The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2011 - issue > 25 Promising E-Commerce Companies

Alma Mater : Apparel and Memorabilia for Alumni and Students

ST Team
Thursday, June 9, 2011
ST Team
Two 22 year old friends were brought together by an idea, make sweatshirt with their schools name on them, and they decided to take it forward. They made sweatshirts with their school name, but decided not to stop there, went forward and did the same for many other schools and colleges. This is the story of Alma Mater, an online store providing apparel and memorabilia to alumni and students from schools and colleges across India. Founded by Varun Agarwal and Rohn Malhotra and based in Bangalore, Alma Mater presently has about 15 schools, three colleges and a sports brand as their members. India as a country is not known for its young entrepreneurs, a country where educational institutions teach youngsters to be employees and not employers, here, with Alma Mater, Agarwal and Malhotra stands apart.

Apart from the regular customers from the member institutions, people who are not from any member institutions can buy customized products from the company’s webpage. About 30000 to 40000 students have bought customized products from the company so far, 3000 to 4000 sales a month is the present average. By providing well designed quality products the company has created a niche space and became a well know brand name in the markets it is operational in. “By providing high quality, well designed products and with our highly effective marketing strategy we managed to stay ahead of the competition that we have in this space,” says Agarwal.

This young company knows the power social media holds in its target customers and leverages this to its advantage. It uses Facebook for reaching out to the target customers. “We have an extensive Facebook page; we have more than 18000 fans in it. We also give ads in school alumni pages in Facebook,” says Agarwal. Apart from this social media marketing the company also uses Facebook Ads and radio marketing. Still, according to the founders, it’s Facebook that gives them the necessary boost they need to go ahead. Apart from the campaign and the products that attract the students, the company has a business model that is structured to attract the institutions. Every time a student from a member institution buys a product from Alma Mater, the institution gets royalty.

The founders seem to have big plans for the company. They are in the process of closing deals with many of the top institutions in the country along with the IITs. “We are trying to get as many schools and colleges as we can as our members, and our priority are to have all the tops schools and colleges in the country as our members,” adds Agarwal. The company is on the verge of closing its initial round of funding and are planning to use this to expand their team and reach.

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