How two 21-year-olds made Rs 20 crore in 2 years selling t-shirts
NIFT students Praween KR and Sindhuja K set up Young Trendz to target fashion-conscious 20-somethings; their bootstrapped brand sold 25,000 units on Flipkart in five days during the 2017 festive sale.
Praween KR (from Bihar) and Sindhuja K (from Hyderabad) were students when the entrepreneurial bug bit. In their seventh semester of the knitwear design bachelor’s course at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai, the duo decided that they wanted to do something of their own, on their own.
It was 2015, and e-commerce was making a lot of noise. The duo decided to go with the flow; they started their own online clothing brand, Young Trendz, in September with an investment of Rs 10 lakh. In two months, they had started selling on online marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, Voonik and Paytm, and launched their own e-commerce website.
Their growth was fast. Before the semester ended, they were participating in college events with freebies and providing customised T-shirts under the Young Trendz brand.
“We started with 10 orders a day on our website. By the eighth semester, we were doing customised T-shirts by collaborating with more than 100 colleges across the country, including IITs and IIMs,” Sindhuja recollects.
The startup has grown to around 1,000 orders a day, and has generated an impressive GMV of Rs 20 crore with zero VC funding.
From Chennai to Tirupur
As Young Trendz grew, their priority was to have a seamless product development channel, which was only possible in Tirupur, the knitwear and manufacturing hub of India.
The founding duo was confident about the shift as they knew they could source and manufacture quality products, having visited Tirupur for college projects.
But both Praween and Sindhuja were not Tamil speakers, which caused them a few problems in the initial days. However, the Tirupur shift proved beneficial in terms of product development and sourcing raw materials.
“In Tirupur, we got the right people with the best skills in garment industry for product development; we got talented IT professionals from Coimbatore for online web operations,” Praween says.
Logistics were not a problem as shipments tend to be picked up by the respective marketplaces’ courier partners.
Catering to a large audience
As the name suggests, Young Trendz is about young people and trending designs. Hence the tagline: Stay Young, Live Trendy. The brand targets youth in the age group 18-28 years; their products feature quirky graphics that resonate with the youth.
Sindhuja says: “We monitor trending things on social media and day-to-day life for our inspiration (for graphics). The competition is very tough; our products compete with almost 1.5 lakh products to be on the first page (on online marketplaces), which mostly includes international and homegrown brands.”
With a team of 30 people, Young Trendz now has warehouses in Telangana, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, and will soon open one in West Bengal.
Sindhuja says these warehouses help cater to their customers pan-India. They get highest demand from Delhi, followed by north-eastern states and West Bengal, and 90 percent shipments are delivered to the customer before the promised date.
Young Trendz was the first to introduce the concept of couple clothing, a popular trend in the Chinese and Korean markets, to India.
Around Valentines’ Day in 2016, they did a trial by selling limited stocks. The great response and requests from customers led to further additions and couple clothing comprises 20 percent of sales today.
Sindhuja says graphics, implementation of international trends, and quick delivery work as their USP. Young Trendz now has three designers, and outsources photoshoot and ad campaign shoots.
Sindhuja claims that Young Trendz’ quality is unmatched and the range – priced between Rs 250 and Rs 600 – is affordable to the college-goer. As they appeal to a large audience, they have more than 3,500 products uploaded across all e-commerce marketplaces, which generate 70 percent of their revenue. Collections are refreshed twice a month and the team keeps social media followers updated with exciting offers and discounts.
Praween says: “In Flipkart, we were recently awarded as one of the top brands in terms of performance during this year’s Big Billion Days. The response during this festive season sale was so good that we sold around 25,000 units in just 5 days.”
In 2018, Young Trendz will set up offline stores and add new categories to their collection. But they have no plans to raise funds, and want to continue bootstrapped. The co-founders are positive that they will be profitable in 2018.
“There’s actually more responsibility involved in starting a business versus having a regular job. You must relentlessly chase perfection. You have to be able to adapt to crazy, unexpected things,” Sindhuja says.
With both partners coming from a non-business background, they had to learn a lot of new tricks for the trade – reading Class 12 accounts books, learning a new language (Tamil), and understanding taxes.
Their hard work seems to have paid off – this year, they are reaching a turnover of Rs 20 Crore, which Praween says is four times that of last year.
With fashion and apparel comprising a large chunk of the e-commerce pie, Young Trendz seems set for a bright future.