Two IIT Delhi graduates have tapped a new interest among millennials — designing and owning customised sneakers.
Ashish Prakash and Aayush Jindal floated a startup in September 2019, called Toesmith, that allows prospective buyers to customise different parts of the shoe as well as upload their own design through a website.
At present, the company is getting around 40 orders a day and is doing a business of around Rs 25 lakh a month.
The owners are in discussion with prospective investors for their next round of funding as they look to achieve around 100 orders a day.
The duo had earlier launched an online pharmacy caller Aermed and ran it for around a year-and-a-half.
But the start-up venture needed funds which were not coming.
“We had raised a venture round... but could not raise a series A round. It was capital intensive and we had to ramp down the operation,” said Jindal, who then moved to the 25-year-old family shoewear business under the Asian brand name.
“We used to discuss the possibility of customising footwear and make it according to the wearer’s choice and deliver them within a small timeline and at an affordable price,” he said.
It was a birthday gift that Prakash received that finally set the ball rolling. “So, it was his birthday and I got one customised pair of shoes made for him to make him understand the concept. When our friends saw the product, they also agreed that people would like to try them,” said Jindal.
“Once I got the shoe, I realised that the idea is worth trying. Then we started doing our market research and identify what could be the hurdles,” said Prakash.
According to the duo, a market survey of almost 200 people showed that individuals, especially young buyers in tier-1 cities, were looking to buy customised shoes.
“We have seen Pink Floyd fans coming to our website, we have seen people trying to customise shoes around superheroes and everyone wants to try their own creativity which is the whole idea,” said Jindal.
The founders have put in Rs 10 lakh of their own savings into the company. But with rising interest, they have initiated discussions on funding in order to scale up.
“We started the business in September last year and now we are doing around 40 orders every day. The goal is to reach around 100 orders a day and grow at 20-30 per cent month on month,” said Jindal adding the duo has been in touch with a few early stage and series A investors.
“Everyone has a different outlook. We need to reach a scale to have a solid proof of concept,” he said.
Prakash said the company was focussing on social media as a marketing platform and was also looking to develop referral channels and supply chains to grow the business.