Prabhkiran Singh and Siddharth Munot started Bewakoof out of their college dormitory in 2012. Today, it is one of India’s top-selling lifestyle brands. Within ten years of its inception, the brand has sold 1 crore+ products and built a loyal fan base of 50 lakh+ across social platforms. How did they scale up their business so well? Let’s dive deep into Bewakoof’s success story in this episode of #BootstrappedHeroes.
A Brief History
Prabhkiran and Siddharth dreamed of starting a trendy, quirky t-shirt brand that would appeal to the youth. They were studying civil engineering in IIT Bombay and managed to pool Rs. 30,000 for the initial investment. They wanted their brand name to be unique and memorable. Bewakoof, a Hindi word that means foolish, appealed to them. It resonated with the youth of India and seemed perfect for a new-age, hatke brand looking to disrupt the D2C industry.
How It Started
Right from the beginning, they wanted to build a digitally native brand and started selling on their website. To market their products, they relied mainly on Facebook and JustDial in the initial days. Since their target audience was college-goers, they also hosted college campaigns in which they asked students to spread ‘Bewakoofy’ in the college in exchange for free t-shirts.
Their efforts started paying off. They had built a substantial base of 75,000+ Facebook followers within just a few months. Their relatable, colloquial quotes, Bollywood-inspired dialogues, and memes were getting a lot of love from millennials. Slowly and steadily, they expanded their product catalog to include merchandise and accessories. They also tied up with e-marketplace giants such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal. They also became the exclusive merchandise partners for Yashraj, T-Series, Viacom18, Zee TV, Excel Entertainment, etc.
Today, Bewakoof has 30+ categories of products. These include t-shirts, notebooks, mobile covers, flip-flops, socks, bags, movie merchandise, and much more. They clock monthly sales of over 1 lakh products and have over 1 crore monthly active users. They closed FY19-20 with a revenue of Rs. 210 core, a 27% increase compared to FY18-19. The brand expects to cross the 1,000-crore revenue mark by FY23-24.
So, what can we learn from their journey?
1) Stay hungry, stay bewakoof
“Log kya kahenge?” kills more dreams than anything else. Dare to be different. If you want to build something huge and carve your niche, no idea is outlandish.
2) Bootstrapping for the win
It’s perfectly okay to start small and stay bootstrapped. Bewakoof did this. They remained bootstrapped for a long part of their journey and were able to build a healthy business using their own revenues.
For new-age businesses such as Bewakoof, traditional models like equity and debt financing have several drawbacks. While venture capital funds demand a significant share in equity, banks require collaterals, personal guarantees and look for multiple years of profitability. These are expensive trade-offs to fund growth. Revenue-based financing offers such businesses the option to tap into their future revenues today. You can read about it here.
3) Keep your digital eyes and ears open
If you go through Bewakoof’s website, you will see that they innovate daily. They are constantly adding new designs, products, and categories to their suite. How do they do this? By leveraging technology and data. Everything from marketing to supply chain is tech- and data-backed.
They use machine learning models to optimize their marketing campaigns and improve their customer acquisition cost (CAC). They have in-house teams to manage everything from production to warehousing. To stay on top of their game, they use 60+ tech-enabled applications and services. Social media also plays a stellar role in their success. Online listening enables them to identify raging trends, best-sellers, bottlenecks, and more.
Our point being, let data and tech pave the way forward. Data can help you not only decode customer behaviour but also predict future trends and responses.
4) Broaden your reach
Though Bewakoof started marketing on Facebook and JustDial, they expanded their presence to e-marketplaces and secured partnerships. Recently, they even started selling via WhatsApp, a move that was well-received by customers. The brand now acquires approximately 15% of its total sales through the messaging platform. It has also brought down the turnaround time for solving customer queries.
If your customers are present across platforms, it only makes sense for you to be present on those platforms, too. Apart from online marketplaces, instant messaging apps could be a great option to explore. If customer-centricity is your objective, these apps can help you receive feedback and address queries promptly. Being a ping away from your customers can help you build a friendly relationship with them. It can help you get repeat customers.
5) Build for your audience
It’s crucial to understand your target audience and build for them. Bewakoof excels at this. They give Gen Z and millennials what they want – humour and their favourite characters on products that they can flaunt.
So, give your customers what they want. It’s good practice to engage with them regularly, encourage feedback and honest reviews. It will help you understand their expectations better.
We hope you found this article interesting. Which other companies would you like us to feature in our #BootstrappedHeroes series? Drop a comment and we’ll be happy to feature them.
Velocity provides non-dilutive revenue-based funds of up to Rs. 3 crore to online Indian businesses. We currently cater to direct-to-consumer (D2C) and e-commerce brands. To grow your business with us, apply now and get funded within 7 days.