In conversation with a young and enthusiastic entrepreneur, Mr. Harshit Bapna, Founder, AIO.
- Tell us about your brand, what is it about?
AIO Sports was formed with vision to create quality sports wear which is customized to take care of one’s needs and at the same time is affordable for all. We believe fitness is for everyone and with our special dedicated designs and best in class fabric we aim to enable the sports person to deliver best in their field as we say #NEVER STOP.
The brand AIO stands for All In One, implying one stop destination for all the fitness enthusiast. We are professional sports wear supplier, distributor and also import/export company; specializing in all kinds of customized sports apparels providing high quality custom sportswear.
- What was the idea, design thinking behind the concept of the brand?
To start with, I am very thankful to my parents for their immense support and trust they have on me. It gave me courage as a fresh college graduate to leave my campus placement offer and start and pursue my dream.
I am a Textile Engineer and also a sports enthusiast. The sports sector is majorly dominated by big international giants and also the quality sportswear supplied by these companies are super expensive to be accessible for all brilliant budding sports person in our country.
I took it as a challenge and opportunity to create quality brand which can serve the need of our fitness lovers across all sports and designed for all age groups. With this vision in my mind, first step was to find team with complementary competencies to make this happen. Having B.Tech in Textile Engineering I have good knowledge of fabric and manufacturing and we started with small team of 3-4 young, agile and passionate people.
We had national level player in our team to guide on special requirements for different sports, Industry expert to help us find best in class vendors for all required fabric, designer who with his fantastic designs can add personality to the sports wear for you and your team. Complementing them I took care of manufacturing. Without an MBA degree, I learned sales and Marketing fundas with networking, and trust me on the job training is best degree.
I am very proud to say that we have now our own manufacturing set-up with 35+ employees and independent teams working on logistics, designing, printing and manufacturing. Within a very short time of 2 years, we have delivered our products to 100000+ customers in India aswell as oversees. Our consumers are very happy with our products and services and majority of them come back with orders which is very motivating and rewarding for us. We aim to build long term relationship with all our customers and stand by our commitment to provide high quality products.
Strategy is to remain proactive, non-traditional and customize supply chain solutions for our customers. We treat customers’ IPs highly confidential and take an integrated approach to serve customers’ needs from concept to distribution.
We stand out to be an iconic vendor in the sports goods industry with broad product categories, and best quality to meet the demands of our customers. As a responsible corporate citizen and supplier, we welcome every opportunity to partner with global companies and customers without limiting ourselves the form of collaboration.
- What are the product categories under the brand?
Sports Jersey’s , shorts, lower, caps, tracksuits, gym wear, socks, tights, corporate wear, wrestling wear, cotton t-shirts-with all more than 200+ patterns, and 10000+ ready customized designs.
- What are the fabrics used?
Knitted fabrics, jersey fabric, ribbed knit, lycra – spandex-cotton knit, terry knit, fleece, interlock knit.
- What were the challenges that the brand faced during COVID-19 and how are situations improving right now?
2020 was indeed a challenging year for us and as in case with every other small start-up we were hit in the beginning where physical orders were very limited. No one has previously experienced such time and how best to handle the situation.
However, we utilized the time to strategize and equip ourselves to be ready as soon as we can resume in safe way. The logistics was hit significantly and there were challenges in getting the raw material on time. I am very fortunate to have extremely supporting team and even with delays in getting the fabric we managed to deliver all the finished orders on time. We have made our location very safe to work with all proper measures on hygiene, sanitization and distancing and have been operating very efficiently.
- There has been a surge in demand for sportswear and leisurewear during COVID-19, what are your observations on the same?
Surely there has been surge in sportswear and leisurewear too. Owing to work from home setup and also with increased awareness around fitness more than ever before, sports and fitness section is ought to grow.
We have also been receiving more and more orders and I am very happy to see more people trying to get into fitness routine or some sports. We are proud to meet our consumer demands with our exciting product range.
- As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give our readers, which has worked best for you?
I am true believer of our tag line and this is the advice I also want to give our readers and all the entrepreneurs out there #NEVER STOP. You need to take some calculated risks and move forward. I started by journey just after the college with the idea and vision, you need to start, work diligently and consistently. Always be ethical in your work and motivate your team. For me my team is like an extended family to me and it’s always a team effort to make anything successful. Use your network, get your dream team formulated and then you will #NEVER STOP. Wishing all our readers a great start and successful journey in their business.