31 Mar 2017, 10:02 — 8 min read
Sometimes a seemingly mundane activity can spark a business idea. Shopping for shoes may not seem like a possible inspiration for a big business idea. However, that is exactly what happened to Raj TaTed when he was shopping in Ginza street in Tokyo for shoes, for a friend who had mismatched feet. Raj was turned away from various footwear brands since they did not provide different sizes for one pair of shoes. Intrigued, Raj did some research and found the market for custom-made shoes to be exorbitantly priced. Sensing a business opportunity, he partnered with his brother, Prit TaTed, and launched an online store that offers custom hand-crafted footwear under the company TaTed Lifetech Pvt Ltd. The rest as they say is history.
With a team of expert craftsmen, and a distribution network that spans at least ten countries, the brothers have a grand vision for their company. They are hoping to revolutionise the way people shop for footwear. Their goal is to make people realise that they can wear shoes that are made for them and not the assembly line products available in stores.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Raj TaTed (RT) shares what motivated him to start their company and his plans for the future.
GL: Tell us about your business.
RT: The idea for TaTed came when I was studying in Tokyo, for my post-graduation. A friend of mine was looking for a pair of shoes that fit his feet perfectly. While having a conversation with him, I understood that he has different sized feet: his left foot is a UK 6.5 and right foot is a UK 7; for me this was something new. We went to various retail brands on Ginza street, Tokyo, to try to meet his requirements, but we were disappointed when we realised no brands offered a pair of different sized shoes.
Someone told us to visit a custom-made shoe brand, so we went there. They told us that a pair of shoes would cost anything between $350-500, which was much too expensive.
That day, I went back and did extensive research to see if there are any brands which provide custom-made shoes in the price range of $200–250. To my surprise, I found that ready-to-wear dress shoes start from $180-250 with standard sizes, while all custom-made shoes start from $350 and above, depending on how established the brand is.
Here came my eureka moment. I came back to India told my dad that I don’t want to work in our family business and instead wanted to get into the custom-made shoe business. I had realised that shoes were my passion and now I had a problem which I could solve. At first my parents were both against it, since we are a Marwari Jain family & we are not allowed to have anything to do with a business related to leather or its affiliates. But I was keen on getting into it, and finally after few months, I managed to get approval from my father.
I bootstrapped the whole project, with support from my father. I thought of how to make our website so simple that even a toddler could buy on our site. I kept the terms simple like front, back, etc, so anyone could understand our 'Be Your Own Designer' window, without needing to use the industry jargon like vamp, quarter, inner lining etc.
With TaTed, designing your own shoes has never been easier. Our luxe proprietary 3D 360 degree technology enables customers of all ages to create their own unique shoes, which tell their own stories. The entire process, from the art of crafting the goodyear welt shoe, to the packaging of the shoe box, along with a monogram on it; every step of the process is handcrafted by an artist who for four generations has been in shoe making. We made it simple: Select your shoe model, choose from the rich variety of leathers, upload an image, add your own name to it and make your own unique footprints.
Disrupting the overpriced custom-made and ready-to-wear shoe industry, we provide the customer with the ability to decide the construction requirement, and create their designs with goodyear welted construction or blake stitch construction, keeping the shoe price from $180- 250 for handcrafted custom-made ‘TaTeds’. We also reduced the delivery time to 2-4 weeks, and created a pre-order section for sneakers and other types of shoes, which are usually overpriced and out of reach for millennials.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
RT: In the beginning, we faced issues with the supply chain, logistics, people management and operations. Not having expertise in tech, we faced issues with the website and e-commerce business management. We went from not knowing anything about social media to growing now with the help of social media.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
RT: We gave a lot of thought to how we can be different from others. And here comes the value for money component; from the shoe to the shoe box, everything is handcrafted, even the customer’s monogram for the shoe box. To get a smile on our customer's face, we have added feature like the fact that they can put their name on the product, which makes our customers feel unique and special.
We disrupt the traditional chain and supply directly to the customers providing luxury.
To turn the customer in to a designer, we let our consumers design their own unique foot prints. This makes TaTed designs more amazing and one-of-a-kind. TaTed makes designing the shoe, selecting the shoe model, selecting everything from the hues to innersole and having your monogram on it so natural, you might forget there's incredible technology under your fingers.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
RT: At the moment, we're exporting worldwide. We also believe in giving back to society, so for every pair of TaTed you buy there will be another shoe given to a child in need, under the initiative, 'Own a Pair, Give a Pair'. We also provide free shipping worldwide.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
RT: Everyone knows today that your worth is in your network and GlobalLinker helps you to build your network to build your net worth.
GL: What is your big business dream?
RT: Until now customers used to go to retail stores and buy the shoes that the shopkeeper wanted to sell. This means they keep few models of their shoes, with three to four colours and you get to select one out of them. But now TaTed wants to disrupt the system. You buy what you actually need and not what they want to sell to you. Our exclusive 'Made To Order' section lets you design the type of shoe that you want, as far as you can imagine it and then we will handcraft it for you.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
RT: Believe in yourself and be ready to walk alone. Every morning wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "Yes, I can."
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.
Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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