This Bengaluru-based Startup Hand Curates Products From Some of India’s Best Upcoming Brands

Kalpané is Redefining Luxury and is Hand Curating Products

This Bengaluru Based Startup Hand Curates Products From Some of India’s Best Upcoming Brands

Kalpanè means Creation, Conception and Innovation. Kalpané has created a curated market place consisting of beautiful designs and unique products from some of India’s best home grown brands bought together. It was launched in August 2017. They are based out of Koramangala, Bengaluru.

This Bengaluru Based Startup Hand Curates Products From Some of India’s Best Upcoming Brands

About the founders
Nikita Sethi, Founder and Chief Creative:
Fashion Stylist with more than 10 years of experience. Over the years has been associated with large number of brands and TV shows like Tanishq, Flying Machine, Nalli, Band Baaja Bride, Hunt for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl and Ticket to Bollywood etc. as part of their creative campaigns. Has styled various celebrities like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, Amy Jackson, Milind Soman amongst others.

Karan Anand, Co-Founder: Chartered Accountant and Ex. Goldman Sachs Vice President with more than 10 years of experience. Having worked with clients in multiple sectors across the globe, he brings his immense understanding of the Indian as well as Global markets.

Mohan Neelakantan – Advisor: Former Fashion Director at Elle India. Head stylist at Lakme Fashion Week for numerous years. Fashion consultant for NDTV Goodtimes and a jury member for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl Hunt. Has been responsible for styling numerous celebrities for various red carpet events like Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor to name a few. He currently heads Styling and beauty at one of the most prestigious Fashion schools in India.

Dhruv Suri – Advisor: Dhruv is a Partner at PSA and co-heads the practice group that advises start-ups and investors, both financial and strategic, across a diverse range of sectors. With a keen interest in technology businesses, Dhruv mentors some very early stage entrepreneurs and assists them in the execution of their projects.

We are publishing an interview with Ms. Nikita Sethi, Founder & Chief Creative – Kalpané:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Kalpané is a curated marketplace of designer luxury products conceptualized and produced by some of India’s best upcoming brands. With design aesthetics at our core, we strive to provide unique products to the Indian consumers who want to experience products that are not run off the mill!! Luxury as per our philosophy lies in the consumer experience of the product. Products that are meticulously hand-crafted using age-old artisanal techniques, made in small batches, using exquisite craftsmanship qualify as luxury products. As a brand, we truly believe that there is a lot more to design in India than traditional embroideries and artefacts and our aim is to bring that to the consumer not just in India but globally. At Kalpané, we cut through all the noise as we spend tremendous amount of time in finding the designers that match our design aesthetics and showcase their collection at our platform. This helps the consumer with a hand-curated collection of products under one roof.

Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
When we moved to Bengaluru in September 2014 and were trying to do up our house, we could not find home décor products that were not run off the mill but were still contemporary. That’s when it stuck me that it will be great to create a platform to showcase upcoming Indian designers that are making interested products and offer these to the consumers.

Q.: What is your USP?
“I come from a design and fashion background, hence the curation and design aspect of Kalpané came naturally to me. The collection on our platform is hand curated and in line with my own design aesthetics.” Between myself and Mohan we have more than 40 years of styling experience. Mohan was instrumental in onboarding the first set of designers. We have selected each one of our designers after a lot of research and I can very confidently say that I stand-behind each of their products that are being showcased on Kalpané. This is something we strive to achieve even once we get bigger.

At Kalpané we scout and curate brands that match our aesthetic and design sensibilities. We even hand pick the collection that is showcased on Kalpané. We are not aiming to align to any particular product category which is quite evident from the varied categories available on Kalpané.

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Our ideal customer is someone who is looking for unique handcrafted goods that have been produced using artisanal techniques and values design. We hand curate the collection on our platform and hence, providing the experience of luxury shopping from the comfort of their couch to the customers. We are seeing some very interesting spending patterns from different cities across our platform. Even though, the cities generating highest revenues for us are the metros but we also see an increasing number of orders from Tier II, Tier III as well.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
We are still in the learning phase and discover something new each day. The idea is to learn and ensure that as a brand we come out stronger from all such scenarios. The biggest challenge so far that I have faced personally was to set up the Kalpané platform. As I don’t come from a tech background, setting up Kalpané as a sole women entrepreneur came with its own set of challenges. To overcome this challenge, we did months of research, met with numerous developers, got some ridiculous quotes, spoke to a few fellow entrepreneurs; but finally found a team who understood our vision and was able to deliver a product that I had been aiming for.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product?
We are a marketplace and hence charge a fee for every transaction that is completed on our platform.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
We launched in August 2017 and kept the initial few months as beta for friends and family for testing. So, the first few customers were friends & family and later on we started promoting our brand on various social media channels.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
We don’t have any external investors and have completely bootstrapped Kalpané internally.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
As a brand, we truly believe that there is a lot more to design in India than traditional embroideries and artefacts and our aim is to bring that to the consumer not just in India but globally.

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
We are still relatively new but have a growing customer base and have been generating revenue from the very beginning.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
There are a couple of other brands that are in a similar space but we are being extremely careful about the designers we onboard with us. We strive to offer exceptional customer service. We have a diverse team and set of advisors.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
We are aiming to grow our customer base exponentially within the next 6 months along with the total number of brands that we have onboard as well. We have just launched our own in-house brand and have a few products lined up.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
I started Kalpané and have no technical background and was still able to build and launch our platform which I am proud of. So, one piece of advice that I have for my fellow entrepreneurs is that if you have an idea and you truly believe in, you should absolutely see it through. I left a very rewarding career as a Fashion Stylist to start Kalpané and I am very proud of it.

Thanks Nikita. Best wishes.