Inkfruit, a community-centered online apparel store, has raised up to $3 million in Series A funding from SAIF Partners, an early stage venture capital firm, sources close to the development told VCCircle.

Kashyap Dalal, founder, Ink Fruit, declined to comment on the development. The firm is founded by  two IIT grads -- Kashyap Dalal and Navneet Rai -- both in their 20s. Headquartered in Mumbai, Inkfruit (then called Gnome) officially launched in early December 2007.

This round of capital infusion into the company would also mean an exit for angels or the first set of investors into the company. Sources add that about $2.2 million will go into the company and the remaining would go into buying the angel stake. The angel investors include early stage venture Seedfund's CFO Anand Lunia, executive director Paula Mariwala and partner Mahesh Murthy. The founding members of Seedfund, however, invested in Inkfruit in their personal capacity.  Anand Lunia, best known for co-founding Pune based e-Learning company Brainvisa, issued the first check of Rs 10 lakh to the company in 2007. Inkfruit has since then raised close to Rs 1 crore in equity between the three investors.

Inkfruit is in a pretty old-fashioned business of  selling T-shirts (and a few other clothing items) but with a difference.  The designs in its online catalogue come from its customers, who submit original artwork to the site. The company  employs the crowd sourcing formula for its designs.  The company  showcases its products at retail outlets like Planet M, Lifestyle stores and a few upscale malls.

Sources add that the monies will be used by Inkfruit to expand the product offering from T-shirts to laptop bags to a set of accessories.  While the exact revenues of the privately-held company could not be ascertained, one of the early backers into the company said, it was recording north of Rs 3 crore annually. Says this backer, who did not want to be identified, the youth of today has a strong sense of personalization and they want designs by which they can express themselves.

Buoyed by the success of Makemytrip IPO, SAIF Partners, one of the early investors into the company continues to reaffirm its faith in internet businesses. The venture capital firm which has about $4 billion of assets under management has invested  $20 million in  Catmoss Retail Ltd,  $25 million in Network 18 Media &Investments Ltd,  $10 million in Amoha Education Pvt. Ltd, TV 18 Home shopping network Ltd and $115 million in National Stock Exchange of India among other investments.

According to analysts, companies like Inkfruit can leverage the huge consumer discretionary spending boom in India coupled with increasing internet penetration among the youth. Inkfruit essentially follows the model of Chicago-based Threadless which is understood to be a billion-dollar company registering huge growth.

According to experts, the next decade will bring massive growth in the Internet sector in India supported by highly favourable demographics, growing Internet-broadband penetration, launch of one of the world’s best 3G networks, growing middle class-income levels, noticeable pick-up in tech-gadget and mobile culture, and surge in home-grown Internet start-ups.

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