Fan merchandise & customisation platform in talks to raise up to $10M

Delhi-based Bluegape LifeStyle Pvt Ltd, the company that owns and operates, a fan merchandise & customisation platform, is in talks to raise $8-10 million in funding, Sahil Baghla, co-founder and CEO of the company informed

While he did not disclose the names of the firms, Baghla mentioned that the company is in talks with three VCs as of now. While two of them are Bangalore-based, the third one is a Mumbai-based VC. "We plan to syndicate with two of them," he said.

Even though the founders have already started meeting the VCs, Baghla said that it would take at least three to four months to close the deal. "We want to wait for a couple of months so that our revenue improves. We expect it to grow to Rs 1.80 crore from Rs 1 crore in monthly revenues.”

The funds raised will be invested in improving the supply chain management. "We do not hold inventory for all our products. We first get the orders, and then go to different manufacturers to complete the same. So we want to work aggressively on our supply chain management to make it smoother," Baghla said.

The money will also go into brand positioning. Besides organic process of approaching brands, the company will promote itself via Google and Facebook ads. It also plans to improve the web interface for its B2B users.

"Currently, it takes almost 24 hours for a designer to go live on the website. We want to ensure that they can go live in real-time," he said. There will also be product category expansion. As of now, it has 20 products categories, and the company plans to introduce a kids and female section that will offer items like t-shirts, bike stickers and cases for tablets.

While the company initially had plans to go B2C, Baghla mentioned that has been cancelled and Bluegape will remain B2B. "We have dropped that plan; we are completely focused on building our brand now. We want to add more brands to our platform, and plan to have 1,000 brands by the end of the calendar year, up from 181 as of now," he said. 

The Delhi-based startup was founded in August 2011 by IIT-Kanpur alumni Baghla, Ayush Varshney (CTO) and Akash Rastogi (operations). Shailendra Singh (design) later joined them. Bluegape helps brands to launch fan merchandising by suggesting a product line for a brand based on fan analytics, post which it takes care of the graphic designing part.

It has a pool of manufacturers in all categories like apparel, footwear, toys, bags, sporting goods, publishing, gifts & stationary, collectibles, glassware, food & beverage, etc., who manufacture the products for the brand.

The company had raised Rs 1.56 crore (around $250,000) in funding from global investors via an online funding platform in January this year. Angel investors from multiple geographies participated in the round. It had raised an undisclosed amount in May last year from Aniket Khera (fund manager at Wegmans Financial Services Ltd), Rahul Bhatia (portfolio manager at Willow Investment Management, LLC) and an unnamed internet entrepreneur.

The startup was also selected by TLabs, an accelerator programme run by Times Internet Ltd (TIL) and apart from the mentoring, it also received a cheque of Rs 10 lakh from the accelerator in March 2013.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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