Building India's Most Loved Casualwear Brand

17th May 2023
Chirag Chadha, Vedang Patel

Episode Description

In this episode, Chirag Chadha (VP, Elevation Capital) speaks with Vedang Patel (Co-Founder & CEO, The Souled Store) on the journey of building The Souled Store, India’s largest fan merchandise destination and one of the most loved casualwear brands.

Founded in 2013 out of sheer passion for pop-culture, The Souled Store started with the belief that India needed a dedicated fan merchandise destination. The core insight was that the customer, back in the day, had only two extreme choices when it came to purchasing fandom-based apparel - super expensive US imports or the cheap, poor-quality fakes that were sold in unorganised retail markets. The Souled Store caught on to this missing middle and launched fan merchandise with proprietary designs, and at an affordable price, largely scaling the business through their own channels.

Over time, as the company witnessed very high retention, the team realised that the customers came to TSS, not just for designs, but also for the right quality of fabric and fit. The Souled Store, then started evolving into a casual-wear brand, and this segment now contributes to ~40% of the revenue. The company now boasts of having a registered userbase of ~5 Mn customers and an annualised net revenue run-rate of INR 300 Cr while being PAT profitable. TSS is a true D2C company, with 90%+ revenue coming from it’s own channels - web, app and offline stores.

Tune into this episode to hear Vedang sharing his thoughts on building a brand and its essential elements. Vedang also speaks about bootstrapping for the first 6 years and how that built discipline, frugality and good culture.

Episode Summary

00:20 - Introduction to The Souled Store

04:10 - Vedang’s take on the gap in the market back in 2013 and hence, the Day Zero thought process

08:20 - Top-down observations as the team looked at the opportunity in 2013

12:35 - The struggles of obtaining the first few licenses

16:00 - Managing licensors and the evolution of licensing dynamics

17:22 - Evolution of product category mix and the eventual focus on apparel

18:47 - Data-orientation in the organisation and leveraging that to build a moat

23:51 - Vedang talks about building good culture with frugality as the centrepiece

25:28 - Glimpses of data on The Souled Store’s current scale

27:15 - Defining The Souled Store’s core target audience

29:00 - What does ‘brand’ mean to Vedang and how has The Souled Store positioned itself

32:56 - Thinking through offline and deciding between own stores and large format retail

38:44 - Bootstrapping for the first 6 years, building discipline and thinking through fundraising

44:04 - What are mistakes that were avoided in the early journey

45:36 - Where Vedang sees The Souled Store in 5-10 years