The Shirt Shop – Franchise Platform For Local Retailers – Strengthening The Small Businesses

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Networking is important if:

You are trying to tackle large projects and need help from others
You want to start a business one day or you are trying to grow your business
You are trying to advance your personal career
You want to be able to help others
You enjoy meeting others and simply growing a network of interesting individuals

Lets put it this way. Fundamentally running a business is all about making profit at its core, followed by many other reasons. But if its a business it has to make profits as simple as that. There are a million ways to increase profits e.g cost cutting, outsourcing etc etc but the most time tested way is to increase sales . Sales kills everything even recession, if you can sell enough we are good you are the leader. The best way to increase sales is through networking.
When you network you expand your horizons and find newer ways to conduct business or solve problems , hire smarter people
You increase your visibility in the circles that matter the most and that helps getting things done faster.

Today we are presenting the exclusive interview of Nitin Katiyar, founder of The Shirt Shop. It is an innovative franchisee based hassle free business model for the better serving and earning opportunities for the retails stores and individuals comes from the needy backgrounds specially woman’s, based in tier 2 & tier 3 cities.

It is a network of people for local retailers and helping them stand on their own feet and earning them bread and butter, lets go through their story in their own words and see, how they are making the difference in startup eco-system.

1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
Ans – The name of our Start up is “The Shirt Shop”. The name is good to hear and easily recognizable also it relates to the line of business.

2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
Ans – Our business model is B to B to C, therefore we are targeting
A) The local retailer sitting at the distinct market is our target franchise
B) Also the audience of every age group is our customer.

3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
Ans – We are based at Indore, M.P, India & we are targeting the markets spread in tier 2 & 3 cities.

4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Ans – ‘The Shirt Shop’, a Franchise platform for local retailers. We are strengthening the small businesses by providing them the opportunities to sell garments procured directly from factories in considerably less MOQs to sell offline & also make them sell online both through the same platform. Our platform has a unique algorithm to mobilize the inventory of the retailer through online mode, On one hand, our lean Supply Chain model provides retailers an edge over pricing which is competitive enough to stand against online giants; and on the other we provide all technical support & training to these with our own mobile application which helps them manage inventory, create bills, place orders, provide feedback & also fulfill orders online without any huge investment.

We are a team of 15+ employees, based in Indore and have been doing beta testing of our software for last two months, building a network of 20+ retailers in 4 districts in its first month of operation. From old retail shops to new comers in business, everybody is delighted to have a Supply cycle with lower lead times (which is 3 times faster than traditional supply chain), and such smart track on each step at pricing, inventory and sales.

5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
Ans – All the co-founders have a rich experience in the field of garments, its procurement, production and its supply chain, from last 4 years we are observing a steep fall in the retail sales due to the rise of e-commerce & Big Super markets in India, thanks to the unreal discounts they are offering to eliminate our local retail ecosystem, also we have observed that online garment market place is nothing but a medium to liquidate inventory for the big brands.

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Between all this the small manufacturer and the small retailer both are facing a threat for their existence, as both of them does not have the capacity to hold the stock.

After lot of discussion we came with a business model where we can improve the counter sale at the same time make our retailer to fulfill the online orders, that way they can enjoy fast inventory mobilization and greater revenue. Also we can procure the garments from small manufacturer. And hence “the shirt shop” came in to existence, it is a complete data driven platform through which our team can analyze the sale trend, also the inventory under “the shirt shop” franchise kept at the retailers point is live 24×7 for online sale, so that the end customer can get fresh items at real costs.

6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Ans – As I mentioned earlier, E-commerce and Big Supermarkets are our biggest competitors.
Our flexibility with operations and the deeper reach in market is our USP. Apart from this following are our advantages over competitors.
For e-commerce – Advantages of “The Shirt Shop”

• Consumer in Apparels still want to touch try and feel the product before purchase.

• A huge population in India is still prefer to purchase products through retailers.

• Small shop owners do not have the expertise and knowledge to list online.

• More personalize approach can be achieved through “the shirt shop” franchise.

For big supermarkets – Advantages of “The Shirt shop”

• Limited reach of the supermarkets to only metros and tier 2 cities.

• Still a large population belong to villages are afraid to buy products from supermarkets.

• same quality product can be offered in very low rates as the operation cost is low.

• The hit & try for the “the shirt shop” is very low.

• The inventory cost is low as compare to big super markets.

7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
Ans – We are three co-founders, Me , Navneet Katiyar & Mayank Raghuwanshi in the venture, We are working together from many years now and understands each other very well,

For Navneet, I would say he is more in to cutting the procurement cost but at the same time he knows very well where he should stop the bargain so that the deal would be win win for both the parties, any time when you had a conversation with him, you will find him tangled between procurements cost’s, vendors, and labor payments, all in all he is in to his work day and night hence we were open 363 days last year, for procurement and production.

For Mayank, he is more into analysis, the customer feedback, the data and anything new related to the business, you will find him reading at any given time.

8.How did you hired your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?
Ans – Our first employee was Ajay Sahu, he is a hard working person, he is almost on tour all the time, because he is deeply coincides with our policy of work and see’s his personal growth with “the shirt shop”, I would say working with a start up is difficult but he is opting it good.

When we hire we always explains the work culture of the start up, we tell them that there are no facilities what so ever you are seeking available with us, what we can give you is the experience and the art of doing business with no resources, generally the employee who understands us remains with us.

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We are looking to hire some Good managers but the start-up has its limitations, so we include it in our goals to hire few good managers down the line just to motivate ourselves.

9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
Ans – for next 2 years we are looking to register at least 300 franchise’s, and work on the overall product range and supply cycle, also there is lot to do with our Application platform so we are continuously working on that too.

Fingers crossed as every startup is looking for some sort of funding if we get one then the 5 years mark will be very exciting.

10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
Ans – I want to take “the shirt shop” the heights and therefore in 10 years may be we were be close to our goals. Not much to think for 10 years as it is a long period for business. For now everything relates to “the shirt shop”.

11.What are your immediate goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months
Ans – For coming months we are registering atleast 50 franchise’s, we are in our early stage of our product so main concentration is on the procurement and supply chain, also gradually we are educating the retailers to use the platform because it is new to them.

12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Ans – No we haven’t raised any funds yet but definitely we are looking to raise funds.

13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
Ans – When you start the business the problem begins with fund shortage, then the product development, also when technology involved then the synchronization between the physical resources and the technical resources need to look after. Then comes the product validation again you go in market with the product offering and you find that it is very difficult what you thought was easy, also the hiring part is crucial because sustaining with limited funds need a good management for the employees, you just can’t hire a high paid manager for the work, you need to create a manager from the existing team.

But all in all these small problems make the big solution for markets, and with each passing day these problems gives us strength to stand firmly to our values.

14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Ans – the most challenging part was to finalize the business model, I think when you took the first step, then the whole journey comes in front of you, and slowly when you walk you always look behind and when you see you came so far, you gets motivated to keep moving, this is how we overcome the challenges, the idea of being an entrepreneur lien in the journey not in the destination.

15.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans –well I do lot for my fitness I a regular with my gym, also in non work time I love to be with my family.

16.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Ans – The flipkart story motivates me a lot & so there promoters.

17.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans – Well my view is a bit different, I think the business should be such that while doing it you must be working for others. But for the question I would say eating a mango every day for life is no fun, but getting to eat all the fruits in the world will make your life heaven, I think you can relate to it.

18.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans – lot many thing which I wasn’t of 10 years ago, I wish if I know those things before I would do much better business now, or may be “the shirt shop” could have started earlier.

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19.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Ans – well working on a start up idea is like day dreaming, I always find myself thinking about “the shirt shop”, as to how can we do more to it. And therefore most of the time I want to be alone, hence it had some impact on the social life, but then I realize that the family is more important and I always try to be with them.

20.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Ans – Hard work always pay’s off, the thing is, if you are willing to do it or not. An entrepreneur is the one who quit a 40hrs a week job just to work for 80 hrs. So start your journey and finish what you have started.

21.Tell us something about your education & family background.
Ans – I did the Computer engineering in 2006 after that I did PGDM(Marketing & Finance), after doing some odd jobs for next 3 years, I started my business and my journey took me to “the shirt shop”, I live in a joint family with my parents, my wife & kid and my brother’s family.

22.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.

Ans – We have a easy to use App based platform therefore no need to worry about the POS integration at every retail store.

Franchising the retailer with our own procured products makes it easier for our online operations

Through our model we can penetrate deeper in to small markets. And provide technology to the distinct retailer.

Handling an online & offline sales simultaneously will generate bigger revenues both for retailers and us.

Our hit and trial cost is very low. That give us the flexibility of operations.

23. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
Ans – I think the startups now a days are concentrated to the hubs like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Noida etc. and therefore it is very difficult for a person from other areas to get noticed and appraised, also the non technical startups in the villages are also getting affected because the investors are not reaching there. I think the need of developing a homogenous eco-system for startup’s throughout the country is essential and the govt. is also working in that direction. But the speed is slow, I don’t how many good ideas are vanishing every day due to lack of support.

24. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Ans – if success is getting to do what you like, I think I consider myself as successful, in my view there is no measurement of success because the time you consider yourself to be successful your effort are gone.

25.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Name – Nitin Katiyar
Address – A-601, 601, Nilgiri Apart., Kalindi Midtown, Opposite Sahara City, A.B Road Bypass, Indore, M.P, India
Mob- 8962189477
email – [email protected], [email protected]
web – www.theshirtshop.in

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