[Startup Bharat] From Rs 7 lakh to Rs 3 Cr in revenue, this Ludhiana venture sells customised apparel to Google, Amazon, and UberEats
Like most students Litesh Gumbar, Bandhul Bansal, Vinayak Kalra, Rupin Mathur, Sahil Thakur, and Nishant Chawla, students of PEC, Chandigarh, were looking forward to joining coveted clubs and societies of their college.
But their customised club T-shirts, which were supposed to give them joy and ‘street cred’, disappointed them instead.
“We were disgruntled that something we paid a lot of money for turned out to be of poorer quality than anything we’d worn before. And we weren’t the only ones,” Litesh recalls.
Years laters, Bandhul won “ICICI Trinity”, a business planning competition, and was looking for ideas to develop. He approached Litesh, and they realised there was a business opportunity in their old problem. Vinayak and Rupin joined them, and the friends started QuadB in Ludhiana in 2014.
A custom apparel startup, QuadB focusses on delivering premium quality products. Sahil joined the team after production started.
Setting up the manufacturing
“Being from an industrial town, we knew some technicalities and were familiar with manufacturing processes enough to believe in our ability to do something good,” Litesh says.
One of the main concerns for the bootstrapped startup was delivering high-quality products to the customer and building a manufacturing unit. Setting up a manufacturing unit is a capital-intensive process.
“In the early days, we used labour-intensive machinery, which produced good products but at a slightly higher cost. But since some of us had a production engineering background, we designed our machines with a lot of research and hard work, using world-renowned manufacturing techniques like Virtual Assembly Line (VAL) and Just in Time (JIT),” he adds.
The machinery was rented from different manufactures and providers, and the startup uses part-time labour to make the products as per the team’s specifications. This helped manufacture quality products that were also cheaper and faster to make. This helped the startup to scale fast and service clients across India.
As more orders flowed in, QuadB’s basic source machinery and infrastructure could not keep up. The startup decided to crowdfund Rs 20 lakh from family and friends to help.
Litesh says this money was used to pay off the initial debt the team had taken from the manufacturers for the assembly line. The money also helped QuadB set up its own factory in Ludhiana. The founders decided to take this on lease.
At any given time, the startup has close to 50 workers. At present, it has corporate offices set up in Chandigarh, Mohali, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Kochi.
Rising sales and big clients
QuadB lets you customise, design, and even choose the stitching of the fabric. Working on a B2B model, the startup claims to have the likes of IITs, IIMs, UberEats, L’Oreal, Google, Microsoft, JP Morgan, and Amazon as some of the clients.
Products range from single-day budget T-shirts that start from Rs 80 to premium corporate apparel that can cost up to Rs 1,500. The team claims to have over 100 product types and 20 different cloth variations. The startup’s margins vary from 10 to 40 percent, with an average of 18 percent. QuadB claims to get over 120 orders a month of close to 85 pieces each.
“We service customers who have dizzyingly different requirements. Our pricing depends on quantity, quality, customisations, etc. All of this is achieved while not compromising on the quality,” says Litesh.
The market and future
Customised clothing is fast growing in India. Reports suggest that the total size of the market for customised merchandise is 110 million customers. Of these, 20 million are college students, 40 million are corporate employees at mid and senior levels, and the remaining 50 million belong to the middle class.
Varun Agarwal founded Alma Mater Store, a Bengaluru-based customised apparel brand, and raised $200,000 from Harminder Sahni, Managing Director of Wazir Advisors this July. Apart from Alma Mater, there also is Chandigarh-based SocksBakery that makes premium-quality designer socks for men.
In 2014, QuadB claims to have generated revenue of Rs 7 lakh. The team says that by 2018, it rose to a whopping Rs 3 crore. The startup says it fulfiled more than 13,000 orders for over 700 customers across India.
QuadB has expanded its operations to 100 cities, 20 states, and five countries already, the founders say.
“We took a major financial leap last year. We plan to build franchises all around India during the next couple of years while keeping an eye on an IPO in the next five years,” Litesh says.
The startup also plans to expand internationally to grab a major chunk of the market share of custom apparel industries in the US soon.
(Edited by Saheli Sengupta)