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Little Box's Journey: From Northeast India to Shark Tank success

Pankhi Sarma , March 30, 2024
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Little Box, which is eyeing a major expansion in Mumbai, plans to close at more than Rs 75 crore in net revenue and Rs 100 crore in gross revenue in FY 2024-2025

Guwahati: If one has not been living under a rock, one has surely heard of 'Little Box', a fashion start-up from the Northeast that has been making waves nationwide. The Guwahati-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand recently went viral after securing a groundbreaking deal on Shark Tank India's Season 3, resulting in a rare offer from all five sharks. The deal, totaling Rs 75 lakhs in funding for a 2.5% equity stake, marks a groundbreaking achievement for Rimjhim Deka and Partha Kakati, the dynamic duo behind 'Little Box.'

The duo's journey began in June 2022, with a vision to offer trendy, sustainable, and affordable clothing options to the fashion-forward youth of India. Their innovative approach caught the attention of investors on Shark Tank India, resulting in a rare offer from all five sharks. The company is now valued at Rs 30 crore.

Despite challenges in establishing their brand, including the initial struggle to find the right resources in Guwahati, Rimjhim and Partha remain optimistic about the potential of the Northeast as a fashion capital. With plans to expand its offerings and revenue, Little Box aims to close at over Rs 75 crore in net revenue and Rs 100 crore in gross revenue.

"Our brand has reached new heights, boasting a remarkable monthly revenue of Rs 2 crore and achieving a 15% EBITDA profit margin", Deka told Business North East during a recent interaction with Business North East. Little Box's success story is rooted in its commitment to sustainability, as all sales are conducted online through its website. "We have a strong online presence and a dedicated team of over 40 people,"  shares Deka.

By adopting an on-demand production model, the brand minimizes waste and ensures ethical manufacturing practices, as well as allowing them to swiftly adapt to evolving fashion trends.

The bootstrapped brand began with just Rs 30–35 lakh and achieved a net revenue of Rs 9 crore in 14 months. "This year, we have projected net revenue of Rs 36–40 crore," Kakati told Business North East. "In the first year, we achieved a gross merchandise value (GMV) of Rs 13 crore and net sales of 8 crore. We are on track to close with a GMV of around 40 crores and net sales of around 32 crores.

Asked about the duo's journey on Shark Tank India, Deka stated, "We are not looking for valuation; we are looking for value." The positive response from the show increased in average order value and total orders, with gross sales reaching Rs 28.77 lakh.

The founders further highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to broaden their horizons and look beyond traditional markets, leveraging technology and innovation to reach new heights of success. One of the key decisions driving Little Box's success is its strategic expansion across different regions. "We have our unit in Agra, Noida, and Delhi, and our operations extend to Ludhiana, Surat, and Ahmedabad, where we procure our raw materials," stated Kakati. This diversified operational footprint not only ensures a steady supply chain but also strengthens the brand's presence in key markets, Kakati explains. Deka, overseeing the design and marketing aspects of the business, also shared insights into their operational setup. "In Delhi, we have our factories and warehouse, while in Guwahati, our focus is on backend office content, marketing, IT, and customer care," she explained.

However, the decision not to establish a warehouse in Guwahati was not taken without due consideration. "Having a warehouse in Guwahati would have incurred significant logistics costs, around 13–18 percent of net revenue, which is unsustainable for us at the moment," explained Kakati. Despite the strategic advantages of operating in Guwahati, the logistical challenges prompted the company to explore alternative locations for future expansion, including Mumbai.

"However, we are gearing up for expansion with plans to establish a warehouse in Mumbai, as we have experienced a surge in orders from various regions across India, particularly Maharashtra, where 27 percent of our orders originate," said Deka.

At the same time, Kakati highlighted the company's initial penetration into Northeast India. "When we started in 2022, 13 percent of our orders came from the Northeast, especially Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. However, our recent data shows that demand has expanded beyond the region, necessitating a strategic presence in key metropolitan areas like Mumbai," Kakati stated.

Little Box does not adhere to fixed designs but evolves its offerings daily to reflect the latest trends. "Fast fashion for us means replicating trendy and high brands while ensuring sustainability and ease of wear for our customers," remarked Deka.

The recent appearance on Shark Tank India Season 3 further propelled Little Box into the spotlight, although the founders emphasized that the show was not about setting valuation but rather boosting marketing efforts.

The Little Box founders say their focus remains on serving the Indian market with high-quality, locally-made products. With the rise of foreign investments in the D2C sector, brands like Little Box can capitalize on emerging opportunities. As Rimjhim Deka and Partha Kakati remarked, "It has been a roller coaster ride for both of us, but we are determined to continue shaping the future of fashion in India."

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