This engineer-turned entrepreneur is providing a platform for young designers to create affordable fashion
Rakesh Das, an engineer by profession, did not know much about the apparel industry. But he was driven by the idea that budding designers needed a platform to showcase their talent. This led him to start, an online fashion marketplace where clothes are available at affordable prices.
Founded in mid-2019, the Gurugram-headquartered startup brings together all the key stakeholders – designer, manufacturer, and the customer, on a single platform.
Unlike other fashion marketplaces, which are largely focussed on the marketing and sale of products, Jerphy claims it lays equal emphasis on the designers and manufacturers or production units.
“There is very little support for these kind of sellers in India, and we decided to build a platform for the fashion designers,” says 25-year-old Rakesh.
Rakesh Das, Founder - Jerphy
Jerphy is Rakesh’s second entrepreneurial venture. Earlier, he had forayed into the healthcare industry, which did not really take off, but Rakesh says there were a lot of learnings for him.
Rakesh bootstrapped the startup with certain investments from his own savings.
During his research on the apparel industry, Rakesh, who has a degree in manufacturing technology, found that many young designers were unable to showcase their individual talent as there was no relevant platform, and many of them ended up working for large brands or export houses.
“These fashion designers, who aspire to build their own brand of apparel, find it tough as it requires a good amount of money to set up their own boutique,” says Rakesh.
It is here that Jerphy comes into play. It connects fashion designers with the manufacturing unit. The startup has tied-up with a large number of manufacturers or apparel production units, and helps designers place their requirement.
“These designers do not have to give any large orders as we enable the manufacturing of smaller volumes,” says Rakesh.
Once the apparel is manufactured, it can be sold on Jerphy’s marketplace under the brand name of the designer, and the startup takes up the responsibility of its shipment as well.
As a nascent brand in the fashion apparel segment, Jerphy believes in incentivising the customers to buy products on its platform. Every customer who buys the product from the platform will get a cash discount if they post an image of the apparel and network with another 50 people.
“This way, we are encouraging more number of people to buy products from the raw designer talent of the country,” says Rakesh.
For designers, it is a very affordable place as they just have to pay an annual subscription fee of Rs 799 to avail its services. As of now, around 1,100 designers have registered on the platform, with around 250 of them being paying customers.
On the other hand, the manufacturing units also stand to gain as they are getting orders to manufacture clothes. According to Rakesh, they are largely focussed on medium and small production units, which are export focussed, and also have certain in-house R&D expertise.
Rakesh says, “We also allow independent designers to showcase their products on our platform.”
The profile of designers on Jerphy’s platform are generally in the age group of 18-35 years, and it has got partnership with around 27 manufacturing units.
Rakesh is very clear that the core focus of Jerphy will be always towards affordable fashion, and the average selling price of the products is around Rs 700.
Jerphy has got around 1,200 products on its platform for men, women, and children. However, for now, the highest selling items are affordable designer denims.
Speaking about the business model, Rakesh says, Jerphy takes a certain commission on every product sold, and there is no cost involved for the manufacturers. However, the production costs of the apparel needs to be borne by the designer, and in case they cannot afford it, Jerphy will do the manufacturing once the design is given to them.
As of now, Jerphy, which has a five-member team, is able to generate revenue running into a couple of lakhs every month, and Rakesh says they have been making profits.
Jerphy, in future, is looking to expand to other cities like Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru. This would mean forming partnership with manufacturing units in these cities and bringing onboard the young designers.
Besides, it also plans to bring in augmented reality (AR) technology on to its platform to enable customers to try clothes virtually.
Rakesh believes there is no direct competition for the startup. However, there are some players who offer similar services, but the price of their products is quite high.
Jerphy has been able to build a customer base running into thousands with minimal marketing spend by using its capital judiciously and leveraging the network effect of the buyers.
Though Rakesh is aware of the challenges ahead, in terms of lack of hiring personnel to do deep market research or some other company with deep pockets coming out with a similar model, he remains confident about the future.
“We do not want to associate ourselves with any influencers or celebrities as Jerphy is for the middle class Indians who are value conscious and want affordable fashion,” says Rakesh.