It’s one thing to know a market well. It’s quite another to capitalize on that knowledge by addressing a pain point as simple as well-fitting, fashionable and trendy innerwear. A handful of friends did it and the solution took the shape of Clovia, the online lingerie and sleepwear brand for women. About one-and-a-half years old, the innerwear brand has clocked over 11 million users, 150,000 registrations, with nearly 15,000 products live. Clovia also claims to have covered 800 cities and ships 50,000 products every month.
According to Neha Kant, co-founder and chief revenue officer, Clovia, once she had decided she wanted to start something of her own, she knew someone had to address the innerwear space, what with its plain-vanilla options and ill-fitting products. “Lingerie is still not talked about in India, and I realized how many myths there were about innerwear. Plus, how expensive some of it was!” she says.
Taking the plunge
The idea was supported by her husband Pankaj Vermani, who also brought in friends Aditya Chaturvedi and Suman Choudhry into the venture. Chaturvedi, who is also an alumnus of Sunstone Business School, and Clovia’s chief technology officer, shares, “The beta version of Clovia went live in February 2013, and we were open for business in August 2013.”
Choudhry, the chief operating officer, has an experience of 16 years in the lingerie space and has worked with several international and national brands. He is particularly proud of the range of colours and shapes that Clovia offers, not to mention the prices. “We do a lot of research on fits and even the sourcing of materials revolves around this premise,” he says, adding how the company imports material such as underwire, and gets cups manufactured from the same units that work with reputed international brands.
With her prior experience in the ecommerce space, Kant was the primary demand-list maker, while Chaturvedi and Vermani worked on meeting them. “It took us just 56 days from concept to conception. And while we were all doing everything and riding all the horses back then, we have defined roles now,” says Vermani, adding how it is gratifying to see the discussion around lingerie becoming more easy-flowing and knowing Clovia has added to it in a significant way.
The perfect fit
All four founders are keenly focused on not only improving customer experience, but also making the processes seamless and robust. Says Chaturvedi, “For a business such as ours, it’s the inventory and marketing where most of our capital is invested. We have tools to keep track of each dollar being spent.” Moreover, 75 per cent of Clovia’s inventory is less than 30 days old. The company is investing heavily in RoI-based marketing as well as on social media.
Clovia raised seed capital from Apollo International Ltd (of the Apollo Tyres Group) and got Series A funds from IvyCap Ventures this June. With the company on a growth trajectory, it is investing heavily in marketing, research and recruitment at present. As Vermani reveals, “We would have broken even anytime we wanted to. But we are in the business of building a brand and raised funds primarily for that.” So get ready for some high-decibel campaigns in mass media such as print and magazines, along with on-ground events.
The company is also actively scouting for talents and is looking for people in specialised fields such as product management, brand management, technology, and research and development.