IAN invests in Bangalore-based alumni merchandising site Alma Mater Store

30 Oct, 2012

Indian Angel Network (IAN) has invested an undisclosed amount in Alma Mater Store Pvt Ltd, the company that owns and operates, an alumni merchandising site. IAN's Ravindra Krishnappa, Joe Fernandes, Deependra Moitra and Rajiv Mehta led the investment round in the startup.

As part of the investment, Krishnappa and Fernandes will join the board of the company.

Rohn Malhotra, co-founder, Alma Mater, said, "We will use the investment primarily for marketing, infrastructure and hiring. We plan to improve our technology focus so that we can operate on a bigger scale and hire the right talent." The company has a team of 15 people (including the founders) and it plans to increase this number to 30 in the next 4-5 months.

The Bangalore-based startup was founded by Varun Agarwal and Malhotra in August 2009 and the site went live the same year in November. Having started off with the intention of creating and online brand for official school and college merchandise, seeing a vacuum, the startup quickly morphed into a customised merchandise brand. The company claims to have supplied products to over 500 educational institutions spread over more than 60 cities. The primary offerings of the brand are customised merchandise for colleges, schools and corporates and online memorabilia store for colleges and schools.

"Alma Mater's focus is to establish itself as the go-to brand in the customised merchandise space, which, to date, remains highly fragmented and dependent on local players," said Fernandes.

The company claims to have grown at 300 per cent year-on-year and in the last few months, it has seen significant growth in Tier II and III cities. Currently, the company has tied up with more than 30 colleges and schools and is looking to double this number in the next few months. On an average, the site is receiving 150 orders for customised merchandise on a monthly basis, Agarwal said. While 75 per cent of this is from college/school students, the remaining is from corporates (like Google India) and small groups (like a martial arts class or a poker group, etc.).

For logistics, the company has tied up with Aramex and Blue Dart, along with smaller local players (for areas like the North East and the South). The company has also received orders for customised merchandise from six locations outside India including Estonia, Dubai and Germany, Agarwal said.

This investment in Alma Mater takes IAN's total number of investments this year to 13. This year, IAN has already invested Rs 2 crore in Mumbai-based tech startup Birds Eye Systems Pvt Ltd, a company specialising in intelligent traffic monitoring solutions; Rs 3.25 crore in Mumbai-based Peel-Works, a Cloud-enabled sales force transformation and BPO firm; around $1 million in Gamiana Digital Gaming Pvt Ltd, a three-year-old Mumbai-based digital gaming startup and $0.5 million in Chennai-based, a hotel booking site.

Other investments this year include undisclosed amounts in (along with Harvard Angels & Orios Ventures), an online lingerie site owned and operated by MTC Ecom Pvt Ltd; Unbxd, an in-site search provider; Mumbai-based quick service restaurant Poncho; Bangalore-based social gaming startup HashCube Technologies Pvt Ltd and Aurus Network Infotech Pvt Ltd, a cloud-based SaaS solutions company for lecture capturing and publishing.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)