Interview: Jasmeet Thind On How India Is Learning To Love Pre-loved Fashion With CoutLoot

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Anyone who owns or has owned a luxury fashion product knows that not only is it difficult to source an authentic used product but it is also difficult to sell a preloved fashion product in India where the luxury products market is relatively limited. In comes CoutLoot, a new marketplace to solve this problem. This new start up is the joint effort of young guns Jasmeet Thind, Sahil Khimavat, Mahima Kaul and Vinit Jain all of who are 22-25 years old. I spoke to Jasmeet to know more about how the idea was born and how the journey has been so far.

How would you define CoutLoot?
CoutLoot is a marketplace service to buy and sell authentic pre-loved fashion products, launched in September this year. One can find everything from high street to luxury brands, to buy or sell, on CoutLoot at up till 80% off, all in great condition. Currently we have our website and hope to get our apps out by the end of the year.

CoutLoot Founders
CoutLoot Founders

How does it work?
Once the sellers submits the Selling form on the website, on board stylist will approve/disapprove their product for a free pickup based on the details filled in by the seller, which largely depends on the age, brand and condition of the product. For all the approved items CoutLoot gives a free pickup to the seller. On receiving the product, CoutLoot checks for quality and authenticity. On successful clearance of quality and authenticity we will quote a listing price to the seller for his/her approval. Post this the item will be shot and listed on www.coutloot.com for sale. Once sold, CoutLoot handles shipping, delivery and returns for the seller. Normally, the seller’s payout is processed in three days after the product is delivered to the customer, considering there are no returns. CoutLoot charges a 15% on the payout amount as a charge for the services provided out of which a portion of the commission is also donated to our charity partners.

What inspired you to start CoutLoot?
This one time, my sister was down from the States after her wedding and all her stuff was lying in the closet of the room which I had taken over. My mother insisted on donating her clothes and shoes to charity but my sister wasn’t keen on doing so since she had spent a lot on those. That’s when I realized there was no one place in the city where people could sell or buy pre-loved fashion products. After months of research, we figured out that a lot of thrift was happening offline or through individual Instagram accounts but there was no one place where this was happening. And this is how CoutLoot was born.

Are you bootstrapped? Are you looking for funding?
CoutLoot is currently bootstrapped. Yes, we are seeking seed funding, which will be our first round to expand our services to more cities, marketing, building a solid product and expanding the team. We will hopefully close this by early Jan’16.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting out?
When we started out on CoutLoot, we didn’t have a tech resource on board, which made it very difficult for us to get things executed. We were trying to build a fashion tech company without a strong tech background which we eventually overcame by finding us a tech co-founder and getting a tech team on board.

What was the best and worst advice you received when starting out?
When I started building Coutloot, I shared the idea with some close friends and mentors for the validation. One of the worst advice I received was “Don’t quit your paying job. Just hire people to work on your startup ‘hobby’ for you”. This very statement is detrimental for any start up. If you do not believe in your own idea and do not take that plunge to make it happen, no one else will. And the best advice came from a mentor who said, “All you need to do is only one thing and do it better than everybody else”. This thought helped change a lot of the things we do at CoutLoot.

How has the traction been till now? Which cities do you operate in currently?
Before CoutLoot went live, we had more than 1500 signups for the beta launch in a matter of a month. CoutLoot is now live in Mumbai since September and currently gives free pickup services to sellers in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and has just expanded to Chandigarh last week. However, delivery of the purchased item from the platform is done all over India. We have sourced 600+ authentic branded products and have sold 150+ products so far.

Any collaborations yet?
The Candle Project, a non profit organization based out of Mumbai which educates kids from underprivileged areas is our charity partner. A percent of all our profits are donated to strengthen the quality of education provided to the kids. Pressto, a chain of premium dry clean & laundry service is our hygiene partner. CoutLoot has also collaborated with fashion bloggers to sell from their own closet on the platform.

How large is the CoutLoot team?
Currently the team has a total of 8 members in functions like Operations, Technology, Fashion, Designing and stitching everything together J

What is your biggest challenge currently as a start up?
Unlike in the West, India as a culture is has not yet grown to understand the ‘pre-loved fashion’ culture. The segment is nascent and our biggest challenge is to change the way people buy and sell fashion products. We’re positive and focusing on getting our first set of early adopters who eventually will lead this trend.

Money no object, if there is one thing you could change about your business right away what would it be?
If money was not a constraint, we’d love to add a marketing leg to CoutLoot which is the costliest yet most effective function for any startup or a brand.

What is the one business lesson you have learnt till now that you would like to share?
As a startup, if you’re getting into building the product the one thing that really makes or breaks history is the answer to this question ‘What is the problem your product going to solve?’. If the solution is built on connecting dots and is scalable then you’re probably doing it right. Connecting the dots is a better business model rather than creating new sentences. I’d also say, invest low on inventory and high on the product and the service you’re looking to provide because ideally a sustainable business is something that understands the pain point of a customer and solves it better every time.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Always make sure to personally understand and involve yourself in every aspect of your business whether it is speaking to your delivery boy or your 10th customer or the techie who codes for you. Understanding all the aspects and the attributes of your startup and living it each day to make it better will help you take it through.

What are CoutLoot’s future plans?
The plan is simple. After closing our first round of funding, we want to expand the services to 10 cities by the end of first quarter of 2016. Launch the Android & iOS Mobile app. Create a working space where logistics + fashion + tech come together to create a better CoutLoot each day. We’re also looking forward to launch two special undisclosed features.

Have a start up story of your own to share? Write to us at [email protected]

Post By Garima Sharma (111 Posts)

Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.

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Garima Sharma

Garima Sharma
Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.