Hailing from Dausa district in Rajasthan, Abhishek Sharma wanted to make a difference to the community around him by empowering small and medium entrepreneurs – the backbone of Indian economy. He wanted to do this by providing them with an ecosystem of complete transparency, and where the MSMEs get a chance to work with both national as well as international brands to earn more profits.
In 2019, when Abhishek and his friend Pawan Gupta took off on a road trip to Jaipur, they had the opportunity to see local life first-hand, and learnt some interesting insights about livelihoods . They were fascinated to learn about the number of women employed in Jaipur’s famous Indian ethnic apparel production units.
“In a country infamous for its low participation of women in employment, this industry was not only providing a livelihood, but also empowering them with self-respect. Since then, we have made it our mission to reimagine the fashion supply chain – so it works in favour of the artisans, the women, and the planet to make the world a better place,” says Abhishek.
With a strong desire to lead this change, Abhishek and Pawan, who are both serial entrepreneurs and IIT Delhi alumni, launched a tech-enabled agile manufacturing marketplace for fashion brands – Fashinza – in 2020.
With Fashinza, the founders are on a mission to reimagine the fashion supply chain by blending traditional artisans’ techniques with technology-induced transparency and traceability in the supply chain.
What does Fashinza solve?
Fashinza helps brands reduce inventory forecasting errors and produce goods with complete transparency and minimal effort.
“We provide end-to-end apparel manufacturing solutions to fashion brands from startups to big retailers. We help brands to find the right manufacturers and then take care of the entire production process – procuring fabrics, costing, sampling, production, quality check, and delivery. Brands do not need to invest time in any task related to production once they subscribe to our services,” says Abhishek.
It helps brands to track the entire production process with live updates about production status and direct image/ video feeds from the ground (the factory) if they demand the same – giving them access to an absolutely transparent production process.
“Fashinza allows companies to track the progress of their orders on an AI-regulated dashboard with real-time updates and in doing so, we not only secure on-time delivery, but our associate companies can remain aware of the latest developments at every hour,” mentions Abhishek.
The platform additionally provides access to extensive catalogues for all apparel categories as well as fabrics. Brands can explore hundreds of original design options before placing the order, says Abhishek.
The platform also helps brands minimise risk of unsold inventory by procuring low MoQ(Minimum Order Quantity) and have fast turnarounds.
Currently working with 250+ small and medium-sized textile manufacturers, Fashinza has also partnered with multiple lenders (NBFCs/Fintechs). These banks can help manufacturers with early payments, and the lender gets repaid either by Fashinza or the manufacturer with extended credit period.
Most of the seasoned manufacturers are from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, and they have experience in producing all categories of apparels for top global brands. The startup also claims to have 400 plus ethical partner factories across India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.
Prior to this venture, Abhishek has worked as an early and core team member with various startups like Flipkart, Limeroad, Curofy, and BharatPe as a Vice President, and has extensive experience in product and technology.
Abhishek also had an earlier stint as an entrepreneur when he started Offerbean.com, an ecommerce marketplace platform in 2011. As a product and growth consultant, he has helped many startups find product-market fit and scale.
With 10 years of product management experience in digital products in the ecommerce and fintech space, Abhishek has eventually emerged as an entrepreneurial product leader.
At Fashinza, Abhishek helps in building a robust manufacturers network, looks after the production cycle, and works towards enhancing the production transparency.
Abhishek says that he wants to build India’s biggest manufacturing hub at Jaipur using Fashinza’s platform, which will empower local manufacturers to run their businesses smoothly and make great profits at the same time.
An Electrical engineer from IIT Delhi, Pawan drives data and finance for Fashinza. He has worked as an analyst with Deutsche Bank, Mumbai for two years. He co-founded Curofy in 2014, a platform for doctors to help discuss patient cases with their peers to provide quick and better diagnosis to their patients. The company was acquired by US-based Edifecs in 2017.
Pawan is also a venture partner with First Cheque VC, and is an angel investor in FITSO, One Impression, Yulu, Gramfactory, Mudrex (YC), and others.
Pawan was also notably featured in Forbes India’s 30 under 30 in 2018, Rising Stars by Bloomberg TV, and Young Turks by CNBC.
Through Fashinza, Pawan wants to help small town women by creating employment opportunities for them. A significant percentage of artisans at Fashinza’s manufacturing partners are women, claim Fashinza’s founders. However, they do not want to disclose the percentage at this moment.
Pawan says, “We are a highly tech driven company and are building our platform through AI technology. This helps us automate supply chain management, bring more transparency and reliability, and reduce lead times.”
Brands use Fashinza’s production platform to streamline the production process with the help of seasoned manufacturers.
The platform charges a commission from suppliers/manufacturer for providing them various services including technology, finance, and efficiency improvements.
“Presently, we are working with major international and Indian brands including 50+ industry leaders such as Forever 21, Noon.com, Reliance, Spencer’s, Bewakoof.com, Clovia, Libas, Ajio, The Souled Store, and numerous others. Our plan is to continuously grow and expand the list of our clients, serving top brands and startups alike,” explains Pawan.
“With the pandemic causing worldwide lockdowns, orders worth millions of dollars were cancelled by brands, causing manufacturers to suffer huge losses. The industry is slowly trying to recover from the losses, while manufacturers are still having a hard time procuring orders,” according to Pawan.
“It’s all the more difficult for them because they have no experience with the latest technologies which could optimise their reach and sales. We’re trying to make it relatively easier for them to get back into business in the new normal by helping them to meet manufacturers through our platform, by introducing a new tech-driven approach to the otherwise traditional supply chain.”
Funding and Growth plan
In January 2021, the Gurugram-based startup raised a seed funding of $2.6 million led by Accel Partners and Elevation Capital with the participation of marquee individual investors – Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of Snapdeal, and Alok Mittal, Co-founder of Indifi.
“We believe apparel exports are a supply first market and there is infinite demand for reliable supply. Our aim is to build Indian SMEs as reliable apparel manufacturing suppliers, and strengthen them both in terms of capability and capacity. We will focus more to bring demand on strengths of India manufacturing, which is primary in value addition like handwork, embroidery as well as build new capability based upon the demand in global market e.g. active wear, athleisure wear etc,” mentions Abhishek.
Last year, the startup claims to have established its presence in over 10 countries.
“We have served brands from the USA, Canada, UK, UAE, and of course India. We work with not just the largest of the retailers, but also smaller brands who are just starting up with limited investment. Our goal is to help brands with any size and scale access manufacturing very easily,” mentions Pavan.
“We also plan to expand our manufacturing units further to Turkey, Sri Lanka, and China. Presently we are operating from Gurgaon, Jaipur, and Tirupur with the headquarter being in Gurgaon. We are set to open our office in New York pretty soon,” he says.
Fashinza considers UK-based production platform Supply Compass as its competitor. The platform claims that it has no direct competitors in India.