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In Conversation with Pankaj Vermani, Founder & CEO Clovia

Q1. Can you give us a gist about your academic and professional journey so far? The major challenges you have dealt with, so far?

Ans. I have pursued 5-year Integrated B.Tech/M.Tech in Computers Applications from IIT Delhi. My first (and the only) job was that of a regular software engineer with Global Logic. I joined there as a part of the initial team when the company was just about 30-40 people. Today Global Logic is over $2Bn in valuation and has over 12,000 employees globally.After working with Global Logic for around 1.5 years, I set up my first company with a bunch of friends which was acquired by Tribal Fusion Inc, California based company which was then the 4th largest Ad Network on the world. I started the India office of Tribal Fusion with my co-founders. Post that, I started another venture Vriti in eLearning. ​Prior to starting​ Clovia in 2012 and exiting Vriti, I​ set-up and headed an incubator for a Swiss fund in India for a short while.

As an entrepreneur, the real challenges are not around execution but around breaking your own myths/assumptions and learning/adapting fast from your experiences. You have to attune yourself to the customer every time, put yourself in their shoes and try and find solutions best suitable for them. While that worked in my other businesses, in Clovia, being a male, I had to initially struggle a lot to break the cliches and understand the consumer and their true challenges to build an empathetic product/brand. Having my wife as a co-founder sure helped.

Q2. 15 years of diverse experience as an investor and a founder, what would you quote, as your biggest achievement or proudest moment?
Ans. Our aim has always been to contribute to the Indian ecosystem. While a lot of our friends chose a life abroad, we decided to stick around and work towards the creation of value here. Very early on in Clovia, we decided to never source from outside the country and to ensure we make a world-class product within India. Today we have generated employment for over 2500 people. That sure is time well spent. 🙂

Also, I’ve seen a lot of successful entrepreneurs and CXOs coming out of the teams I’ve built in the past. Every time an old team member does well in life, its an extremely gratifying moment personally.

Q3. Since the Lingerie industry revolves around Women, what would your advice be to your core customers on climbing the corporate ladder in today’s times?

Ans. No separate advice. You are equal, you might have gotten it tougher with more expectations, then so be it. You are anyways smarter too 🙂 Take the challenge, crack hard. I’ve seen my co-founder/wife working till 5 min before delivering her child and back in office, within 14 days. Face your challenges, and have lots of fun along the way. Carpe Diem!

Q4. The Lingerie industry in India is growing rapidly, what is Clovia’s USP?

Ans. Clovia is a full stack lingerie brand, which controls every part of its supply chain from mind-to- wardrobe. We procure raw material, design in-house, manufacture in third-party facilities working exclusively for us, ensure our own 4 level quality controls and sell through a host of direct sale channels. Every product we create is first made in small quantities, monitored via a state-of-the-art backend technology, which predicts future sales (based on sales patterns and customer feedback) and recommends what further quantities should be produced. This leads to a true fast fashion brand that is low on cost (as the middlemen are cut out), high on consumer appeal (thanks to our 100+years of combined design experience in-house) and super efficient on inventory (we have the best inventory-to-sales ratio in the industry), leading to better margins and cash flows even in a high number of SKUs/Sizes business. So in short, Clovia is a brand which has been designed from every aspect – be it product or supply chain – only to understand consumer feedback and deliver its range accordingly. If we have our customer with us, we don’t need any other edge.. do we?

Q5. What is the most significant difference in the functioning of e-commerce players in an emerging and developed economy?

Ans. Even after all these years, we are in the early stage of e-commerce evolution here. The infra trails the growth and hence is the biggest bottleneck. There are still so many towns and cities in India which are clamoring for the right e-commerce infra. The eco-system is here to stay. The VC/PE capital coming in for last decade has helped the growth tremendously and will continue to do so for the next 7-10 years. So the opportunity is immense. It’s only a matter of time it catches up.

Rapid Fire

Q. If not Clovia, then what?

Professional Theater Actor/Director! It was my first love before the passion for business/value creation took over

Q. What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

Problem-solving. Break a big problem down to little pieces and nail it!

Q. Slow or Rock Music?

Rock!

Q. Best thing to indulge in when you are free?

Listening to music with my 5 years old (yes we share a 90’s rock playlist :D)

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CEO Speaks

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