Building a Rigidly Flexible Culture.

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Sourceasy has been a chain linked company since Day One. Rigid values coupled by flexible attitudes.

Sourceasy has 11 employees across 4 locations in India, and 2 employees in 1 location in USA. Moving forward, we’ll be adding 3 more to our team across 1 additional location in USA, and 3 more in 1 additional location in India. We’ll have decision makers in each location, who will be empowered to take operational calls at the right time and push the business forward. Our hierarchy is loosely coupled around rigid values. Customer success is paramount. Our relentless focus on productivity is complemented by our laidback attitude to work culture - Work from home, work from wherever.. Just get the work done.

Sourceasy’s platform is being built around an architecture that communicates using internal API calls between 4 different systems. Our systems are loosely coupled to ensure greater flexibility, speed and reliability. We’re able to scale up at a moments notice. Because we’re dealing with confidential, really valuable client data, we’re rigid about safety and data security, but we’re flexible about communication within the systems and have the coupling between servers to recover quickly. 

Our focus on a flexible adaptable seamless software experience is contrasted by our rigid need for Strong Customer Security, a great infrastructure, and robust processing.

Sourceasy’s vendors and customers are built around open, transparent, honest relationships. Our customers are offered unparalleled flexibility, both in terms of designs, and in terms of order quantities. Our vendors are offered great value in terms of capacity, price and scale. We are not beholden to any single vendor so we can rapidly shift business, scale up to meet demand, and/or scale back in case of lower demand.

We’re rigid on quality standards, vendor compliance, and have stern views on pilferage, bribery and design plagiarism, our supply chain is also loosely coupled to client demand and does not incur expensive fixed overheads.

Rigid values create our structure, but Flexible processes help us mould and adapt that structure to an ever changing business.

Thanks,

Pranay

Building a Global Apparel Manufacturing “Full Stack” Startup.

The co-founding team of Sourceasy (Now SourceEasy), met with a leading Indian Angel Investor today to discuss our business.

When we explained that we’re a “Full Stack Apparel Manufacturing” startup, he was intrigued by the term “Full Stack”. While this term seems to intuitively fit our business, we felt this needed some more explanation.

The term started with Marc Andreessen’s blog post at the Wall Streeet Journal about “Software eating the world” in 2011.

This described the rise of companies that chose to use software, technology and platforms not just to become marketplaces or listing directories, but to control the *ENTIRE* Customer Experience.

They chose to create vendors that delivered services and products under controlled conditions, either digitally or physically, and ensured that the customer received the desired experience rather than just pass the customer on to third parties these companies had NO CONTROL over.

In the true sense of the word, Sourceasy is a global company. We’re headquartered in New York, and yet all our products are manufactured, quality checked, and shipped from across the world - We manufacture in India and are setting up manufacturing in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Costa Rica and South Africa.

Our sales, our ops and finance are based in New York, but our coding, our development, and all our technology is built in Bangalore, in Hyderabad.

Andreessen’s article could be applied to companies like Uber, like Amazon, like Bonobos, like Square, like Fitbit, like Airbnb, like HomeJoy, like Nest chose to work on problems that are offline, hard, real world problems. Problems that software never could work with.

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But with mobile data, GPS, new OS’es like iOS and Android, New platforms like Facebook, with Analytics, with AWS and with tools and enabling technologies that help us replicate user behavior using Software, We can use software, the cloud and web tools to create amazingly elegant, scalable and usable solutions to streamline, solve and process real world problems.

Jeff Lawson delivered an amazing talk at the 500 Startups UnSexy Conference in 2013 - He says that We are All Software People. We carry a super computer in our pocket in the form of a cell phone. We use sensors to gather data, and actuators to spit out results and solutions through software that sits in the cloud, is intelligent, is SaaS and can be upgraded several times a day. 

Sourceasy is an UnSexy Company. We generate cashflow, we create revenue and we earn a profit on each transaction. Unit economics mirror real world businesses. We are not just a single point of software that has no relationship to the real world flow of information. We are innervating the entire supply chain of apparel manufacturing with both forward and backward integration. We are using Mobile data to re-create the entire production flow that creates apparel.

The term “Full Stack” was actually finally originally coined by Chris Dixon in this blog post on his blog in March 2014. He describes the difference between Vertically Integrated and Full Stack in the comments, and I quote:

I don’t think it’s vertically integrated in the classic sense. This isn’t oil company buying supplier. It’s a tech company building the complete experience including non tech parts. The end result looks more like a company that we wouldn’t call vertically integrated. E.g. Uber competes with taxi companies but I don’t think we’d call taxi companies vertically integrated.”

Sourceasy uses external vendors, does not own factories. Yet, we take on the liability of quality from our customer, and we take full responsibility for the production quality upfront.

We use technology to create the order, to negotiate price, to update comments, to track visibility through the manufacturing life cycle. We use software to control the operations and we report status to our customer transparently.

But we use our network of trusted vendors to produce the apparel, control the quality, at the right price to ship on time.

We also have offline operations to control this experience as well that uses software to report their progress.

We use technology to invoice our customer, and to monitor and resolve disputes.

There is no clear boundary where our offline operations commence and where our online technology ends. Its all interwoven into a hundred different moving parts.

And in the end it’s an execution game. Domain knowledge, embedded industry connections, driving adoption of software with great UX, and making big pain points magically go away for our customers.

Thats “Full Stack”. And Sourceasy is building this for the Global Market.

Many Thanks,

Pranay

What the Private Beta of Sourceasy will let you do

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Dear Users,

Since we asked you to sign up for Private Beta Access, we’ve received 139 signups. For a B2B textiles manufacturing service, that’s a lot. 

We thank you for being curious. 

During this time we’ve been busy. With our first limited beta release, we have a few specific objectives in mind:

The TECH PACK is the Atomic Unit of the Sourceasy Web App.

A Tech Pack is the information document for a style. All the specifications, the construction, the decorations, the colors, the packing and the accessories / trims are described in this document. 

We will build every single aspect of our application, our business, our communication, our coordination and our messaging around the Tech Pack.

In many cases, portions of this techpack may be invisible to the customer. This is because we’ll be setting up templates with pre-filled parts of the template with inputs that are standardised so it takes the guesswork out of creating an order. 

At www.sourceasy.us we’ve created a 2 page checkout for your promotional / startup / event Tees / Hoodies requirements - Those are pre-filled tech packs that need the minimum basic input to complete your custom apparel order.

The Customer can control how advanced their designs can be.

Sourceasy is designed to be inclusive. not rigid. We welcome and work with veteran designers, experienced buyers and merchandisers, professional manufacturers, fashion experts, and high fashion gurus. 

But we also work with first time fashion designers; niche eCommerce brands; startup brands; startup founders who need apparel; event managers who need Tees on the fly; Hotel Operators / QSR managers who need to order uniforms. And they are not sophisticated apparel buyers. Yet, their production will need a tech pack as well.

So our product lets you fill and complete the tech pack to the best of your abilities. We’ll complete the rest and ensure your garments fit well. And are built to conform to international standards. 

You can build as many enquiries as you want.

Tinkering with a design idea? Trying to finalise your line? Need to build your line in stages? Designing from inspiration?

Sourceasy lets you build your techpack in stages, in parts, as and when you’re comfortable. If you need help, hit the “Help Me” button. We’ll reach out and proactively help you complete the tech pack.

We’re here to understand your business. And help you manufacture clothing in a sustainable, easy, cost effective manner. 

We’re not perfect. We seek your feedback

If something’s broken, or not working, please tell us. Yell at us. Get angry with us. Offer us brutally honest feedback. We’ll do everything we can to resolve the issues. To delight you.

I look forward to welcoming you to our platform. 

Very Soon. Thanks for your patience.

- Pranay Srinivasan

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Sourceasy is looking for a Head of Operations / Support in India

sourceasy is looking for Head of Operations / Support, India - based in Mumbai / Delhi.

Must haves: 
- Strong Supply Chain / Operations Experience. Textile Experience a plus. 
- Reasonable Knowledge of Clothing, Apparel and Textiles. 
- Ability to work in a uncertain working environment. 
- Unprecedented ability to cut through bullshit. 
- Should be Customer’s Stakeholder in the business. That means taking no excuses.

- Be able to juggle Sourcing, Sales, Customers, Vendors and keep everyone happy.

- Support and Operations are the heart of our business operation. Owning the customer experience is imperative.

- Reasonably Tech Savvy: Run correspondence with customers, close deals, engage them during problems, source information from vendors, rigorously follow up for updates, diligently update status for customers.
- Resolve Disputes Amicably.

We offer decent survival salary, equity options and generous commissions. Yes, even to Support and Operations.
Write to pranay@sourceasy.co 
Thanks, 
Pranay

The reason we charge for sample development

A question we get asked a lot by designers is:

"Do you charge for sample development?"

Our Reply: Yes, we do.

The next question usually is:

"Why?"

The reason we charge for sample development, especially for custom made styles is because:

We need to develop patterns,and grade them; We need to source special fabrics, engage a cutting supervisor; We need to sew and finish a high quality sample, get it shipped to you; We need to work on the comments, feedback, and work on 1 iteration. 

All this takes a lot of effort. and time. and money. 

This is why we request a sample development fee.

Our sample fees are refunded on an order of $5000 or more in the ordered style.

Best Regards,

Pranay

Choosing an apparel vendor

The largest impediment to setting up a smooth, well-oiled sourcing supply chain for your brand is establishing a trustworthy relationship with a supplier.

No matter how awesome your styles are, how brilliant your fabrics are, and how ingenious your twist on apparel is, until you can find a sustainable, scalable, quality-conscious apparel manufacturer, your journey will be riddled with frustration.

Here are a few pointers to look for when choosing a vendor:

1. Scale of operation: If the supplier is a large factory, there is NO WAY in hell he will work with 24-48 units minimums. Worse still, if you’ve reached him through a trusted referral that he values, he will be polite to you, but will be chafing on the inside. All he’s thinking is “How do I get myself out of this entire situation so I dont have to produce these qtys but be nice without alienating my existing customer?”

2. Education / Experience: No supplier / factory is a miracle worker. Murphy’s law was built for the apparel business. No matter how huge your infrastructure is, it is tough to completely avoid quality errors, production delays, and potential technical roadblocks. The key to working through these with minimum stress is to verify if your supplier has a relevant Textiles Education and / or has significant experience in manufacturing apparel. If he has the chops, while communicating the problem to you, he’ll also suggest a few solutions.

3. Styles in production: If the factory / vendor is used to producing Women’s Underwear, asking them to produce a Womens Blazer or a Beach Dress is hara-kiri. Some apparel styles demand a technical focus, a strong attention to detail and specialised machinery. Verify if the factory has produced similar items before, before you ask them to produce the items. Often times, if the factory has not produced the item before, they’ll mis-quote you and end up not meeting their commitments.

4. Local presence / Financial Reciprocity: If the factory / vendor is overseas, stay cognizant of the financial risks associated with producing overseas. If you’re starting out, and are unsure of their capabilities, err on the side of caution. Start out with smaller qtys to test their abilities, and to secure your investment. Recourse with overseas vendors is almost non existent. If he ships you a substandard product, you’d be hard pressed to file a claim for refund on quality standards. Its too subjective to win off.

Best Regards,

Pranay

The Hard Part about Designing a Product by a Non Engineer

While sketching out the innards of the Sourceasy Sourcing Web App with Chirag (Sourceasy CTO - Follow him on twitter here), I realised the following is true of a Domain Expert building a software application:

1. What’s clear in your head is not necessarily clear on paper.

2. Expecting complex functions to be simplified needs a strong tech understanding.

3. Detailing outcomes is not necessarily cognizant of input difficulties.

4. Small nuances can potentially create major roadblocks.

5. Checks and balances create inter dependencies that can unravel with the crash of a single system.

6. Modular design is utopian. One can aspire though.

7. When the UX and the Customer Experience drives your roadmap, more often than not, you’ll end up picking holes in comfortable theories.

8. Asking questions is easier than finding answers.

9. A/B Testing is not for apps. It is for front end pages. Be clear about what you want as a function.

10. Create backdoors to scale / modify / adapt to change.

Best Regards,

Pranay

So What Exactly is Sourceasy?

Further to my previous post, I wish to further explain exactly we are building with Sourceasy.

Firstly, I’d like to say that almost all of my work and my focus revolves around making procurement / sourcing / merchandising / manufacturing easier. That’s my “Raison d’Etre”.

Sourceasy is a wholesale procurement / sourcing / manufacturing service that not only allows you to buy small quantities of apparel / home furnishings with custom labels but also manufactures, packs it, and delivers it to your doorstep.

We are building Sourceasy in 2 phases.

1st: Offline Phase. All of Year 2013.

Sourceasy was in the offline stage as of Jan 2014.

  • On the merchandise front, We are already working with a select group of customers, in India and in USA, for whom we are executing custom orders using difficult-to-find fabrics, trims, and styles. 
  • We are also executing corporate / promotional clothing orders for customers strictly on a word-of-mouth basis. This is a basis for what we hope to create as custom “just-in-time” sourcing programs for large corporate workwear / uniform needs across the world.
  • We hope to become the "outsourced merchandising arm" of new eCommerce ventures until they can order on their own, and/or be the fulfilment partner of choice for small brands, small merchants, designers, value-conscious T-Shirt manufacturers.
  • At the other end of the supply chain, we will help large retailers, large eCom players and big stores become more nimble, more profitable and less dependent on seasonal sales. We will help them cut inventory, decide quicker, base stocks on sales, work with them to speed up reorders and enable them to run “Fast Fashion” sales to reduce latency in inventory.
  • Along the way, contributed expertise and my other business ventures have allowed me to spread horizontally into sourcing adjacent categories as well as more diverse categories for partner firms.

2nd: Online Phase. We launched Feb 19, 2014

With these orders, We will create our business logic based on which, we will create an online "Sourcing As A Service" (Sorry its not a tech word, rather a new hybrid term) platform we will build for our customers out there.

  • This will be supplemented by a state of the art warehousing, cataloging system, where we will purchase, store and warehouse our own fabric from around the world, on our customer’s behalf, ready to be produced at a moments notice. The trick here will be to store world-class fabric that we will never have any cash-loss positions on, even if they go unsold to apparel / furnishing buyers.
  • The execution of orders will happen through a well-managed systematised group of outsourced facilities coupled with controlled sampling and production management facilities that can scale up or down depending on requirements.
  • Delivery and fulfilment will be done through a network of 3PL partners
  • The final packaging and inspection will be done in house.
  • While we may call it an online platform, we’ll employ 100s of gnomes, goblins, elves and pixies to work feverishly to deliver a cutting-edge service to buyers around the world.

By keeping our customer’s raw material stocks, we offer predictability, transparency, quality and assurance on delivery.

By never owning our own fabrication facilities, we ensure we do not load our overheads and inefficiencies on the customer.

We hope to build a strong, robust fulfillment engine that can deliver product predictably, efficiently and cost-effectively anywhere in the world.

Best Regards,

Pranay