[Startup Talk] Here is a portal for sockaholics!

Are you a sockaholic? Founded by two females, Footsy.in is India’s first and only e-commerce platform for socks! Yes! We took interview of Pooja Mehta, one of the founders, to understand their startup. Have a look at our conversation with Pooja in today’s Startup Talk column.

What is Footsy.in? What’s the idea and concept behind your startup?

Footsy.inFootsy.in is India’s first and only e-commerce platform focusing on socks! Yes socks! We are a young, playful brand that focuses on socks and related products like legwarmers, woolen handmade snugglers and booties.  We retail our own brand Footsy along with various Indian and International Brands, some of which are exclusively sold in India only through Footsy.

Socks are a much-neglected accessory in India, considered almost like an undergarment. We’re elevating the status of a sock from a mundane necessity to a full-fledged fashion statement.

Who are faces behind this startup?

Pooja Mehta, 28, Co-founder Footsy, is a Post Graduate in Design Management from Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad. Apart from Footsy, Pooja consults as a Design Manager at various design houses in India. Pooja has spent over seven years bridging the interesting gap between business and design.

Seema Seth, 34, Co-founder Footsy, is a Communication Design graduate from Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology (Bangalore). She’s worked with some of India’s best design firms, before she started her own design consultancy, Studio Sky. Seema has spent over ten years designing and building brands for various organizations.

Both the founders’ wear multiple hats and play multiple roles at Footsy.

Footsy Founders- Pooja Mehta and Seema Seth
Footsy Founders- Pooja Mehta and Seema Seth

How did you initiate Footsy.in? What is the story behind starting up Footsy?

Both Seema and me were toying with the idea of starting a venture that fueled our creative juices. Together, we make a great team. I had a natural inclination towards business, and Seema towards design. It seemed like the perfect balance. The idea of Footsy had a very spontaneous birth, but the possibilities seemed huge right from the start.

People really put an effort into their wardrobe nowadays. Every accessory is well-chosen and enhances your overall appearance. We found that socks were a very neglected accessory in India. They came in boring browns, blacks and whites. A smart coloured sock, or an elegant argyle patterned sock can transform even a boring business suit. A hint of colour goes a long way. We noticed a gap in the Indian market when it came to smart socks, and therefore realized that it was the right time to launch Footsy.

Why did you name it Footsy?

Footsy is flirtatious, playful and memorable. We wanted a brand name that is a true reflection of our ideology. We want people to have fun, express themselves and play a little! (Incidentally, ‘play a little’ is also our tagline)

How Footsy.in is different than other e-commerce shops? What is unique about Footsy?

Sunshine Ruffle
Sunshine Ruffle

Apart from the fact that Footsy is an exclusive socks e-commerce website, Footsy is very carefully curated. With every product we add, we stay true to our philosophy ‘play a little.’ We started with the idea of elevating socks to a fashion accessory (as opposed to being treated like an ‘undergarment’). We want our products to add a spring to your step.

Besides that, we try and keep our service as warm and personal as possible. We send out a hand-written ‘thank you’ note to most of our customers. We reply to emails and messages within hours. We’re trying to do everything possible to keep things up-tempo and efficient.

How much time and money did you invest in this venture?

We officially launched Footsy.in in February 2012, but spent almost 8 months pre-launch working behind the scenes to make sure we had a really strong brand.

In these 8 months, we brainstormed and strengthened the core idea, met manufacturers, spoke to international brands, got the company registered, built our ecommerce site, researched, stayed up several nights, sampled our socks, understood nitty-gritties about material, production techniques, dying techniques – it was a lot of work, considering both of us are not from the textile or accessory industry. We taught ourselves everything, with a lot of help from our friends and external partners. We’re still learning.

As far as investments are concerned, all we can say at this point is that we’re totally self-funded.

How many retaining customers are you having?

We focus a lot on quality and communication. Most customers who have bought from us come back for more and spread the word about us. We also have a few loyalists and sockaholics who have purchased almost every new design that we have ever introduced.

Which challenges have you faced while converting your idea into reality?

Any new idea always shows resistance. Be it finding the right manufacturers who were ready to create these products we had envisioned or finding a good logistics partner was a challenge.

Having said that, changing people’s perceptions towards ‘socks’ had been one of our biggest challenges. Thankfully we have seen a huge shift in people’s perception and behavior towards colourful socks in the last 2 years and we a proud to be a part of causing this shift. Even manufacturers who initially refused to design ‘out of the normal’ socks for us, are now experimenting into colours and styles they never dared doing so before.

What is the major challenge you face right now?

Penetration. Reaching out to customers beyond the metros.

What’s your future plan?

India is a country of more than a billion feet, and Footsy aims to put their socks on each and every set of feet! As the company’s favourite line goes, “Have feet? Wear socks!”

While we are currently focusing on making our online catalog comprehensive and introducing patterns and styles that customers haven’t seen before, we would also in the next few years would like to have exclusive Footsy Sock stores across the country.

Footsy Facts

1000+ SKU’s of socks
COD consists of 30% of the total sales
Men to women customers ration is 35:65
Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi are our top cities
Observation – Pinks are not only for women, and blue isn’t only for men either.
Sales peak in the months of October- Jan. The start of school year and summer holidays are great too.
Increasingly we are seeing orders from North East and other regions of Maharashtra apart from Mumbai.
There is no divide between girly and boyish colours any longer. Everybody wants something bright, vibrant and colourful.

What is Entrepreneurship according to you?

Entrepreneurship is about doing something that you believe in and are truly proud of.

As Sir Richard Brandson rightly puts it “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, So that you can do more of it and move forward with it.

Which message would you like to give to upcoming entrepreneurs?

Most people are daunted by the thought of investments, business plans, and the ‘correct’ way to start a business. But really, you just need one big idea. If you believe in something, just go for it. There is no right or wrong way to start your business. Believe in yourself and follow your gut. Once you begin, everything falls into place. As an entrepreneur, your learning curve will be huge. Moreover, the joys of running your own business our priceless! Nothing can beat the feeling when people appreciate what you’ve done, and believe in your dream as much as you do. It’s a very positive feeling.

What do you think about BuddyBits.com?

BuddyBits.com has something for everyone. News, inspiration, entertainment, tips, advice and more. It has the potential of becoming really big and popular.

Startup Talk - Every Monday on BuddyBits.com.
Startup Talk is a weekly column featuring interview with entrepreneurs and their success stories. Column is being published on BuddyBits.com every Monday. Follow www.buddybits.com to read more articles from this column.