From Wild to Thoroughbred: Polofactory Will Convert You into Fashionable Polo Lovers
The champagne and money flows here. Only the thoroughbreds and the sinewy of muscle are admitted. Polofactory brings you all the glamor and luxury of the sport of polo.
Photo Credit : Cotswold Style,
One of the most well know polo fashion brands on earth is U.S. Polo Assn. It’s the official brand of the United States Polo Association (USPA), the national governing agency of American polo. The global revenue from the polo brand is in excess of 1 billion dollars. In India, the brand is expected to touch rupees 1000 crore in gross revenue for 2017-2018.
So yes, polo fashion is highly lucrative.
It’s one reason why we think this startup luxury fashion brand and polo gear supplier from Jaipur has a good chance rising to be the best on show.
Here are the Polofactory founders Jai Singh and Vikramaditya Barkana talking about their business centered around one of the most expensive sports on earth.
Why did you decide to found this venture?
We had the concept in late 2010 and launched the venture in 2012. We're two co-founders - Jai Singh and Vikramaditya Singh Barkana.
Of course we know your startup is different because it’s not every day we come across a startup on these graceful four legged creatures and polo fashion.
But do share with us what’s special about this venture and how it’s different from its competitors?
Dedicated to polo and horses, Polofactory was established in Jaipur in 2012 to manufacture polo equipment and luxury lifestyle merchandise that is inspired by horses and polo. The brand’s luxury lifestyle merchandise includes clothing, accessories and luggage. Polofactory today caters to different polo clubs, teams and patrons and also organises polo holidays across UK, New Zealand, Argentina and India. The team also provides consulting support on team management, tournament organisation, off-site polo events and polo infrastructure development.
Polofactory is a unique concept, it’s a one stop shop for anything and everything related to polo and horses. There are many brands out there that are inspired by polo and horses but none of them have a core team that actually is living and working with horses morning day and night. This genuineness sets us apart.
How did you manage to fund this idea?
We will eventually seek venture capital.
For now it’s privately funded. In the beginning we worked hard to keep our overheads low and were understaffed. While keeping a check on expenses and overheads made us feel in control, under-staffing did cost us time, and we suppose we could've grown much faster had it not been for that particular sticky spot.
Tell us how the business has grown so far
We have clocked a revenue growth of 25x since inception. From supplying to 10 clients in 2012-13, now in 2016-17, Polofactory supplies to over 15 countries including UK, Zambia, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, Kuwait, Kenya and Qatar.
Polofactory supplies equipment to over 400 horses and to over a 100 players. We are proud to say we also serve almost all leading Indian polo professionals like Shamsheer Ali, Lokendra Ghanerao, Simran Shergill, Abhimanyu Pathak, Gaurav Sahgal and Uday Kalaan.
Last year we let out our first franchise store in Sydney. In two months, we will have a similar franchise arrangement in the UK. We have also tied up as the official polo gear and merchandise partners to the University of London Polo Club. The current revenue model is a mix of direct online retail and wholesale supply to teams, clubs and stores.
What marketing strategies and plans are in place to grow the business?
We sponsor or collaborate with most polo events in the country. You'll find Polofactory's branding wherever there is polo in India. This forms the base content for our advertising. Besides this, we trust in digital marketing a lot and have seen its impact on our growth. Our concept is interesting and that gets us good media too.
Our focus now is to achieve better global presence. We work hard to be more accessible to customers across the globe. The team intends to emphasise more on direct retail - online and offline and eventually distribute as a mono brand concept store that works on the franchise model. Such stores would be one-stop shops for the best in polo – equipment, fashion and services. Our current website is modelled on this idea. We are working hard on expanding our product range and on increasing the brand's visibility to move to this model. On the polo front we want to collaborate, provide support, co-brand with the biggest polo events in the world.
We see royalty from Britain, Sheikhs from Dubai and the filthy rich in general engage in polo. So we are curious, what is the market size and opportunity?
Polo is a niche sport and is far different from most other sports when you consider the infrastructure needed to play it. To bring this into perspective - to play football you need boots, ball and a ground. Right? To play polo you need about at least four highly trained horses that require about 30 pieces of equipment, then you need player gear, grooms, oh, and also well-built stables. The list is endless. It’s a lifestyle more than a sport.
And polo is played on every continent in the world, barring Antarctica. So the market is huge and rich and competition is low.
Our lifestyle merchandise does not require you to be a polo player or a horseman but fashionable and stylish. The market here is much wider.
Any challenges faced setting up? Anything unique to your situation?
We found it extremely difficult to convince artisans to work in a particular way, to stick to the design given, and use the best leather, quality threads, rivets and other raw materials. We would reject most of what was made. Most people kept suggesting that we needed to cut a few corners, else the final product would be too expensive and no one would buy it. There was some truth in what was said, as the cost of making our products turned out to be three times higher. Thus, our final product cost much higher than what people were used to paying. However, we were sure that the quality and durability wasn’t something customers were willing to compromise on and our clients loved the quality and were more than willing to pay a higher price.
[We saw some scarves and boxer shorts for a 1000 rupees – the best way to describe pricing is “affordable luxury”]
Share with us some best and worst memories while running the business
The best memories have to be of the travelling we have done for our work. We've been around the world and interacted with the top brass in polo. Their tips and advice on building our polo brand has helped us evolve our products to be fit for equestrian royalty.
Worst memories are order mess-ups!
[When it’s buying gear to handle a live animal we can only imagine how messy it can get!]
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