Rivir shoe designs are inspired by the various facets of life, subjects of interest, ideas and inspiration, fables and fantasies. They believe that the shoe designs can be a lot more expressive than making just “statements”.
We are publishing an interview with Ms. Ankeeta Deb, Co-Founder and CEO:
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: Rivir, is born out of my passion to paint on shoes, which started off back in my school days. My class teacher saw my innate quality to sell my talents and as a test, gave me INR 500 to go buy Bata PT shoes, and make some designs as a prototype.
I got orders pouring in, all my weekends were booked and I realized that this was not just a hobby. This passion grew over the years, and turned into fruition when I met Viresh during my MBA in MICA.
A little over 3 years back, Viresh and I founded a brand that fills the need gap of quirky and unique footwear. After 3 years of vehement market study, we launched our current working model, last year.
Viresh’s core competency is smooth operations, logistics and people management. Whereas I look into designs, business development and marketing, giving us the perfect synergy to grow the business in the best well oiled fashion.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: There are not a single brand in the market that gives the customer the opportunity to wear their choice of designs on their feet. Surprisingly, our primary audience has been men, who are not only more experimental, they love the simplicity and ease of purchase on our website. Today, women are kicking off their heels and looking for more comfortable options, and we as a brand want to be able to be available to them to be the option they sought after.
We give customers the option to custom design their footwear as well, choose their laces, and the print that they like, and the responses have been phenomenal!
We have more! We truly believe that in our little ways we can make a large impact in the society. And big brands should and are moving towards social enterprises, instead of being totally capitalist. Today we support 5 villages in Maharashtra become self-sufficient with our artist hunt programs, with a percentage royalty deal with NGOs associated with them. These banjara children now have schools, sanitation and health supplements, that brings us a step closer to a healthier future generation!
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: Well, I have been a sneakerhead my whole life. I love shoes that are unique and exclusive. But, footwear has been a mass market, thousands of blues and blacks are crowded in the market, from big brands to the local ones. I knew there was a market when I saw people flocking to my hand painted shoes Facebook page. I wanted to blow this up to a brand and make the next Converse in India, that lets customers be spoilt for choice.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Rivir gives a product that slides right where there is a definite need gap. There are casual footwear in the market, yet, but a category where there are designer footwear that stands out? None! When it comes to casual shoes, you would find, blues and blacks or maybe white ones too, but prints, designs, glitter, none of these are available in the market. Today’s audience needs something that is unique, something that has not been worn, to be the talk of the town or realistically, maybe their office or the next party. We give them exactly that. Comfort with quirky elements, rolled into one! Moreover, we are making an impact little by little, in building a better India. We have started our ties with NGOs who work with children, where we convert their artwork into designs on our footwear. We in turn help these NGOs with a portion of our sales in building schools and sanitation facilities.
We have a wide range of footwear including the glitter and glamour. Even brides are kicking off their heels and choosing our products for their special day. What more can a footwear brand ask for!
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Our unique selling propositions are designs, which are absolutely unique, quality, which is the best in the market and customer service. We have a flawless service and a 24 hour turnaround time. We offer customization, with the same TAT and we have customers queuing up to get their very own unique pair of shoes!
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Ans: We started back in 2015, when we began selling pre-made shoes on our website. But as soon as we began we understood that limited number of designs take time to move and customers would like to be spoilt for choice. The millennial are looking for the best quality and super-fast service. We kept striving for doing better and we have a product today that customer love and flaunt.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: The biggest failure has by far been shortsighted on a problem. Getting myopic with a problem and considering it to be the doom of the business. We have learnt to see issues in a larger scheme of things and handle it faster than worry about the same. The learning curve has been phenomenal!
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our product price range is between INR 999-INR 1999. This is the sweet spot to buy products. We have fresh designs every month, new styles every quarter and seasonal products making shoes an all year long affair!
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: We participated in ComicCon in the same month as our launch. And the response we got made our heads swirl and take a deep breath and realize the grandeur of the demand of these products.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We have zero dilution and debt on the business.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: Celebrities placing orders on our website has always been a super pleasant surprise. We have had standup comics, TV superstars, film critics and stylists order and that is when we realize the gold that we have unearthed!
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: We are creating a global brand, and we are convinced that we will make it! We have a niche and we are hell bent in broadening the category. People love the products and have gotten bored of the blues and blacks. Setting the new trend might be difficult, but it sure is authentic and makes us the only one in the market!
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Ans: We have over 5000 customers across 1 and a half years. We have touched INR 4 Million of sales last year.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: We have been in this space under this current model for the past 2 years and we have seen startups come and go. They haven’t been able to crack the code. We have had market giants come to us for making shoes for them, however we are not in the mind to get into diluting our own brand identity as yet. Our products are youthful, fun, quirky and at the same time animal friendly, comfortable and socially impacting.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans: Sure. They are:
- Ankeeta Deb: Co-Founder, CEO and Design Lead
- Viresh Madan: Co-Founder, COO and HR Lead
- Sanjay Khatik: Operations Incharge
We have freelancers and 4 full time employees working with us, for our production and designing process.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Vans, Converse, Keds. Three stalwarts who understand the youth. Their branding, packaging and brand positioning is phenomenal. And we are filling in the space of designs and customization.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: We want to go all in with Digital. We are a complete digital native and strongly believe that e-commerce is the future of shopping.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Endurance. Trying something that you believe in, relentlessly. And of course analyze your cash burn and pivot!
Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Thank you for the opportunity to share about my brand. Your support can push us out into the radar of not just investors but also customers.
Thanks Ankeeta. Best wishes!