Bengaluru-based Rapawalk manufactures shoes that you can customise based on some set patterns.
At a Glance
Founders: Kashif Mohammad and Aravind Maddireddy
Year it was founded: 2017
Where it is based: Bengaluru
The problem it solves: Provides customised hand-crafted footwear
Always liked the colour of one shoe, the fit of another, and the design of a third? Or those branded shoes looked very nice, but never did fit just right? Bengaluru-based Rapawalk has the answers. The company allows you to design your own footwear in a 3D configuration, then it takes your order and manufactures it.
Rapawalk consumers can either choose from a curated collection, or personalise a design.
The brainchild of Kashif Mohammad and Aravind Maddireddy, batch mates at IIM Ahmedabad, Rapawalk has a staff strength of 12 including the founders. Of these, five are based in Bengaluru, and seven at the company’s factory in Kanpur.
Kashif comes from a Kanpur-based family that manufactures for global premium footwear brands, and is a design enthusiast. He says, “I realised that these brands sell the products at a cost 10 times more than the cost at what we manufacture at our factory.” After IIM, Kashif went to Italy to study design. Back in India, he spoke about of the idea of Rapawalk with Arvind.
While Kashif comes with a background in product manufacturing, Aravind is an ex-investment banker turned techie entrepreneur.
“We both got incredibly excited and saw a big opportunity for Rapawalk concept, not just in India but also globally. We were inspired by eyewear company Warby Parker in the US, and have certain comparable elements from their business model. We invested close to 18 months in building technology, setting up the workshop, building teams and identifying global raw material vendors,” Kashif says.
Talking about their challenges, Kashif says, “Setting up a factory and streamlining supply chain were preliminary challenges we had to deal with. Training the workers, who are trained to produce in bulk, into how to produce personalised footwear was another issue we faced initially.”
How does it work
Rapawalk footwear will soon be available on regular ecommerce platforms and can be customised, or a customer can visit the company’s website where a 3D configurator offers 15-16 variations in one style of shoes. Colour, design, sole, size and even the width of shoes can be customised before ordering a pair.
Kashif says, “There is an inconsistency from brand to brand as far as size of shoes is concerned. That’s why there is lot of returns in ecommerce. This is where we come in and fill the gap.”
The factory is based in Kanpur, and Rapawalk sources raw material like leather from Italy and Mexico. Its design configurator offers quintessential base styles, multiple designs in each style, and an extensive choice of materials and colours.
The designing process involves
Aravind says, “We don’t have any competitors in India." On funding, Aravind adds, “We are currently self-funded. We have bootstrapped in setting up the workshop, building the technology platform, hiring team and acquiring initial customers. Now we are in advanced stages of conversations with multiple potential investors.”
Rapawalk went live just a month ago after a year of rigorous trials and validation of proof of concept. Though just a month old, the company it has its sights set on the global footwear market which according to Kashif is currently valued at $150 billion. He adds that the Indian market for the same is estimated at $5 billion.
The company is in talks with ecommerce marketplaces to sell its products, and also host its 3D configurator. The startup currently only caters to men’s shoes and is planning to roll out footwear for women next year.