An Interview Session with The Souled Store’s Founders
- July 3, 2017
- Posted by: Aditi Khinda
- Category: Digitalks by Digiperform
The Souled Store is an online store founded by three dynamic personalities; Aditya Sharma, Vedang Patel, and Rohin Samtaney, that provides independent artists a platform to showcase and monetize their creativity. The Souled Store is a community of like-minded people getting together and expressing them through work. In a short span of time, it has managed to provide a wide range of products which include t-shirts, boxer shorts, tote bags, backpacks, wall art, notebooks, mugs, coasters, badges, and stickers.
They are continuously experimenting and have much more products in the pipeline. They also have acquired the official licenses of DC Comics, Marvel, Star Wars, WWE, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and The Big Bang Theory and manufacture and sell their merchandise in India. A separate bulk and corporate division in charge of tying up with companies, organizations, music bands, sports franchises, etc. and handle their online and offline merchandising requirements. They also offer design services. As a young, fun, and vibrant brand, they’ve also started a pan India marketing internship program where they hire enthusiastic college students with a flair for marketing and business development.
Q1- What is the secret behind the name “The Souled Store”? Please the share the moment how The Souled Store was born?
The Souled Store was born on June 7, 2013, to Aditya, Vedang, and Rohin (ex-colleagues, friends, brothers from other mothers) over Sev-Puri at their office canteen. The intention was to create a one-stop destination for all fan and quirky merchandise. The idea arose when we realized that there was no good outlet/website for buying fan merchandise in India. The only options were a limited range of extremely expensive and badly designed imports from the US (which ironically were made in India) or sub-quality fakes. Being true nerds who loved TV shows, comics, and everything pop culture, we knew that this could be done better and at affordable prices.
We started out of random coffee shops in Bandra, with free wifi (because no business can start without wifi). We launched the website with t-shirts, badges, and wall art and now have more than 11+ products on the website.
The short answer to the birth of the name is that it makes for a great pun on ‘sold’ since we ‘sell stuff’. Smart, right? But the longer, deeper answer is that The Souled Store is all about doing the things that you love right from the bottom of your soul which is exactly how and why it was started in the first place.
Q2- The Souled Store is the maker of incredibly cool pop culture merchandise designed by artists all over the world. How you came up with such a creative idea. What is the inspiration behind it?
All of us (founders) have had some inclination towards their respective passions. Unfortunately, designers and illustrators did not have enough of an opportunity to showcase and monetize their work back then (even now to some extent). So we decided to launch an artist platform for artists to showcase their talent to the world. Artists can submit designs (https://www.thesouledstore.com/design-submit) from our website in less than a minute. We work on a royalty model with all artists where the IP of the designs still lies with the artist with complete freedom to sell it on other websites as well.
Social media is one of TSS’s biggest strengths. It is done in sync with our product development and digital marketing team to ensure best results. Our focus is to engage our audience more than getting likes on posts. We have multiple series that we run on our social media accounts (a few eg. below)
Contests & Meet & Greets –
Q4- You have recently collaborated with the very famous standup Comedian Kenny Sebastian. He has been promoting your stuff on his shows. Why only Kenny and what was the motto behind it?
Yes, we have collaborated with Kenny and a lot of other comedians for their merchandise. We are exclusive official merchandising partners for AIB, Pretentious Movie Reviews, Kanan Gill, Biswa, Zakir Khan, Varun Thakur, Daniel Fernandes, SnG Comedy and more.
Kenny’s collaboration was special for the both of us since all the proceeds were going to charity. His marketing efforts along with our designs and social media helped us raise more than a few lakhs for the cause 🙂
Here is the special bday wish by AIB-Tanmay Bhatt and fans for turning 4 years old – The Souled Store…..
Q5- What role does Digital Marketing play in the success of “The Souled Store”?
Digital marketing is one the biggest driver of sales for TSS. Our design and digital marketing team come up with a wide array of advertisements for our social media channels based on analytics from previous data. Most of our marketing spend is digital, mainly Facebook and Instagram.
Q6- You have come up with so many categories in merchandise. Which one is your favorite and why?
We have about 11 products on the website currently and are in the process of adding a few this quarter. One of the latest additions has been printed backpacks – A lot of R&D has gone into getting the right product for our customers and we are currently one of the very few websites in India selling printed designer backpacks.
A lot of R&D has gone into getting the right product for our customers and we are currently one of the very few websites in India selling printed designer backpacks.
Q7- It is one of the startups which has got a huge response. What suggestion would like to give our young entrepreneurs to follow who are looking to start their new venture? (Also, Your culture)
We’re a bunch of action-figure loving, poor joke cracking, committed, but largely super-fun people. We love what we do. We believe that the secret to The Souled Store’s success is our humble beginning. At least one co-founder has spent time doing every job there was to do in the company. Not just the fancy managerial duties, but also simple tasks, like cleaning, packing, counting inventory, customer calls and other on ground stuff. This allowed them to know the problems and difficulties for even the smallest of tasks and was able to better and make it more efficient than done otherwise. We make sure that the culture and vibe at The Souled Store are young and fun. We believe that if you love what you do and look forward to coming into work each day with plans for world domination, half the battle is already won.
You walk into our office and you’ll instantly see that this isn’t a regular, boring corporate workplace. There are fun post-it’s all over the place so you can have a laugh even while entering the loo, there is a wall dedicated to action figures that we’ve collected over 4 years, and you’ll see some awesome artwork pinned up by our super-talented team of designers. We realize that people spend more than half of their day at work and us to keep people engaged, productive, and happy. We’re always doing fun activities at work from board game sessions, to intense counter-strike tournaments, movies screenings, and when Game of Thrones is on, Monday evening screenings are the best time of the week.
I wouldn’t want to call it advice, but I would like to mention a few things from my experience:
- The right time is now – Do not wait for the “right moment”. You are the youngest you will ever be and the oldest you have ever been in this moment. Sit down with your ideas, brainstorm, make a business plan, take feedback, do a detailed analysis of your idea and dive into it.
- Never settle – Every successful entrepreneur was once impractical. Do not settle for anything less than what you dream to achieve.
Q8- What are the major challenges you face as Co-Founder of the company?
We had a lot of challenges in the first year of starting up. We were new to the business and everything associated with it (manufacturing, haggling with clients for payments etc.) Unprofessionalism from manufacturers and clients was something that was very new to us. But like every other entrepreneur, we figured things on the go.
Q9- Please share your upcoming projects with your followers. What are your future goals?
We plan to make The Souled Store a global brand for pop culture enthusiasts. We want to be a one-stop destination for all quirky and merchandising needs, ranging from generic wit to superheroes, TV Shows, Sports, Music and anything and everything that you’re a fan of. Our growth strategy is twofold. First is to increase our range of products and offer more to our current customer base. Second would be to diversify our TG by introducing more women-centric products. Our eventual plan is to also transcend into kids wear as it would be a direct extension of everything we do currently.
Socks: We plan to launch our unique collection of socks in about two months. With designs ranging from quirky patterns to harry potter prints, we plan to shake things up in the Indian socks industry.
Boxer Collection: After a successful soft launch of our boxer collection, we have doubled down on loungewear and are coming up with over 100 patterns for the youth to flaunt their inner creativeness. We also plan to go offline with our own pop-up stores and some flagship retail stores that will revolve around creating experiences for our customers which will be integrated with the merchandise we sell. We want to change the game with how retail is traditionally done which currently is just about selling the product, we want to sell an experience. For example, if you’re a Harry Potter fan and you walk into our stores, you’ll find a station where you can learn how to make Butterbeer, or learn how to wield a wand. Or if you’re a fan of WWE, you can come play a game of trump cards with fellow fans.
Thanks a lot for sharing your valuable journey with us. You guys have been an inspiration to our youngsters. We wish you a Best of Luck for your upcoming ventures & Happy Belated Bday – The Souled Store.