It was almost four days since I had been brainstorming for an idea to write an article in business section and I came up with absolutely nothing! I then decided to go for shopping, the ultimate stress buster. As I was walking the busy streets of Pune, I came across quite an old man on cycle wearing a t-shirt that flaunted its school’s name. It reminded me of a website I came across when we were planning for sweatshirts during our last year of school.
Alma Mater, a Bangalore based company-selling apparel and memorabilia to schools and colleges across the nation came into existence in 2009. The hottest thing on their menu is the customized hoodies and t-shirts. Their other products include zippers, polo’s and accessories. Alma Mater store arranges for a wide variety of sweatshirts and t-shirts that fall into broad categories like IT, engineering, geek, art, school days, social media and so on. The success story of Alma is noteworthy one. The most fascinating feature of their website is the ‘Play’ section. You actually get to choose the color, types, fonts, images and graffiti you want on your product and let your creativity loose. The prices are very affordable and bulk offers get you discount. The company also provides a sample piece delivered to your doorstep keeping in mind customer’s psyche. The company has worked in more than 160 cities and has ties with more than 2000 prestigious institutions including IIT Chennai, IMT, St. Paul’s, Miranda House and many such others. Its Facebook page has more than four lakhs followers! Alma Mater today has more 65 employees working tirelessly to ensure only best of the products reach its clients. If statistics do not speak than 15,000, satisfied customers surely do…
The story of how Alma Mater came into existence is very Bollywood-ish. Two friends, Varun Agarwal and Rohan Malhotra, aged only 24 at the time were drinking at one of the oldest pubs in Bangalore Noon Wines recalling the ‘good ‘ol days’ when under the influence of Kingfisher beer the idea struck them. The idea was very simple- to have a hoodie designed with their school name printed on it. As the night progressed, the idea took form of a business plan on piece of tissue paper. Moreover, as the story goes on, a week later they found themselves in Tirupur or also known as T-shirt capital of India. However, the initial years were full of struggles. With only two sweatshirts on their back serving as sample, they trotted from school to school, convincing principals and authorities to make their first sale. Even their own parents considered them as T-shirt salesman up to the point they were featured on Economic Times. The preliminary loss, pain and tussles were soon put behind as the company thrived in success and glory. In 2011, just two years after it was established exhibited growth rate of 300%. For the company, compromising on quality is an absolute no-go and customer satisfaction is priority umro uno. With groundbreaking tactics and advertising through FB the company has surely come a long way. Varun Agarwal a passionate storyteller penned a book “How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-founded A Million Dollar Company” describing this filmy tale. The book was an instant hit with the youngsters and sold more than 50,000 copies in just six months. According to these boys, school days bring some of the very nostalgic memories and are a part of what they have come to be. This passion and dedication inspired them to wear their school name proudly across their chest and became the core of Alma Mater.
Today, Alma Mater is been showcased on more than 35 magazines and newspapers including big names like The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, India Today, Inc. India, The New York Times and Economic Times. Two entrepreneurs who came with capital of only 1 lakh in their pocket and no prior business experience have paved a way on their own and our today, handling a company with net worth of more than 15crores. The story of Alma Mater is of course very inspiring when it comes to taking that big leap in achieving your dream and is almost too good to be true. Varun Agarwal, the co-founder of Alma Mater was been rightly quoted as saying ‘Between the lines, it’s a story about achieving your dream and living it’.