We’ve all been under the dilemma of what to wear on a Friday evening dinner, only to find that there is nothing worth wearing. Despite having a wardrobe filled to the brim, you find every clothing piece as a drab, a repeat not worth wearing. This thought sparked the idea of an online fashion rental platform, which was put into fruition by three IIT Bombay graduates- Shreya Mishra, Tushar Saxena and Pranay Surana. That was how the concept of Flyrobe was born.
The platform was launched in September 2015, and now it claims to have partnered with reputed designer powerhouses, the likes of which include- Outhouse, Ritu Kumar, Shehla Khan and Masaba Gupta. The inspiration behind Flyrobe
Shreya Mishra, one of the brains behind Flyrobe, visited AirBnB’s office as a part of Stanford University’s entrepreneurship summit back in 2012. The mechanism of asset utilisation and the scope of rentals caught her eye. This little idea is what brimmed over the other two founders- Tushar and Pranay, and they brainstormed over one simple thought: “What are the items that people fancy buying but have little utility?” The answer to that was quite simple. Fashion commodities.
The idea of an online fashion rental platform was surveyed, taking 200 women as a sample space. More than 80 percent of the gave a strongly favorable response to the idea- which led to the birth of Flyrobe’s website
Initial Steps and Teambuilding
The trio started with a beta version of the website which was their pilot project for the startup. Their beta website got an overwhelming response, which led them to allot wings to their idea. The Flyrobe app was launched in September 2015 and in October 2015, their website was launched.
Tushar already had enough experience under his belt, as he was the brains behind Pranay’s first startup, Hegemon Technologies, during their tenure as a student at IIT-Bombay. Tushar was inducted into the Flyboard team while he was still three months away from graduation.
Flyrobe slowly grew into a 30-member team from various fields like engineering, marketing, product development, operations and business development. The team included those who had work experiences at reputed companies like Inmobi, Cadbury, Tinyowl and Bain & Co. Their CBO, Sreejita Deb, was a Harvard Business School alumnus with no less than 25 years of executive experience with tech giants Google and Amazon.
Their Gradual Growth
Flyrobe app, despite their mixed reviews, had a 4.3 rating on Google Play Store and served no less than 4,500 customers on their initial lap. Flyrobe was funded by one of the most reputed VC firms: Sequoia Capital, Chiratae Ventures (earlier IDG) and Tokyo-based STRIVE Ventures (earlier GREE).
They received $10 million worth of funding in their last series round. They also raised INR 26 crore worth of capital from angel investors like Kunal Bahl, Abhishek Jain, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Sandeep Tandon, Zishaan Hayath and Kunal Shah.
Rent It Bae, another fashion rental service, acquired Flyrobe in November 2019 and the merged business now runs under the banner of Flyrobe. After the acquisition, the combined value of the two companies was valued at INR 60 crore. Aanchal Saini, the former CEO of Rent It Bae, now works as the CEO of Flyrobe.
To facilitate the acquisition, a new Series A fund round worth $3 million was raised, led by a micro VC fund firm, GEMS Partners. STRIVE Ventures continues to be on board with the merged company.
It has enabled an AI platform where people can use a virtual trial room to see whether the piece of clothing fits and looks perfect, under the brand “Tryrobe”. It also has plans to open 10 franchise stores across the country at the end of 2020.
The Indian fashion-tech genre is bursting at the seams, with fundings over $166 million being pumped into the startups catering to this sector. With a rise in publicity, mass penetration due to the internet and the convenience provided by online shopping, there is a lot of potential for growth in this segment.
Startups like Flyrobe are providing a fresher perspective to this segment, and we can expect a better growth rate of these companies in the later years.
Flyrobe Online fashion portal Fashion rental Funding FashionTech Startup India Investment Clothing rental Rent It Bae Entrepreneur