The Souled Store: A Journey From Hopping Coffee Shops for Free Wi-Fi to Official Merchandisers for Big-budget Movies
The Souled Store is a brainchild of the trio Aditya Sharma, Vedang Patel, and Rohin Samtaney, who are ex-colleagues and friends. The idea was born in 2013, with an intention to create a one-stop shop for all fan and quirky merchandise.
The engineer trio, being true nerds who loved TV shows, comics, and everything pop culture, they realized that there wasn’t any outlet for buying quality merchandise for fans in the country. What was available then was a limited range of expensive and badly designed imported products or the sub-quality fakes. To bring quality products at affordable prices to fans like them, they started ideating for a solution.
The journey from hopping coffee shops for free Wi-Fi to Official Merchandisers for big-budget movies
The passionate founders started their dream project using the free wifi of various coffee shops in Bandra and a cupboard full of plain white T-shirts. Having braved all the odds, the company in a short span of just 5 years has achieved a monthly sale of around Rs. 3.5 crores, selling more than 75,000 products per month. Bootstrapped with a total capital of 5.25 lakh, The Souled Store has recently raised a funding of $3 million. The funding round was led by RP-SG Ventures which is backed by the Sanjiv Goenka Group.
The company is currently the official merchandisers for big-budget movies (Marvel, Batman, Superman, The Justice League, Infinity War, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Zero, Veere Di Wedding, etc.), Cartoons (Cartoon Network, Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, Flintstones etc.), TV Shows (Friends, The Big Bang Theory, South Park etc.), WWE, IPL teams like Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, and Kings XI Punjab, Kabaddi Franchises, Football Teams, and many more.
Having already captured a large segment of the fan merchandise market, The Souled Store has many more contracts in the pipeline that can be serviced today and are rolling out new properties on weekly basis. The company also sells merchandise for India’s youth icons. Comedians like Kenny Sebastian, EIC, SNG, Kanan Gill, Biswa, musicians like Nucleya and various festivals like the NH7 Weekender, Bollywood Music project, it has them all covered.
How customization has changed the fashion game?
The co-founders say, “In an era where a customer’s journey is fragmented across various channels, customization is the key to stay relevant in the ever-evolving fashion industry. But this customization should not be confined to just personalize products; it should rather extend to personalization of the entire shopping experience for an individual buyer. Offering an innovative blend of fashion and individuality gives present-day customers a happy feeling that the product they own is unique and custom-made for them.”
They add, “Customization is certainly a trend which is here to stay and mature with time. It is a way through which businesses can create a deeper connection with the consumers. The one-of-a-kind products seem like a no brainer since they have lower return rates and can fetch higher prices.”
Long-term Franchise Vision
They describe their long-term franchise business as: “Being in the nascent stage of business, “The Souled Store” is not currently ready for a franchise model yet. But once we establish a strong proof of our concept and successfully set-up a few in-house retail stores, we envision franchising as the next go-to model for the company in future.”