The Mumbai startup connects fashion professionals with individuals, organisations and partners to build their brand and spur their business growth.
Nikhil Hegde and Amit Bhardwaj were working on a professional networking concept to pitch to the University of Leeds in 2014 when they stumbled upon a more focused networking idea. During earlier research, the two had met people from the world of fashion and had found that the industry was highly fragmented and unorganised.
“Our networking concept could effectively address the issues faced by the fashion industry,” says 34-year-old Bhardwaj.
After some more research, the two decided to tap into the opportunity offered by the fashion ecosystem and, in August 2014, founded 6Degree, a fashion and tech networking platform. The name was inspired by the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory, which states that anyone in the world can be connected to any other person/organisation through a chain of not more than five acquaintances, or six steps.
What 6Degree does is connect fashion professionals with individuals, organisations and partners to build their brand and spur their business growth. Its services include curation of designers in line with fashion weeks’ themes—beach, bridal, etc.—and fashion services, such as PR, portfolio photo shoots and brand consulting. The startup offers custom packages and subscription models to its clients for its services.
6Degree was founded with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh put in by the founders and, in September 2014, received Rs 45 lakh funding from two UK-based angel investors. It also received Rs 15 lakh from the government’s Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration, Department of Science and Technology, in October 2015 and, in April 2016, raised Rs 1.2 crore from the Indian Angel Network. Investor interest is a testimony to the startup’s promise: with a lean staff strength of six (including the two co-founders), it saw a revenue of Rs 1.1 crore in 2015-16.
6Degree, which operates on a revenue-sharing model with its partners and customers, has already generated Rs 1.4 crore in the current financial year and expects to see a four-fold year-on-year increase in the top line in 2016-17. “In the previous financial year, we were operating with 20-40% operating margins and expect a 5% increase in the current financial year,” says Hegde.
The founders say that from raising funds and hiring resources to have their concept accepted by the Indian fashion market and getting professionals on board as clients was a big challenge.
“We went through all possible struggles that entrepreneurs go through. Picking the right people, who shared our vision, helped us surmount the challenges,” says Bhardwaj.
6Degree, which won the Best Startup Award in 2016 from EDC, an organisation of the government of Goa, is the India talent partner for the popular Lakme Fashion Week. The startup, which has also partnered with Fashion Forward, Dubai, is looking at teaming up with more global fashion week events. “India is known mostly for providing software as a service, not fashion services, globally. To address this, we are sharing our proof-of-concept and proven services with international organisations operating in India markets,” says 33-year-old Hegde.
Technology is the key area of focus for 6Degree. “Tech will help us scale and enable the fashion world to be more connected,” says Bhardwaj. The startup is looking to spruce up its tech offering by launching fashion enterprise solutions for fashion week organisers. It will subsequently be provided to budding fashion entrepreneurs as well. The product will be in the market by November. “We are betting big on this platform. It will help better organise fashion weeks, which currently require at least three months of preparation and a lot of coordination between multiple teams,” says Bhardwaj.
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