How pivoting amidst COVID-19 is enabling growth for Indian brands: top SMB stories of the week

This week, SMBStory highlighted the story behind Fratelli, one of India’s leading wine brands, and Soch —a Bengaluru-based ethnic wear brand, which strategically pivoted to sustain amidst COVID-19 and grow manifold.
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Running a business is a roller-coaster ride. With success comes many challenges, and those who get through, set the best examples for the world. Besides resilience, pivoting to changing business trends is another crucial ingredient that defines the growth of the business. 

This week, SMBStory highlighted the story behind Fratelli, one of India’s leading wine brands, and Soch —a Bengaluru-based ethnic wear brand, which strategically pivoted to sustain amidst COVID-19 and grow manifold. 

Fratelli

Besides COVID-19, Fratelli suffered a setback in October 2020, when Kapil Sekhri, a co-founder and one of the country’s finest winemakers, died of a heart attack. 

Almost a year after his death, SMBStory caught up with his brother Gaurav Sekhri, who, along with Kapil and four others, founded Fratelli Wines more than a decade ago in 2006. 

Fratelli, which means ‘brothers’ in Italian, has seven founders in all — Kapil and Gaurav Sekhri, Alessio and Andre Secci, Arjunsinh and Ranjitsinh MohitePatil, and winemaker Piero Masi

Fratelli — known for making India’s finest wines — has undergone several changes in the past year. It has coped with the loss of one of its co-founders while staying afloat amidst the two draconian waves of COVID-19.

"Honestly, we haven’t really coped with what has happened and are still in the process of accepting things," says Gaurav Sekhri. 

“Before 2020, we had been beginning to feel that our labels don’t do justice to our wines. We received several comments from people suggesting the same. Even Kapil thought the same. So we started the process of redesigning our labels to tell a story.”

The label has seven figures holding a glass of wine, indicating the seven values of the co-founders. The label also shows a figure holding a golden glass — which indicates Kapil and the fact he is the central point of the company. 

Fratelli also introduced TiLT (wine in cans) for those who want to enjoy drinking wine in a casual setting without the fear of being judged. 

Read the full story here

Soch

The visceral thrill of shopping has drastically changed over the past few months. A decade ago, it would have been unusual for shoppers keen on getting a feel of the fabric and size to buy clothes online. 

During COVID-19, businesses that were nimble enough to quickly build their online sales channels survived during the lockdown. 

For ethnic wear brand Soch, the situation was not different. Despite having a strong offline presence in the country for close to two decades, it was the fashion retailer’s digital adoption that helped it see a 400 percent growth in sales in the new normal. 

In an interaction, Vinay Chatlani, CEO of Soch Apparels, says, 

“Before the pandemic, we were doing a small portion of our sales on Amazon and Myntra, that too, only our liquidating inventory as our sheer focus was on offline retail. But things drastically changed in the post-pandemic world, when selling online became a medium to sustain the business for the long haul.”

Bengaluru-based Soch Apparels carved out a strong place for itself in the ecommerce and D2C (direct-to-consumer) space only after the pandemic. Vinay says Soch’s business grew between 3X and 4X right after the first wave of COVID-19. 

Read the full story here.

MSMEs barriers and ways to innovation

Since the last few years, there has been a lot of buzzes around supporting India's micro, small, and medium enterprises. The government has taken crucial steps to handhold these enterprises, which contribute to 30 percent of India's GDP.   

However, the sector has been struggling to follow the innovation route. The 2019 RBI report revealed that the MSME sector is yet to benefit from the advances in digitisation, which can substantially reduce cost and time for the MSME sector.

The onset of COVID-19 pushed India towards technological development. Although the choice of digital adoption was forced for many enterprises, they pressed the pedal on it during pandemic-induced lockdowns and were able to survive. 

But what keeps MSMEs from innovating?

 

Speaking with SMBStory, industry experts like Sandip Chhettri from TradeIndia; Vikas Varma, Chief Operating Officer, South Asia, Mastercard; and Amit Kumar, Founder of MSME education and advisory platform MSMEx, talk about the real barriers to innovation among MSMEs and advise on the ways to overcome them. 

Read the full story here.

Edited by Suman Singh

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