Life becomes easy when you have your own personal wingman, a life coach or even a personal fashion assistant, to help you make fashion choices. Indian startup ecosystem has witnessed launch of number of startups in the fashion category. Be it shopping, renting clothes or even social commerce – fashion as a category has spread its wings all over.
Cashing upon the market of fashionista’s personalized fashion app WithMe, founded in August 2015 by Ashutosh Pandey, Nithin Kaimal, Amit Gupta, and Shishir Maheshwari, is the new hub for all fashion aficionados. Mumbai-based WithMe is a platform built around fashion inspiration and ideas that help its users decide on what to buy or wear.
The platform has a bunch of fashion experts and a user community to answer the queries of users in real time. In today’s technology driven world, WithMe tends to serve its users with a user-friendly interface wherein one can simply click and upload photos of their outfits and seek opinions and feedback from friends, experts and the public in general.
WithMe was started with a motive to serve the younger generation for its thirst for fashion; as a platform of reassurance where their need for experts and opinions can be catered to. Ashutosh saw fashion as a category where social life comes under consideration, i.e. people like to wear what others love.
Traction So Far
So far, the application has managed to get over 15000 users, with 7-10% of them engaging on a daily basis. Interestingly, on an average, a user (between the age group 13-26 years) spends around around 12-15 minutes on the platform. The founders aim to create a platform for real time users who need genuine fashion opinions. The company aims to engage 2 Mn users by the end of this fiscal year and eventually spread its wings across the nation.
Ashutosh also stated that they’re in discussion with a few brands and offline retail stores that’ll help the users with a better understanding of the fashion world. The company claims to be targeting a $100 Bn market across apparel, beauty, jewelry, and other fashion categories in India. “The need we are addressing is global – we plan to take the product to other markets over time”, said Ashutosh.
Monetisation and Competition
WithMe aims to generate revenues through sponsored contents and advertisements. With the dynamic environment encompassing startups, the key challenges faced by WithMe lays in the identification of its real time users and a balance between the addition of new features and developments. WithMe sees Roposso, Instagram and Whatsapp as its competitors, but the founders believe that the new features and their USP of ‘your own personal fashion assistant’ shall surely deliver success. There are other homegrown apps like Styledotme, Stylecracker, etc., that can also be counted as its indirect competitors.
WithMe recently raised $250,000 (around INR 1.7 crore) in angel funding from a group of investors comprising Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of CondeNast India; Pradeep Guha, former head of Zee Group and BCCL; Saket Dhankar, head of Lakme Fashion Week and serial entrepreneur and investor Rajan Pandhare.
A team of 14 people team spread across Gurgaon & Mumbai,WithMe has also launched its chat-based StyleBot. A combination of artificial and social intelligence, StyleBot is a virtual style assist system which allows any user on Facebook or on Facebook Messenger to interact with it in real time messaging. One can upload pictures and the bot helps you make your shopping and dressing decisions.
According to a Google India research, every third shopping search on the world’s largest search engine is fashion related and the queries in the category are growing at 66% year-on-year. The number of online shoppers in India is set to grow from 40 million now to 100 million by the end of 2016 and 250 million by 2020. By 2018, the country is set to witness 500 million Internet users, whereas 280 million smartphone users could be the key drivers for ecommerce portals, pointing out to the huge opportunities for fashion based startups like WithMe.
With users being flooded with thousands of options, making the right decision will be like finding a needle in a haystack. In times like these, a startup like WithMe may prove to be a saviour. But it remains to be seen how does WithMe face the burgeoning competition.