Startup Sunday || Season 4 Episode 6 || HYVE Sports

“You need three things to have a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible.”

Owning a team jersey with one’s name, number and logo is a matter of pride for every sports enthusiast. So, here’s where your dreams come true and ‘Hyve Sports’ steps in.

India’s first online customisation portal for active wear took its baby steps from Technopark as an incubatee with Kerala Start-up Mission two years ago. Hyve Sports is the brain child of a group of 15 people from IIMs & NIFT led by Mr. Rakesh Rajeev who himself is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus. After finishing his education in business management, he started working for a multinational pharmaceutical company in Delhi, but the zeal to become entrepreneur made him pursue the idea.

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The Beginning

So, just like all the big firms with humble beginnings, the story of Hyve Sports too began from a small garage at his place. Rakesh began the venture with his own funds. It was not an easy start and he always had questions relating to viability, feasibility and quality of his products. In the initial days, he started working at the textile hub in Tirupur as a ‘daily wage worker’ to know about the mechanism of how the product is made and gain hands on experience. And, then eventually the team started the production in-house.

Today

Hyve sports today functions as the subsidiary of the firm My Elk Store, which has its manufacturing units in Thiruvananthapuram and Tirupur and a subsidiary unit in Mumbai, having met close to 2,500 orders so far. Now, as they have carted products for every single state, exception being North-East, the reach increased dramatically. The brand followed online & offline channels to increase its business. With their globally competent manufacturing units based in Kinfra International Apparel Park and Tirupur, latest digital printing technology, innovative fabrics, streamlined order processing channels, Hyve ensures apparel quality which meets industry titans. They have even designed jerseys for the Sports Council of India (SAI).

What makes it different

The online customisation tool combined with partnerships with Delhivery and PayU offer a hassle-free experience to the user to custom design their team wear online, which is rarity. What comes handy for customisation is a cool online design tool featuring multiple options and a zoomable product preview. Apart from a plethora of templates for colour, size and type, customers can add details such as name, number, body text or upload an artwork or photo of choice to be emblazoned on the fabric. Options are available to select font, text size and colour as well as positioning. Thus, the greatest advantage is all this even for a single order is that no extra cost is charged for the same.

Major corporates like Myntra, Google, Allianz, Infosys have enjoyed their association with Hyve for all kind of active wear and team wear requirements.

The Process

The raw polyester fabric used for the ‘sublimation’ printing of designs is sourced from Surat, Gujarat, in line with Hyve’s material specifications. “Though warm, polyester is deemed ideal for sports as its hydrophobic (repelling water) in nature unlike cotton, which is hydrophilic (absorbing water). They have tweaked the jerseys to make it slightly hydrophilic on the inside and hydrophobic on the outside so as to facilitate efficient sweat evaporation,” says Rakesh. The texture of the stretchable cloth material is also softened a bit. Presently, distribution and delivery are carried out through vendor partnerships. The price range for jerseys starts from ₹ 400 per piece.

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The Revenue Model

The framework they follow for generating revenue is pretty much straightforward. They got funding from Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad and recognition from Kerala start-up mission in the initial stages of their venture itself. They have collaborated with various online delivery portals and hence a certain percentage of their profit will be the commission to these delivery channels.

Leads

Rakesh believes the most sought-after designs are for football jerseys, especially that come in bulk orders. “For many, sports are more than just an activity or entertainment. It is an emotion and a team’s jersey are a unifying factor. Just observe the number of Brazil and Argentina jerseys you can spot when soccer world cup fever grips Kerala,” he says with a laugh. He also notes with pride that Hyve provided tailor-made athletic wear, including jackets and tracksuits, for the Kerala State team during last year’s National Games.

Challenges

Reaching a point, where suddenly everything stops, is the main challenge in an any start up. Getting here was nothing of a cakewalk for the team. Rakesh said as a non-IT firm, starting a manufacturing unit in Kerala was a challenge, especially when hiring manpower and setting up infrastructure. Its takes a while for a support system to develop, but more doors opened as they grew.

What future beholds

Hyve plans to expand in B2B segment as well. The brand is also keen on tie-ups with leagues and clubs at the national level. Also, Hyve is due to launch their retail brand ‘Elk’ in a year. Taking it forward, Mr. Rakesh is also stitching an ambitious expansion plan to reach out to customers abroad too. The initial groundwork in Canada has already been laid and even started receiving orders. Malaysia and Singapore are next in the list. Hyve will completely revolutionize the sports-wear industry.

Written by
Romit Khandelia
PGDM 2019-21

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