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1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2019: Neeman’s, Hyderabad, India

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 19th 2019

Rising affluent population and demand for designer and comfortable shoes is boosting the footwear market in India. The footwear market is poised to continue its strong growth momentum supported by growing awareness about the latest trends and consciousness among consumers, more involvement from omni-channel retailing and increased trust in branded footwear. Neeman’s is a niche e-retailer that manufactures multi-purpose, comfortable shoes using natural and sustainable fibers with minimal carbon footprint.

Neeman’s was founded in April 2018 by CEO Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh. Taran specializes in data strategy, technology, and analytics and has worked as an operational strategy consultant for several pharma and life sciences companies like Blue Cross, Flexion, Coherus, and Pfizer. Amar is a veteran in operations and leading companies with over 16 years of experience in running various start-ups.

The idea for Neeman’s was born in August 2016 when Taran found himself packing five pairs of shoes for a trip because none of them alone offered the style and comfort he needed. On further research, he found that shoes used a lot of synthetic fibers that not just made them hot and uncomfortable but were also bad for the environment. He thought, “We look for better, nutritional and organic food, why don’t we look for similar qualities in our shoes?”

Today, Neeman’s shoes are designed in London and manufactured using state-of-the-art machinery in a woman-owned shoe manufacturing unit in China. The shoes are made using Merino Wool, which is superfine and lightweight, moisture-wicking and breathable, naturally odor resistant, and keeps the skin cool and dry even in extreme temperatures. For creating the fabric, the company collaborates with ‘The Woolmark Company’, a non-profit organization that serves Australian farmers.

Neeman’s shoe collection comprises of a Wool Jogger that serves as a multi-functional lightweight running shoe, a classic sneaker with a modern twist, and a simple yet elegant loafer. All the products are machine-washable and designed for all-day comfort.

Neeman’s did a Beta launch in October 2018 for UK men sizes 7,8, and 9 and received great early adopter reviews. It recorded revenue of INR 10 lakh ($14,600) on sale of 147 pairs and got 100 sign-ups for UK sizes 6,9, and 11. On 23 December 2018, it did its main launch for all sizes. Within a week, it recorded revenue of INR 4.3 lakhs ($6,282) on sale of 65 pairs. In January 2019, it sold 353 pairs. In February, it sold 531 pairs and revenue was INR 28.9 lakhs ($42,222). Over the last three months, it has grown over 40% in revenue, number of orders, and customers. Neeman’s has also been awarded Emerging Brand in the Consumer Category for 2018-2019.

Neeman’s is the first brand in India to use Merino Wool in shoes. Other Merino Wool shoe manufacturers include Allbirds and Le mouton in USA, Glesswein in Austria, and Baabuk in Europe, Australia and USA.

Neeman’s gained early traction by creating innovative marketing campaigns on why the crowded shoe space needs Neeman’s and that highlight Neeman’s being an Innovative and industry leader in creating Comfortable and Sustainable Shoes. It has also used blogs and social media to educate consumers about the benefits of its shoes and then used Press Release Articles and blog articles to amplify the reach.

All the Neeman’s shoe styles are priced at INR 6500 ($95) with Free Shipping and Free Returns. It has a 7-day trial policy wherein customers can test the comfort of Neeman’s shoes in their homes and return it if they don’t love the comfort they offer.

The total footwear market in India is around $8 billion as per an Assocham Study and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.6% from 2019-23.

Neeman’s targets the Premium Footwear Category priced over $70, which accounts for around 10% of the market. Hence the Overall Total Addressable Market for Neeman’s is around $650-$700 million. The Premium Market is expected to grow to $1 billion in the next 3 years.

Neeman’s growth strategy is to keep building a loyal customer base and create more innovative products catered to different market segments. It wants to establish Neeman’s as a leading brand in creating truly comfortable shoes with the best of natural sources. It plans to

  • Start a women’s shoe line in mid-2019
  • Start a kid’s shoe line around Dec 2019
  • Come out with different innovations in comfortable footwear
  • Host popup stores in various locations within the country and get customers to try its shoes
  • Create effective content on its blog and social media to educate the benefits of its shoes

Neeman’s is bootstrapped so far. The founders are looking to raise $1.5 million in funding for

  • Inventory: $400,000
  • Marketing, Advertising, Branding: $520,000
  • Working Capital: $235,000
  • New Product Development in Women & Kids segment: $26,000
  • Launching Two More Styles: $12,000
  • Popup Locations & Experience Zones: $30,000

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2019

. Bakkbenchers, Mumbai, India
. Neeman’s, Hyderabad, India

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