In this fast growing world it is important for businesses to look out for the most cost-effective and time efficient methods of carrying out business transactions. There are many useful tools in the market that can help one make the most productive choices when it comes to their business. TRI3D is a start up based in Chennai that has come forth with a brilliant way to carry out saree photoshoots virtually with little or no effort! This is a game-changer for people in the saree retail industry as it enables them to substitute the need for actually running a photoshoot. In conversation with Sumanth Alwala, Co-founder of TRI3D, we get to learn more about this startup and its different services!
Chennai Insider: Give a brief info about your startup?
Sumanth: TRI3D is an IITM Incubation Cell and NASSCOM 10K incubated Start up, working in the space of apparel visualization. TRI3D was started by my co-founder Nitish and I back in 2016, and today we are a 20 member strong team based out of IITM Research Park in Chennai. We started offering our product to our customers since the second half of 2018 after a couple of pivots. Our first product was a saree visualizer for draping sarees virtually on models and then we kept adding more categories like dress materials, home furnishings. We have also launched a second product dedicated for visualizing fabrics in various dressing styles in the beginning of this year.
Chennai Insider: A digital draping software is a very unique idea, what inspired you to do this? What is the story behind it?
Sumanth: Nitish and I used to exchange various ideas and follow technologies that are catching up. 3D printing was one of them. We bought a 3D printer, started playing with it, and realized we could scan ourselves with xbox 360 and then 3D print it. That is when we felt we could scan a person and simulate various garments on them. After exploring some existing work on this side that is there in the market, we felt we could address that problem better. Once we made a prototype, we went around a lot of retail stores in Hyderabad showing a version of it. To our surprise, retailers were more interested in taking a screenshot and uploading to their facebook page rather than using it to show customers in the store. These were typically the retailers who were already selling online. That is how we realized that this digital draping could be a very useful solution for online retailers.
Chennai Insider: Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
Sumanth: Both of us were working before starting TRI3D. Nitish is a graduate from IIT Bombay, in electrical engineering, and he worked for a hedge fund firm called World Quant, and then briefly with a sister company of Housing called IREF as a Data Scientist. I am a graduate from IIT Madras in Mechanical Engg, and then worked with Schlumberger as a field engineer. We have common interests in movies, visualizations and 3D technology. Those discussions lead to starting TRI3D.
Chennai Insider: Where is TRI3D’s based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Sumanth: TRI3D is based out of Chennai currently. We actually started off in Hyderabad and then moved to Chennai after getting incubated in IITM Incubation Cell. It was kind of coincidental and good that we have spent the initial stages of our company in these two cities, because both of them have big brands in saree retailing, and we were able to sell our software to some big brands from Hyderabad and Chennai initially, which helped us validate our technology and use case thoroughly. Later on, being in Chennai helped because Chennai has a lot of online saree sellers, who sell traditional and contemporary styles of sarees, and we had quite a few customers coming from Chennai. We could talk to them, meet them and fine-tune the product even more.
But today, our product and processes evolved so much that we are almost location agnostic. All the processes right from marketing, sales, onboarding customers and customer support are all online. COVID kind of pushed our entire team to work from home, and since May, our entire team has been working from home. We are yet to take a decision on what happens later after things settle down to being normal. But we would definitely like to continue working from Chennai.
Chennai Insider: Tell us your experience working with clients? What has been the response to TRI3D?
Sumanth: Our initial interactions happened with various types of clients. We roamed around Hyderabad and visited a spectrum of potential customers, ranging from small boutique stores to large retail brands. We assumed we will start with small players, as we haven’t established product credibility, but surprisingly it’s the bigger giants who encouraged us, helped us shape the product and its realism. We worked closely with South India Shopping Mall, a couple of the largest saree retailers from Chennai and also one of the biggest fashion e-commerce players. It was the 2nd and 3rd generation entrepreneurs of these retail brands and the innovative leaders from the e-commerce companies, who tried to establish good efficient processes in cataloging through us. Since then, we had a lot of customers coming from Chennai, all the other metro cities, and even some interior locations like Kanjeepuram, Tiruppur, Salem, Pochampally, Mangalagiri, Chirala, Akola, Nashik, Surat, Varanasi, Kota, Panipat, and even Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Abu Dhabi! Today we have customers ranging from individual weavers to big retail brands and e-commerce platforms. We are also working with two government backed cooperative societies from the South Indian States
Almost all the customers are happy with our product and have a healthy relationship. It has been a learning curve working with our customers, understanding what they need and providing that.
Today the most common response to TRI3D was “How TRI3D was able to remove the barrier for creating images of their product that can be uploaded to for selling online make the whole process easy in terms of substituting the need to actually run a photoshoot. Additionally, TRI3D saves a lot of money and time too compared to a regular photoshoot”.
Chennai Insider: What benefits do a digital draping software give over conventional photoshoots?
Sumanth: Typically planning and executing a photoshoot, and then some post-processing of the images takes about 2-3 weeks of time and it costs anything from Rs 300 – Rs 2000 per saree, based on the quality of the photoshoot. It involves
- exploring model options and choosing one
- Waiting until there is a good number of products to make the shoot economic
- Planning the shoot involving various parties like photographer, studio, stylist and model
- Running the shoot and post-processing images
But, with TRi3D, our software can provide the same quality, at a fraction of that cost, and with a turn around time of a few minutes. It takes less than 5 minutes to drape a saree and download the required images.
Chennai Insider: What are your plans for TRI3D’s? What gets you excited about this company?
Sumanth: In the short term, we are focussing on efforts to reach out to as many people across India as possible. Post COVID, we see that most of the retailers want to establish their online channel for their business and we are getting a lot of in-bound messages regarding the same. Our customers have been vocal about how our Software helped them in their online business, so we want to be able to add this value to as many as we can.
The space we are in is fairly unorganized. Also, the majority of the business in this sector still operate in a traditional offline / retail manner. COVID is forcing people to move online and this is a very exciting space to be in. There is a huge scope of organizing the market through our technology and with the number of customers we would be working with. So, that is a huge opportunity ahead of us, and that is what excites us about this company.
Chennai Insider: Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Sumanth: We are a 20 member strong team today working in various specialities, like tech & product, sales & marketing, 3D & Imaging teams. Nitish and I were good friends from our school days. We studied 11th & 12th together in the same institute.
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