From centuries one has witnessed people of all ages dawning garments with varied design, shape and cut. Fashion has travelled a long way to become a colossal phenomenon. Today, doors of Shangri La have sprung open for all fashion donors, as they have developed an eye of fashion and a knack of laying down their preference. Fashion today has become a concoction of taste, elegance, comfort and feel. Carrying the baton forward, Wooplr, an online fashion junction, attempts to feed the fashion maniacs with latest in fashion. In conversation with Retailer media, Arjun Zacharia, CEO, Wooplr discusses about the idea, business model and future prospects of the brand.
Please share your background. Your education and whether entrepreneurship was something you always wanted to do?
I graduated in Computer Engineering from NIT, Surathkal, in 2004. I have previously worked for companies like Intel, McAfee, and fintech startups Integral & Tavant for a total of 8 years, before taking the leap to create Wooplr. Wooplr is my second entrepreneurial venture; the first was Auto404, India's first public transport redressal system.
How was the idea of your start-up conceptualised? What is the need you are addressing in the market?
Wooplr is built on the concept that shopping is greatly influenced by more than just personal preferences, and aims to bring the social element back into the act of shopping. Each user can view a highly personalised feed of curated fashion products and looks, tailored to their personal taste. They can also follow fashion influencers on the platform, for virtually endless style inspiration.
The Wooplr story began in 2014, when its 4 co-founders realised that real style recommendation and inspiration was virtually non-existent. This turned into the inspiration behind building an app that is now redefining how consumers view fashion and shopping. We want to make fashion shopping more relevant, useful and engaging.
Is there a story behind the name you have given to your business?
It is a variation of the word - Woop. It means, “A shout of extreme happiness”. The idea was to use a word that signifies our aim to bring back the fun and sociability of shopping. After all, every shopping discovery should lead to ‘extreme happiness’, so, Wooplr was perfect.
What is your business model? Please share numbers of founders, product/services offered and current business size.
Our business model is defined by 3 C’s: Content, Community & Commerce.
Content: The traditional eCommerce practice follows the model of search & filters to facilitate discovery of relevant fashion products. This does not consider the fact that fashion discovery is more about personal choices, styles & trends, which we are focused on. We solve this problem by providing each user with a targeted & personalised feed of user & influencer looks, relevant users to follow, and editorial content.
Community: From the very beginning, we have focused on actively building a community of users including influencers, bloggers, models & brands. This community together ensures there is an unlimited feed of fashion inspiration for every user. Our team works with an active community of nearly 20K users on a daily basis. The team also engages with 1000+ key opinion leaders in the fashion space.
Commerce: On the seller front, we work closely with a select group of fashion brands & long-tail merchants, a mix of online & offline retail brands. We currently work with nearly 100 brands, and seek to work with 1000-odd brands by FY18. We focus on personalisation & fashion, rather than discounts & sales, unlike other eCommerce platforms. We take a revenue share on completed transcations, which is our revenue. Today, we process around 200 orders a day & expect to hit 1000 orders per day in the next few months.
Wooplr has been Co-founded by four Ex-McAfee employees with diverse backgrounds. The team consist of Praveen Rajaretnam, Head, Brand Alliances; Arjun Zacharia, CEO; Ankit Sabharwal, Chief Product Officer and Soumen Sarkar, Chief Marketing Officer.
Who is your target consumer? Could you please share how you have detailed your consumer?
The Facebook user audience estimated of 20Mn women in the age group 16-30 in India is our immediate target audience. We see this audience growing to 80Mn by 2020.
Have you raised any funding so far? What are your plans to use this funding for?
We have raised 5Mn$ from Helion Ventures as a part of our Series A round. We have heavily invested in our team to build a robust and world-class product. We want our users to have a seamless shopping experience and the stores to have the best platform to sell their products and that starts with getting the right talent and the best people to help us achieve that goal.
What was it that attracted the investors to your business? Have you had to pivot your business in anyway that has worked for you?
We have always been a discovery platform enabled by a higihly active community. Our approach which balances – content, community & commerce, gives a complete experience to the average shopper. There is no platform that combines our capacity to deliver this experience in India today. This is our pitch to investors & this has helped us get some strategic investments from key industry stalwarts validating our vision for the business.
We have never pivoted, though we have refined our focus over the past 3 years of inception. From being spread across food, fashion & décor, we decided to focus on women’s fashion, which was the one segment we had maximum traction with the community.
What is your team size? What is your office culture like?
At the beginning of 2015, we were 11 members incliuding the founders & today our team today is 70+ and growing.
The Critical drivers of our culture are:
Ownership: Employees who indicate a high level of ownership are appreciated & enabled to get things done.
Transparency: We maintain a flat structure and have ensured that no one in the management is inaccessible in any way to our employees.
Sharing: Knowledge sharing across teams on the floor ensures that no good idea is looked over.
Enabling: The leadership is tasked with this key responsibility to enable the growth & learning of their team.
Bi-weekly town-halls ensure that the floor is open to team members raising concerns, questions & challenges for the management & founders to respond to. Beer-Friday’s and Movie nights are a few of our regulars that help the team take a break and stay engaged.
What has been your A-ha Moment in the business? (The high point)
This was during the initial year of our inception, the growth interest in Wooplr with women era. Women are able to freely express their style & connect with other users, brands & influencers. We received a lot of feedback from our women users about how the platorm helped them discover brands & fashion trends. This consequentially helped our listed retailers increase footfall & brand awareness.
How do you see growth scenario is this business? What are your future scale-up plans?
By 2020, the Indian women smartphone user base is projected to hit 100Mn, which is an estimated audience of 22Mn in 2015. The Fast fashion brands segment in India that includes Forever 21, Zara, etc. are an estimated $600Mn market in India. The fast fashion Putting together these two We expect this market to
We are working to see that every urban woman shopper in India starts her shopping journey on Wooplr. Towards this end, in the next two years we aim to achieve a target of 10 Million Monthly highly Active users, while focused on a curating a 1000+ Fashion Brands, and processing 10K orders per day.