Bootstrapped with Rs 10k, how this Noida-based company clocks Rs 30 Cr turnover without wasting water, electricity
When fast fashion dictates what should be worn in a particular season, trends get quickly replaced, and the apparel industry deals in plenty of out-of-season clothing that utilised scarce environmental resources.
The Indian textile industry is at a whopping $150 billion and is expected to reach $250 billion by 2019. According to Invest India, India is among the world's largest producers of textiles and garments. But this also means there is plenty of wastage from the apparel industry, which guzzles precious resources like water, in a country starving of it.
This did not set well with Nitin Kapoor (32) and Amit Gupta (34), founders of ecommerce platform Indian Beautiful Art. They decided to integrate the ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) inventory management method into their venture.
The JIT model is used by several companies around the world as concerns surrounding wastage and efficiency sprang up to relook the existing inventory and stock-keeping systems. And Indian Beautiful Art has embraced it to do their bit to save water, electricity, and other scarce resources, and cause as little impact on the planet as possible.
Indian Beautiful Art is one of the largest online sellers in the ecommerce industry for Indian products globally. The company was co-founded by two entrepreneurs in New Delhi in the year 2009 with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 10,000.
Nitin was working at a private bank and Amit was working with eBay when the duo decided to join hands and start something of their own.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Nitin says,
When Amit and I thought to open our own ecommerce portal, ‘startup’ was not a buzzword. People were cynical about our plan. But we realised that there is a lack of dominance of Indian products in the international market. Hence, we came up with the idea to sell ‘Made in India’ products globally through ecommerce.”
The journey began when they sourced products from manufacturers across India in Khambat, Ahemdabad, Jaipur, Meerut, Kolkata, Khurja, Moradabad, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Lucknow, to sell in other countries, including the US and the UK.
The company started small by selling lace trimmings and embellishments as well as garment accessories—popularly referred to as gota patti in India—used to enhance women’s clothing, and later expanded across categories, including readymade clothing.
The company raised an angel funding round of Rs 40 lakh in 2010.
Addressing environmental issues
With the passing years, these young entrepreneurs understood the shortcomings of the textile industry. Nitin says though India is one of the largest manufacturers of textiles and apparels, the country is also facing the worst environmental scenarios.
An average T-shirt uses 400 to 600 gallons of water to be produced, while a pair of jeans needs 1,800 gallons of water. With the sudden change in trending patterns, most of the garments by the brands are dumped, thereby wasting resources. When an inventory is dumped, 30-40 percent of the water goes down the drain,” he adds.
With water scarcity looming across the country, more than 600 million people are facing 'acute' water shortages, and 21 Indian cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020.
Thus, the co-founders decided to incorporate JIT to conserve water.
After much trial and error lasting two years, Nitin and Amit came up with their JIT model in 2015. Managing their inventory using a ‘demand-oriented production’ methodology, they were able to keep the utilisation of natural resources in check, along with avoiding dumping of waste fabric or garments.
At Indian Beautiful Art, the garment is only manufactured once the customer has placed their order. Right from printing to dispatching the product, the order is managed just within 48 hours and then dispatched with zero wastage of natural resources, claims Nitin.
This lean methodology has also helped the company do away with warehousing costs, which can add up for both online and offline retailers.
To work in this compact timeline of 48 hours, the company has deployed machinery imported from Japan, Korea, and China. These machines automatically cut, print, and stitch the garments as per the order with negligible human intervention.
The prints on the clothes are tested using technology. This effectively cuts the cost of photoshoot production and creates a single prototype for various patterns of the same garment. The colours and designs can be changed directly with sizes till 5XL, saving time and resources.
This model eliminates all kind of wastes:
- Inventory wastes: all raw materials, work in progress (WIP), and inventory held in the company.
- Wastes in transportation.
- Wastes from overprocessing when a company manufactures more than the demand.
- Wastes from defect.
- Waste of resources such as electricity, gas, water, and others.
At present, the company follows the JIT business model for its garments, home furnishing, and paper and printing categories.
The company also deals in jewellery, health and beauty, bed and bath, automobile accessories, pet accessories, and other categories sourced from around 1,000 small and medium manufacturers based out of India.
Indian Beautiful Art delivers around 31,000 orders per month to its customers located across the US, the UK, Southeast Asia, Germany, Australia, South Africa, and more.
It records an annual turnover of Rs 30 crore.
The company now plans to start O2O (Online to Offline) model in garments where the customer would be able to check the physical sample of the product at a physical store and then buy the colour or print by looking at the model image.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)