe for online ecommerce fashion websites and warehouse inventory sites.
Findow provides designers with different types of subscription modules, customised according to their needs, starting from $800 and goes up to $4000 annually. The startup additionally takes 15-20 percent commission on their sales too. Zarine claims that even if they don’t raise funding, they will be profitable in two quarters.
“If we raise funding and start offering customised and backbend solutions, we could earn profits from the first quarter from the day of raising funding. We would require funding for aggressive marketing and R&D for backend solutions,” she adds.
Indian fashion retail market, now worth $46 billion, is expected to reach $115 billion by 2026. The opportunity is great for all types of players in the industry. Findow has just opened the window!