While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit most businesses badly, Delhi-based startup Styledotme has a different story. Founder-CEO Meghna Saraogi says that her business has seen 10x growth in the past year, and has expanded its clientele to more than 220, including the US-based diamond merchant Forevermark, all thanks to their flagship product – MirrAR, an augmented reality platform which lets users try out precious jewellery virtually. (Watch the video to find out more on what makes this tool unique.)
The pandemic has made people fear human touch and depend on technology more than ever. While weddings were conducted with 50-100 guests and telecast via Facebook, the wedding-shopping was also going online. When it comes to jewellery, MirrAR gave a unique proposition to jewellery retailers: integrate their technology to the jeweler’s website to provide easy and comfortable virtual try-on facility to consumers. (It also allows you to try jewellery on models/pictures - if you’re a male/you need to buy for a friend.) This would enable sales, even when moving freely was not an option anymore.
Indore-based Meghna started off her career as a graphic designer in New Delhi. She has done Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from College of Art Delhi in commercial arts and Masters in Visual Communication at Srishti school of Art design and Technology, Bangalore.
Talking to MAKERS India, she recollects the beginning of her entrepreneurial venture.
“I was a small town girl in Delhi, with apprehensions about dressing. I thought it would be cool to have an online platform to help me with advice on fashion. I started ideating in 2012.”
It was after two years that she launched Styledotme- an instant fashion advice platform to help you with shopping.
Although Meghna lacked knowledge in tech, she says that she found the right designers and mentors which helped her immensely. “I was lucky to show my idea to Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder of Naukri.com, who helps young entrepreneurs a lot, and get his feedback. I also found my co-founder in Akhil Tolani, a techie - when he was still in college. He brought in tech and passion, although he was earlier earning more (from other projects) than I could pay him,” she recounts fondly.
After a year of launching Styledotme, Meghna felt that the instant fashion advice platform was probably ahead of its time. On the other hand, she was keen on building AR (augmented reality) for retail, as Snapchat and Instagram were changing the way people were engaging with content altogether. That was the beginning of MirrAR - which lets people virtually try on things via augmented reality (AR) on digital platforms of client brands, via iPads.
StyleDotMe raised Rs 3.5 crore in a pre-Series A funding a few months ago. MirrAR has now expanded to wrist watches and eyewear, beyond jewellery. Meghna says that the team – which has grown to 35 in 2020 – is set to expand the product further, with R&D already on the way for virtual try-on of make-up ad clothes.
The startup has got more than 220 clients now, with 25 of them having integrated MirrAR to their websites. The startup is now inching close to profitability.
(Interviewed and produced by Athira Nair)