By Anusha Ashwin Can you imagine your T-shirt transforming into a wearable that speaks your mind? Yes, it is possible. And, we have a company right here in India that is doing pioneering work in Fashion Wearbles.
Five month-old startup Broadcast Wear, founded by serial entrepreneur Ayyappa Nagubandi in Hyderabad, Telangana, is integrating technology in the lives of people to help them express themselves better. Nagubandi is an entrepreneur, and an inventor. He has invented and authored 12 patents over the years. He has about 17 years of experience in different functions across various industry verticals and with core competence in incubating and growing start-ups.
Growing up in a family of limited means Nagubandi’s first job after graduation was that of a help desk executive for Satyam Computer Services, an IT company. Instead of being content with what he had achieved until then, he started learning about web technologies and the Internet. The management at Satyam noticed his dedication, hard work and introduced him to the world of web designing. His assignments took him across the globe and gave him an opportunity to work at The World Bank.
Later in 2005, he founded NowPos with a patented technology. He was featured in CNBC Young Turks for his success story. He managed to raise multiple rounds of funding from Angel Investors/HNIs and grew the company successfully till 2011 and exited.
Nagubandi then established two companies – Possibillion Software Technologies Pvt Ltd and in early 2016 Broadcast Wearables Pvt Ltd. Possibillion is a services and products company, while Broadcast Wearables is a fashion technology company.
The touch-enabled T-shirt
Nagubandi was convinced that Broadcast Wear will bring technology in the lives of people to help them express themselves better. Introducing his innovation, he says, “There are ways people use to express themselves, but not everything can be translated into words. This T-shirt helps people say a lot without saying a lot! In addition, this is the world’s first touch-enabled T-shirt, which lets people change the design and the slogan on their T-shirt with a flick on the logo! We, at Broadcast, are a bunch of technology enthusiasts who love trying out new things. As engineers, we strive to come up with new ways to make people’s lives better, to integrate technology into everyday things. And that is why we created the Broadcast T-Shirt – a new paradigm in the world of technology and fashion. We realized that, while wearables are ruling the market, not much has been done to integrate technology with apparel.”
“The world of technology has always been fascinating. Innovations that we could never have thought possible a few years ago are making a significant difference in the lives of people. At Broadcast, we wanted to create something that would help people express and we wanted to bring in technology to the most basic, and untouched, part of people’s daily lives i.e. the clothes that they wear. This helped us create this wearable T-shirt,” says Nagubandi.
“We love T-shirts with slogans. Sometimes, we go hunting for T-shirts with brilliant slogans to let the world know our thoughts. But, there are times when we think of some really catchy slogans, but have no means of putting them on a T-shirt,” says Nagubandi. This significant real time observation probably helped Nagubandi roll a business out of his vision.
The Broadcast T-shirt makes it possible for the user to wear his/her thought for the day on the T-shirt. It lets the user change the slogan on the T-shirt as many times as he/she wants to. Its proprietary algorithm makes it possible for the user to change the slogan with one flick on the T-shirt’s logo. The slogans or designs can be saved and can be used later. Also, one can also browse through the slogans and designs posted by fellow Broadcast users and select the one the user wants.
Broadcast Wear looks like a regular T-shirt until one decides to unleash its tech-enabled powers. This programmable T-shirt allows the user to say something new every moment. Using a simple smartphone app, waterproof LEDs and a smartly-designed program allows regular cotton T-shirts to display pictures, text, and whatever else on one’s mind. The T-shirt features thin LEDs for display and a small microcontroller with a battery. The smartphone would wirelessly connect to the shirt’s built-in microcontroller and send information to be displayed. Additionally, users have the advantage of saving their images/slogans in the company’s Broadcast app library, and use it whenever there is a need. This technology simply means multiple designs, multiple sayings for a single T-shirt!
Banking on Indiegogo response
Nagubandi raised small amount of money from friends and family members for this venture. “We are working on some revolutionary ideas. We want to raise capital and are looking for like-minded investors. Our business model is based on e–commerce. We are running a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds. Once the campaign is over, we plan to sell the product online,” he says.
Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding website founded in 2008 by Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, California. The site is one of the first sites to offer crowd funding. Indiegogo allows people to solicit funds for an idea, charity, or start-up business. Indiegogo charges a 5% fee on contributions. The site’s market is anyone who has an idea and wants to raise funds to finance their goal. Fifteen million people from all around the world visit the site on a monthly basis.
Broadcast Wear’s campaign on Indiegogo will gauge the response and will see how people react to Nagubandi’s product. “This is real market research. We need public support to buy our product so that we can go to production and make this dream a reality. With people’s support and backing on this campaign, we plan to manufacture Broadcast T-shirt on a large scale. This means, it will reduce the cost of production, and will also reduce the cost of the T-shirt. Every backer is special, and every support counts for us at this moment,” says Nagubandi.
With a two-pronged marketing strategy in mind, Nagubandi plans to have a number of anchor stores in major cities across the globe as offline sales, while not losing focus on online sales.
“We plan to float online advertisements on major search engines and social media platforms to attract new customers and retain the existing ones. We also plan to venture into offline advertising to attract people to the anchor stores,” outlines Nagubandi.
Bullish on his innovation, Nagubandi says, “We have pre-orders worth about $91,000. The campaign will end on July 6th and we are doing that is possible to encourage users to buy our t-shirts and increase the goal. The bill of materials is almost frozen and we are now creating the machines that create the LED panel. This is the first time someone has created a t-shirt like this so there are no ready-made machines that we can use. We are creating the machines that can automate the manufacturing of our t-shirt. We have received a lot of feedback and I have received requests to integrate Twitter and display the live feed on the user’s t-shirt. We are developing this module.”
Currently, Broadcast Wear has not partnered with any e-commerce portals. The company is banking on the campaign launched on www.indiegogo.com, where users can pre-order the T-shirts. It is certainly going to be a wait and watch for this startup. Once launched, the company promises to attract the young affluent generation to wear their thoughts.
Outlining the future, Nagubandi says, “We intend to build a community and engage our users and develop the features requested by our users. As the company grows, we envisage a future where Broadcast Wear will be an integral part of men and women’s fashion. Once we are convinced with our success, we plan to foray into technology-enabled accessories, footwear, headgear, and various other items of clothing.”