Software to Help Garment Manufacturers Cut Better and Save Fabric
When you think about the software, the Indian textile and garment industry is not something that comes to your mind right away. But this wasn’t the case with Mausmi Ambastha she realized that there is a dire need for advanced and practical software that can optimize usage of fabric. contributes 4 percent to India GDP. This industry is the second largest employer after agriculture. Observing the industry with a keen eye, Indian textile and garment industry is a key player in the national economy and who was associated with the industry for more than 8 years.
– who were all in a way exploring opportunities to startup. And the idea clicked. The scope of contributing towards the industry by developing a complete solution, which can not only bring productivity, profitability, but also contribute towards the greener environment was a vision that excited each and they started out building it. The company is Threadsol Soft wares Pvt. Ltd. and after undergoing a 2 year gestation period of product development, intelloCut broke through the cloud in early January 2013. Madhumita Phukan and Abhishek Srivastava, Bratish Goswami Manasij Ganguli, January 2011, Mausmi shared her apparel and garment industry experience with her software and marketing expert friends- And thus was born the idea of intelloCut. On a fortunate evening of Mausmi Ambastha spoke to Employment News and shared her experiences. Following are the excerpts of her interview
Question : How did you get idea for the business?
Answer : Fabric is the most important raw material and is 70-80percent of the garment production cost in the apparel industry. I have been associated with industry for the past 10 years and during this period I realized that there is a dire need for advanced and practical software that can optimize usage of fabric. With the aim of boosting the sewn products industry by saving fabric, labor and time in an efficient and smart way, I discussed the idea with my technology evangelist friends. We were contemplating ideas for a new startup venture at that time. We did a brain storming session and a critical market analysis on the competitive landscape, market entry, growth scenario and the future prospect. Looking at the potential market opportunity, we decided to materialize the concept and founded ‘ThreadSol Softwares Private Limited’ and developed a revolutionary product ‘intelloCut’,
Q. : What was your mission at the outset?
Ans. : The onset mission was to be the de facto planning system fort the Indian Garment Industry. When we started this company, we imagined we’d have at the most 25 employee – 1 product, will be selling in India. Today, in 3 years, we have 100 employees, 3 products and are spread over 13 countries. The mission today is to be the number 1 garment tech company in the world.
Q. :How many employees work in the enterprises?
Ans. : ThreadSol currently has a headcount of 100, working in different offices and countries. There is a mix of talent- right from software developers for developing the product, to a team of world-class consultants, our sales team, marketing, finance, admin, product development and support.
Q. :What services do you provide?
Ans. : We started with our flagship product- intelloCut which is intelligent material planning and optimization software. It measures, predicts and optimizes material utilization and productivity for sewn products industry (apparel, footwear, automotive, home furnishing, technical textiles etc.). Later we conceptualized and developed intelloBuy- which is intelligent material buying prediction software. It predicts the exact amount of fabric required for an order, not more, not less. We are now in beta testing stage of our 3rd product- intelloTrace which is world’s first NFC based production management system. It will help manufacturers track every inch of fabricright from fabric store to finishing and shipment. We have also developed support applications like intelloGreen- a smart tablet application which replaces on-floor layslips currently used in the apparel cutting floor, rendering their industry paperless and green. Additionally, we have developed intelloMobile- world’s first real-time fabric utilization mobile reporting system, which enables users to view all reports on the go- anytime, anywhere.
Q. : How do you advertise your business?
Ans. : Honestly, we don’t directly advertise our products. This is mainly because of the concepts behind the products, which first need an awareness and understanding and then acceptance by the people in garment industry. Content is the key for that. We use content to educate people and make them aware about the approach to fabric utilization and saving. This in the long run will help us in reaching the masses of the industry, who will then be better equipped to understand the intricacies of the solutions and importance of saving fabric. I, at present, have a blog called ‘Stitch Diary’, through which I convey my acquired knowledge over the years, to the people in the industry. I, along with other industry experts, have also conducted various webinars and events to discuss on various conceptual topics. My team is also in the process of starting video logs, which will be an extension of my blog ‘Stitch Diary’. So videos will be another medium to communicate my understanding to the industry. Apart from this, ThreadSol has been participating in various apparel industry trade shows, across different geographies to reach out to people there.
Q. : To what do you attribute your success?
Ans. : I believe our first step to success was expanding our business globally in the early days itself. It has been the best decision. The apparel market in India is a bit resistive in accepting the product. It is big markets like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where our major source of revenue exists. Another reason is that we constantly undo what we develop. It is like dismantling a machine and building it again- new and updated. We have been doing this for every product. We make it, deploy it, undo it and then update it. And last but the most important attribute to ThreadSol’s success is the team. Our team’s vision of teamwork, expertise and diligence marks the journey of this entrepreneurship. Absolutely amazing, fresh-minded group of people- they are the future leaders of this organisation.
Q.: What made you choose your current location?
Ans. : ThreadSol shifted its base from Bangalore to Noida last year. This was mainly because our team has to travel constantly to cater to different geographies and getting the visa approved for different locations was quite a problem in Bangalore. We therefore shifted to Noida where these formalities will be easier to cater to. We also have office in Kolkata where our core development team sits.
Q. : What is the uniqueness about your business?
Ans. : ThreadSol has opened an entirely new market segment for the sewn product (garment) manufacturing industry in lines of material utilization and efficiency. - The sewn products industry presently is heavily dependent on CAD to help them maximize their fabric utilization. ThreadSol challenges the present mindset of the industry to view fabric cost saving from a new perspective. To buy only what they need and effectively use what they have. - It is heavily differentiated in the product space as it is the only start up in the entire world attempting to work in this market segment.
Q. : What are the responsibilities as the boss of a firm?
Ans. : The funny yet exceptional thing about ThreadSol is that there is no boss. We don’t work in a bureaucratic environment. There are only leaders and mentors. Yes I am the COO, but then it has not only been me who has shaped the organization. The journey as a COO of this company includes looking after a lot of departments. Right from product development to finances, to marketing and support, I have been a mentor to each department to work in sync with the organization’s vision.
Q. : What made you choose this type of business?
Ans. : We all wear clothes, and we will always wear clothes. There’s no chance of human race going back to the stone-age era. And as long as humans continue to love fashion, apparel industry will flourish. The value of this global apparel industry today stands at $1 trillion, growing at a CAGR of 9 percent every year. The industry is booming. And as it is growing at such a fast pace, there is an ardent need for apparel manufacturers to save their costs. This can only be done through saving cost of their biggest investment- fabric. India alone has more than 30,000 factories producing $30 billion of exports and $60 billion of domestic garments. It is expected to grow to $220 billion overall by 2020. The world has around 150,000 factories producing a total of $660 billion worth of garments. Taking in the other verticals of leather / inflatable / upholstery / footwear / home furnishing manufacturers, the market size is even bigger.
Q. : Does your company help the community where it is located?
Ans. : The main benefit of ThreadSol solutions lies in fabric saving, which if seen from an environmental point of view is a huge attempt towards reducing fabric wastage. Many of us are unaware of the environmental impact of fabric waste. Textile industry is the no. 2 polluting industry in the world, after oil industry. To tell you the truth, it all ends up in landfills. And this is just half-truth. The water wastage and pollution in manufacturing the garment pieces is something which not many people know. And ThreadSol is contributing its bit by reducing fabric wastage and saving fabric, which otherwise would hugely impact the environment.
Q. : If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Ans. : Starting out as an entrepreneur can be tough, everything you do will demand more and more time, more money, more effort, more sacrifices. The only way to counter this is to be more and more perseverant, more focused, more determined and most importantly having more fun in whatever you do.
Q. : What are the two challenges you have faced in your business?
Ans. : The major challenge, that we had to face, was to make our team understand the intricacies of the garment industry and the production floor processes. We are very proud that we have overcome these challenges very well. We took our entire software development team to production floors for trials to see how the whole process worked. Today each member of ThreadSol irrespective of their department completely understands the product and how it works on the production floor. They are capable of running a software trial and explaining the concepts to a core production floor person. This helped us immensely as everyone started to view the product from an end user perspective. This gave us focused approach and smoother communication within the team. Another challenge in terms of business was the language and cultural difference in multiple countries. Since the product is spread across various locations, our business needs to cater those geographies where a lot of times we face language as the biggest barrier in communicating the concept of the software. Also, when our team of consultants visit factories in these geographies, they have to put up lot of patience and learn lot of new things to sync with the people in that geography. Thankfully, we have been quite successful in handling all our implementations across 13 countries with 7 varying languages spoken locally.
Q. : What about the sustainability of startups in India?
Ans. : For years, Unicorns, the top valuation brands in the market valued at $1 billion or more, have always been the favorite of investors. But now, India’s largest unicorns have been seen struggling in recent times to raise funding for higher valuations. This is mainly because the start-ups need to become a cockroach and not the mythical unicorn. Cockroach, which survives every obstacle, and comes out strong even when others fail. If Indian startups want to survive, their only option is to become a cockroach- not fancy, but sustainable cockroach., with sustainable business models creating lasting companies. So if they raise funds, they will grow faster, but even if they don’t, they will continue to create value.