Voonik – The First Ever Personal Styling App In India!
Started in 2013 and based in Bangalore, Voonik is an online personal stylist helping users handpick fashion apparel, and also the fastest growing fashion shopping app in India.
Voonik not only focuses on listing shopping products for women, but also focuses on their style preferences too.
‘Voonik’ is a play on the word ‘Unique’ and they chose this name because, they wanted a neutral name that did not have any association.
Some of their offerings include: – Indian wear, western wear, lingerie & sleepwear, footwear, bags, accessories, jewellery, beauty, special, etc…
How It Works…
- Sign up with Voonik.com
- You’ll be asked a few quick questions to understand a number of factors about you, like body type, skin tone, height, etc.
- Then choose the kind of events that you frequently visit, such as – Casual Social Event, Casual Business, Formal Business Meeting, Sports, Traditional Indian, Religious, Western and many more, to provide you with even more accurate recommendations!
- Based on your responses, the app offers you an instant personalised style recommendations from stylists for various occasions such as –what will suit you, how to wear them, and what to pair them with, etc…
- Then there’s also the option of asking their in-house style experts on clothing and fashion tips.
Their business model is very simply to understand – using the power of their technology i.e. machine-based predictions (personalization-on-steroids platform) and the power of expert curation, they are trying to solve a timeless problem: “What should I wear today?”, by imagining how shopping would take place after 20 years.
To take care of the curation part – they use a very light weight business model, and don’t carry inventory or handle deliveries, instead, Voonik gathers about 15 Lakh different products from different merchants, display’s it on their site, and their job is to make sure that each user sees the products she is most likely to buy.
Thus, luring women to see and buy a product which could have potentially gone unnoticed on other marketplaces. Indeed, brilliant!
Voonik has broken away from the conventional eCommerce business model and has built a proprietary stylist tool that guides the stylists to create the right recommendation for the right users.
They have developed their own pairing algorithm for each of their items, and takes periodic input from stylists to improve itself. So for instance, when you look for Formal Pants, based on the occasion, their algorithm automatically recommends you the kinds of shirts, shoes, ties, etc., that should be paired with it.
Additionally, they also have a styling programme on-board to teach the new stylists the art of styling.
The products are delivered by the vendors at any place across India, and strict controls and processes are adhered to ensure timely delivery.
What Are Their Strategies, Market Segment & Revenue Model?
To begin with – the market segment of Voonik mainly includes women aged between 18 -30, and therefore, focuses at keeping their attires and outfits simple yet trendy. And to capture this market, Voonik uses some of the most simple, yet interesting strategies.
Differentiating itself from the present eCommerce clutter, and going against the trend; Voonik has brilliantly positioned themselves as an online personal stylist that provides personalised styling and personal shopping, and not an apparel store!
On the backend, they are a data driven company that has changed according to the changing times and demands successfully. For instance, they had first launched the services to both men and women, but when their data analysis prompted that women were reacting way better to their value proposition, they immediately dropped the men’s segment.
Additionally, what is even more interesting about their strategy is that, when the whole world is going the ‘App’ direction, have gone on from being an App-only company, to launching their desktop site as well. Their intention is to make sure that none of their customers go back dissatisfied.
At this point, Voonik gets more than 90% of sales from the app, while only 10% comes from their desktop site.
Other than that, they have also introduced an ‘image search’ feature, making them the third company in India to do so. Using this feature, company’s entire catalogue can be searched using images instead of textual inputs. Thus, giving all the more reasons for customers to come to them!
MARKETING à More recently, in the beginning of 2016 – Voonik also launched their first Television commercial that featured Bollywood director Farah Khan. It was conceptualised by Mullen Lintas, and was produced by Jamic Films with Nikhil Rao as the director.
They also launched a digital campaign along with a hash tag “#HarDinFashionKaro”.
Voonik has also announced the appointment of Lodestar UM (a part of IPG Mediabrands India), to handle its media mandate.
Lastly, talking about their revenue model – Voonik charges a commission of somewhere around 15% on every sale, and about 80% of their transactions are carried out through the cash on delivery model.
Who Are The Founders?
Voonik was founded by Sujayath Ali and Navaneetha Krishnan, who together manage a strong team of people who belong to highly credible institutions including Indian School of Business, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras Institute of Technology, and Image Consulting Business Institute.
To give you a gist about the founders: -
- Navaneetha Krishnan – CTO
Navaneetha comes with a 12+ years of start-up development experience, and just like Sujayath, he too has completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Engineering from Mepco Schlenk Engineering College as well.
Soon after completing his education, he began his career with Zoho Corporation as a Lead Developer in June 2001, and went on to work with them for more than 7 years.
This was followed by a 1.3 years of stint with Narus Networks as a Tech-Lead, and a 2 year stint with Aryaka Networks as a Technical Architect.
In October 2011, he joined Freshdesk as a Principal Developer, after which he went on to cofound Voonik.com along with his old friend.
Sujayath Ali is the Co-Founder and CEO of Voonik.
In his whole career, he has been well-known for being a star achiever, and has brought about various turning points in the projects that he has worked on as well.
He is an MBA in Technology and Finance from the Indian School of Business, and also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Engineering from Mepco Schlenk Engineering College as well.
He started his career with iNautix Technologies as a Senior Software Development Engineer in September 2001 and worked with them for almost 3 years, post which, he moved to Amazon.com as a Product Manager in 2005. While at it, he also got promoted to a Senior Product Manager and moved to Greater Seattle Area as well.
After giving a total of almost 6 years of his professional life to Amazon, he took a leap to join Visa in October 2011 as a Sr. Business Leader / VP in San Francisco.
And finally after 1.3 years, he along with his cofounder moved to India, and started Voonik.
What Is Their Story? How Has Their Growth Been So Far?
Just like most successful start-ups Voonik too was a personal pain-point for Sujayath. His wife never approved his way of dressing and he personally didn’t know which clothes would suit him as well.
He even tried moving to premium brands, tried trendy clothes, celebrity styles, etc… but nothing worked!
Other than that, during his days at Amazon, he had seen how the company had successfully democratised a purchase, and you didn’t have to be an electronic expert to buy the best gadget at Amazon. They had successfully bridged the gap between a geek and a common man for electronics.
This also made him wonder, why did one need to understand fashion just to buy clothes. Additionally, he also noticed that personal stylists served to celebrities only too!
Can’t there be help at hand?
This formed the basis for Voonik! He wanted to bridge the gap between a fashionista and a common man.
Although, not everyone was encouraging the idea, going by the dicey situation of the eCommerce market, but Sujayath strongly felt that there was a definitely problem that was left to be solved.
Nevertheless, after relevant amount of research and setting of base, Voonik was founded in March of 2013 with a desktop site, along with a personal initial investment of Rs. 40 Lakhs.
After the first few months of extreme struggle of no customers or sales, traffic began to pump up slowly; thus, eventually leading to sales.
In the month of December of that year, the founders also presented their business model at Bloomberg India’s ‘The Pitch 3.0’, and after competing against 10 other Entrepreneurs, won a whopping Rs.2.5 Crores for 30% equity deal in funding from SeedFund and Microsoft Ventures on the Final Episode.
The turning point for Voonik came in Aug 2014 when they launched their with Tinder-like interfaced Android app, and within just weeks they decided to shift their focus to being an app-only company, given the fierce competition otherwise.
And since then there has been no looking back!
In the next one year, they not only crossed 6 Million registered users with 5 Million app installs, but also surpassed their competitors Limeroad and Craftsvilla, to becoming the fastest growing and highest-rated fashion app.
By now they were doing Rs. 5.5 crores in monthly GMV and had also acqui-hired (buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff, rather than for the products or services) 6-month-old Virtual Dressing Room app – ‘TrialKart’.
They also absorbed their team into Voonik and begun working on a new division under them called ‘Image Intelligence’, to launch their Image Search feature.
Voonik now had tie-ups with the who’s-who, including Jabong, Fashionara, Zovi, Snapdeal and so many more…! They were now a one-stop-solution to all the fashion needs of customers, and they could now use the site to buy various products from different eCommerce stores, just by a single click.
This has also further increased their Product SKU’s to over 15 Lakh products from more than 6000 sellers, over 7 Million registered users with 5 Million app downloads, and they now account for close to 2 million unique visitors per month.
They are now known to have the best engagement and customer rating in the fashion industry, and claim to be doing close to 7000 transactions a day across India with 50% of orders coming from metro cities. Additionally, they are also looking forward to reaching a $100 million GMV run rate in the next 6 months as well.
Talking about their funding, other than the Rs.2.5 crores, Voonik has raised a total of $5.5 Million from Sequoia Capital, and would be using the funds to enhance their personalisation and style recommendation technology.