Like all good ideas, this one, too, was born in a bar. In late 2009, Bishop Cotton’s Bengaluru-based alumni Varun Agarwal and Rohan Malhotra were mercilessly ribbed by the former’s cousin for being not hip enough to have a school branded T-shirt. A few drinks and some brainstorming lead the 22-year-olds to the idea of getting the T-shirts made for themselves. Sales to other Bishop Cotton alumni followed. And then, through word of mouth, others started approaching them to do the same for their schools.
And Alma Mater was born. Agarwal and Malhotra invested Rs.1 lakh each and started a website to manage the front-end and take orders. Today, they have a turnover of Rs.2 crore and 800 schools and colleges as clients across India, including the likes of Bishop Cotton Bengaluru, several IITs and IIMs. Products include T-shirts, hoodies, caps, mugs and bumper stickers.
“We have two business models now. One, where we take official permission from a school or college for its merchandise and second, where anyone can approach us to have stuff made for his class, batch, group or anything he has affinity with,” says Agarwal. Now, the duo is expecting to get funds from Indian Angels Network, he adds. This will be used to scale and grow the business further.