Napolean Hill believed that “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle” and ‘The Perfect Black’ is an example of just that.
As the name suggests, The Perfect Black sells all things Black. Anurag Kanoongo after struggling to get premium black t-shirts and shirts without breaking a bank decided to take matter into his own hands. He along with his wife Shikha started the startup ‘The Perfect Black’ where they only sell premium black clothing and accessories.
They believe that for many people out there, black is their go-to colour and instead of searching through several stores or sites for that one black attire, customers would rather come to their website every time they need one – a basic Black Tee or a casual Black shirt and more.
The idea of The Perfect Black is to help people focus on what exactly matters to them, simplifying people’s lives in the smallest way possible.
Well, Anurag & Shikha believe that BLACK is a Color of Comfort, Convenience, and Power. Black is the only color that makes each body-type look beautiful as it appeals to any skin tone, height & age and gives confidence to the person who wears it. It is a colour which you can wear on almost any occasion. As Anurag says, “When in Doubt, Wear BLACK.”
Challenges faced during the initial phase of a startup?
When asked about the challenges that they faced, Anurag mentions that right from the ideation stage, the challenges were staring both him and Shikha in the face. While the idea of creating only BLACK color lifestyle products was exciting but both of them had no experience of creating clothes and accessories. Anurag mentions the top challenges:
- Defining the technical specs of your product
“When we decided to start with creating a premium quality solid black t-shirt the first challenge was to define “Premium” What should be the fabric like in terms of its composition, GSM, treatment, etc. What should be the measurement chart? What should be branding and packaging like? Figuring out answers to all of these with no technical expertise available was tricky.”
- Finding the right manufacturing partner
“This was the most challenging and crucial part. Finding the right manufacturing partners was not easy. When you are looking to create premium quality products, you need to partner with setups who have the know-how, skillset, and technology to create premium quality. The first few meetings were very difficult, and seeking time as well as the attention of the promoters of big manufacturing companies was a task. The discussions in the initial meetings were difficult to comprehend since they would speak in a lingo which was loaded with a lot of technical terms of that industry.”
- Meeting the MOQ requirements
“Bigger and better manufacturing units are only willing to work with you when you can commit big numbers, the challenge was to negotiate the MOQ or Minimum Order Quantity. When you are bootstrapped, you are always short on funds and it is difficult to risk your money with a large amount of inventories. Also, the per-unit cost goes higher if the quantities are less, making it difficult to launch your products at an attractive price point”
- Performance Pressure
“While our families were largely supportive of our decision to quit a double-digit salary and get into unknown waters, their worries started to build when months passed by and still there was no product in hand. Since we were obsessed with the idea of creating premium quality products, we were not willing to cut corners on anything, even if that resulted in a longer duration of product engineering & manufacturing. We witnessed, days when there were heated arguments, disappointment and doubts on what we were doing and if we were doing it right”
- Low on Marketing Budgets
“Once the products were ready and inventory was received in our warehouse marketing ourselves online was a challenge in terms of our capacity to spend on Branding & Advertising. The Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC is very high in the initial days and it can exhaust your wallet really fast”
While they were surrounded by a lot of challenges, for them it was like delivering a baby! You take care of the child no matter what and bring them to the real world!
What are the hurdles in front of you on a daily basis when you run a startup?
“Since we are self-funded, thankfully we are not answerable to anyone else on a daily basis. However, the real challenge lies in being self-motivated to do better every single day. The beauty of being a start-up founder is that you have got to find a solution to a new problem every single day. For us, time management is the trickiest bit. You have to make time for handling production issues, speaking to your vendors and partners, writing content for a website, social media marketing, making cold calls for business development, follow-up with your team members and agencies, etc., maintaining accounts, and yes cleaning up your office on days when your maid is absent and much more…”
If given a chance to go for another startup what are the learnings that you will take from the mistakes of your previous venture?
Anurag recalls what they would have done differently. Here are a few things:
“I have learned it the hard way that even though you are paying people for their services you need to do constant follow-ups to ensure your work happens on schedule.”
- Meeting More & More People
“Meeting people and engaging yourself in meaningful discussions and deliberations helps a lot to come up with solutions. I would like to do this much more.”
- Keeping Track of Compliances
“I will be honest here, I have paid a late fee for missing out on ROC related compliances. No matter how much you may dislike investing time into maintaining records, accounts, and filing up, these need to be done on time and the penalties on missing out deadlines are heavy. So the next time, I would not let my hard-earned money get wasted in paying penalties, although I really wish that the compliances are reduced for startups so that they can focus more on creating great products and services.”
Where do you think you and your startup is going to be in the coming future?
“We started THE PERFECT BLACK with 3 products in the men’s category and then added another 2 products last year. In the next 2 years, we aim to expand our product range rapidly. We are working on launching the women category followed by accessories. The idea is to complete the list of essentials for both men and women.
Our Vision is to become a brand which is everyone’s first choice to buy BLACK color clothing and accessories from. We want to create products that truly deliver the right value for the time & money invested by the end-user. Check out www.theperfectblack.in.
To read about the founders of The Perfect Black and their stories in detail, click here.