For an extremely simple concept — keeping you warm and dry — jackets have evolved as complicated and expensive products over the time. And one complaint, people often have, and which incredibly enough even the big names in the fashion industry haven’t been able to address, is the lack of pockets and features that a jacket can offer.
One Bengaluru-based startup, however, is leading the change.
Started by engineer turned entrepreneur Saneen Javali in 2016, Versatyl has in less than a year, created three unique jackets that have made its mark in the world of apparels, has raised over Rs. 60 lakhs in investment through crowdfunding, and built its capacity to an international standard and found a market for its products across India and beyond.
The story of Versatyl began in the year 2011 when Saneen was working as an engineer at IBM. Like many engineers of his generation, Saneen wanted to start his own company and was deliberating on ideas, that could be turned into a successful business venture.
The opportunity came around when an acquaintance of his close friend, spoke to him about starting an apparel company. Although there was a strong opposition in his family and he knew next to nothing about the industry, Saneen wanted to give it a try.
“The thought of me quitting a comfortable job in IBM, and starting an apparel company, was not something that was digestible to my family,” says Saneen, who eventually convinced them, and with a small investment of Rs. 2 lakh took the entrepreneurial plunge and started Emirates Fashions Private Limited, which is the parent company of brand Versatyl.
In the beginning, the company made clothes for other companies, including jackets for big brands like Flying Machine and Ruggers, and as a registered vendor of Tata Advanced materials Ltd, the company also made bulletproof outers for the Indian Police.
It was while making jackets for others, that Saneen came up with the idea of a multi-utility jacket.
“My dream was to always have my own brand, and when I realized that there was a dearth of multi-utility jackets in the market at an affordable price, I decided to design my own in 2016,” says Saneen.
The first jacket Saneen designed was an all-in-one 18 pocket travel jacket with 29 features. The jacket was made out of wrinkle-free and water-resistant material and could be easily folded to fit in a satchel, which came with the jacket. He built in some amazing features like Pocket for Ipad or tab, two napoleon chest pockets, earphone loops, mini torch holder, portable charger pouch, Microfibre cloth to wipe sunglasses, Reflectors, retractable gloves, side vent and compact camera pouch to name a few.
When he showed the first prototype of the product to friends and family members, he got great reviews. “Everybody liked it, but I knew that, if I wanted to release the product in the market, I needed huge investments”.
That’s when he turned to crowdfunding for help.
For the uninitiated, crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, (friends, family, customers, individual investors etc.), typically via the Internet. Many startups and entrepreneurs across the world, are today funding their projects through crowdfunding, and Saneen got in touch with Fueladream.com, an Indian crowdfunding platform to launch his project.
What happened next took the young entrepreneur and his team by surprise. The crowdfunding campaign went viral in no time and raised more than Rs 10 lakh, exceeding its goal of Rs 5 lakh with 25 days still left for the campaign to end. Orders started pouring in from not just India, but also from abroad.
“I knew crowdfunding would work for us, but the response we got, was not something we had in our wildest imagination,” says Saneen. Crowdfunding was a game changer for him, which helped him build a brand and go to the market easily.
Since then, Saneen has designed two more jackets. One is a 100% Waterproof Bomber Jacket with 20 Pockets and 32 Features. The jacket not only allows you to carry your world with you, it also folds into its own pouch with a drawstring closure. Versatyl’s third jacket is called “FEATHER”: World’s lightest Multi Utility Jacket” which weighs just 179 gms, making it the world’s lightest jacket. And Saneen is in the process of launching his fourth invention, which will be the World’s first multi-utility jacket with air conditioning.
Saneen says companies should be innovative to stay relevant and gives all the credit to his hard work, experimental thinking, and blessings from above.