By Advith Nagappa
Anyone who has been through college will be aware of the hassles of creating a custom tee-shirt/apparel for an event or for a class. From designing the apparel to collecting cash to paying the vendor to collecting apparel from the vendor to distributing them, the entire process is bundle of hassle. Yet, there are thousands of students across the country who make train journeys on shoestring budgets to meet vendors in Tirupur and make this happen.
Freshmonk, a startup offering a platform to create and sell custom apparel online, has solved this exact problem. Founded in November 2013, by Prashant Gulati, UC Berkeley alumni and a former banker in the US, and Shashank Agrawal, an Electrical Engineering graduate, Freshmonk allows a consumer to design and sell a retail-quality apparel without a single rupee upfront.
If you are forum of enthusiasts who’d like custom tee-shirts celebrating your enthusiasm at the cheapest price, without upfront costs, shipped individually to different members of your forum, their model will work for you
If you looking to raise money for an NGO by donating the profits from your tee-shirt, their model will work for you too.
If you are a designer who is looking to make profits, their model will work for you.
How does it work
The model allows the campaigner to designing a tee shirt, nominate a selling price, create a sales target, select a shipping option and launching a campaign. The campaign now needs to spread the word to get enough people interested(backers). The backers go to the website and pay to order for the tee-shirt. Once the sales target, as set by the campaigner, is reached, the tee-shirt production begins and is shipped to the individual backer or to the campaign owner depending on the shipping option.
The campaign owner can then withdraw the profit from the website. Money is received within 14-17 days.
The model in its current form is aimed at grouped consumers. People who have common interests and would like to express the interest in the form of tee-shirt camaraderie; such as Universities, NGOs, Unorganized/Organized political enthusiasts, event organizers, unofficial fan clubs of sports teams, or simply a bunch of friends and family who want to celebrate a sense of togetherness.
It also gives an opportunity for amateur designers to launch a campaign for their designs without upfront costs.
The startup is currently run by the two co-founders; they intend to add to their operations and marketing team.
In the next phase of growth, they intend to offer a palette of 20 fabric colors and hit a shipment of 10,000 tee-shirts per month.
Freshmonk is essentially attempting to organize a largely unorganized market. There is a huge demand for custom tee-shirts, but the problem is that it is very distributed. It is never the case that one community has a demand for 100,000 tee-shirts, but it is likely to be that 200 communities need 500 tee-shirts. Previous attempts to capture the custom apparel market failed to recognize and cater to the distributed nature of this demand.
The startup uses a pre-sell or zero inventory model. Until the sales target is reached , production doesn’t begin; when it does, the apparel is all paid for.
Campaign owners are completely isolated from back-end activities such as negotiation, procurement, printing and shipping. These are taken care of by the company without upfront expenses. They can track the sales and profits created by their campaign on a real-time basis.
The startup appeals to the sense of community. Yes, sense of community is a real thing, it even has a Wikipedia page and an Index. Sorry Ayn Rand.
The company website is well integrated with the popular social media-platforms, allowing the campaign owner to spread the word for her design and reach the sales goals.
The interface is simple and easy to use with clear communication [buttons] indicating the workflow.
Changes and such
The range of apparel is limited to a round-neck tee shirts in 8 different colors; while this could be intentional as the focus remains on specific interests groups, the offerings can be increased as the next step to woo design enthusiasts, both amateur and professional.