We talked to Sumanth Cheedella of Drapezy about digital draping during COVID-19 times.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sumanth Cheedella: We are doing well. We are ensuring to stay indoors as much as possible in order to take care of our health.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Drapezy.
Sumanth Cheedella: I am a tech product guy turned the first-time Entrepreneur. Prior to Drapezy, I worked for early-stage startups to large corporates. I have been fortunate to be a part of launching multiple products in the eCommerce & fintech space.
I just happened to meet my co-founder, Giriraj AR, after a very long time. He was my ex-colleague in a fintech startup that I worked at earlier. During this catch-up in a coffee shop, he casually demonstrated a rough prototype that can convert (digitally-drape) a saree (women ethnic wear category in India) using the product photo shots to a fashion model image.
The idea grabbed my attention quickly because I had witnessed the challenges with a traditional model photoshoot to arrange the product catalog images. A few more focused conversations on this thread led to the formation of Drapezy – draping made easy, digitally #DigitalDraping.
How does Drapezy innovate?
Sumanth Cheedella: Drapezy is an early-stage AI startup offering on-model, catalog images of fashion merchandise for small & medium-sized online apparel sellers – the SaaS way on mobile.
With our digital-draping, SaaS product, these small & medium-sized sellers across small towns who do not have access to the expensive & laborious model photoshoot resources can now arrange their catalog images using their mobile phone within a day or two and with minimal effort & cost #DigitalDraping.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sumanth Cheedella: As we mentioned, we are an early-stage startup. After a rigorous product / market-fit period, we launched our MVP in early Oct 2019 to kick start our early sales. In a span of a few months, COVID19 hit the market. Fortunately, our product started to enable the customers to start selling their products online – be it on their own eCommerce websites or marketplaces.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sumanth Cheedella: Yes, of course. Like any other early-stage, non-funded startup, we frequently hit upon scarcity of time & working capital – the catch22 kind of a situation.
This slows us down towards building a scalable product that can easily take our business to the next level. Such situations make us be – 1. extremely frugal – a level where most of us would have never been used to in our lives & 2. ruthlessly prioritize – a situation where we have multiple, high-priority things to do in parallel but, we don’t get to do & hence, we end up prioritizing them further.
We also end up doing the tiniest of the tiny things ourselves without / minimal hiring – be it a temporary or permanent staff. Often, we feel that we could have been 2x or 3x times more productive.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Sumanth Cheedella: Pragmatic planning, prioritization, execution & expectation-setting with relevant stakeholders helps to deal with stress & anxiety. In addition, continuous learning to gain knowledge in the areas that require for the future running of the business is a proactive way to deal with stress & anxiety.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sumanth Cheedella: Our startup’s idea in our target market is still new and requires a lot of product evolution and adoption. Keeping this in perspective, our biggest competitor would still be the traditional way of the model photoshoot. In addition, we have another tech player in this space – Tri3D.
Your final thoughts?
Sumanth Cheedella: So far, we are able to survive and swim through the COVID-19 times. We are feeling confident & optimistic about the growth of our startup. Our gratitude is to all our customers and heartfelt thanks to our family and friends who have been supportive to us – morally and, at times, financially.
Thank you so much, Startup.info, for giving us an opportunity to write about us.
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