Borrowing celebrity style has never been this easy, thanks to Chinmay Rajula and Mamidi Raja and their website Clapone.com
The Indian film industry is nothing if not glamorous and films have the power to kick start trends in fashion. Yash Chopra, for instance, can still be held responsible for the increase in sales of chiffon saris, and the Dabangg franchise most likely led to a spike in Aviator sales, especially in Hyderabad where many young men still sport Salman Khan’s look from Tere Naam. Love that red skirt Deepika Padukone wore in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani? Want to channel the rugged look sported by Ram Charan in Nayak? Chinmay Rajula and Mamidi Raja, former students of International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad have found a way to make this easier. Their website Clapone.com makes film-based trend recommendations, helping people purchase apparels, footwear and accessories to recreate the look sported by actors in their films.
“It’s something we’ve all experienced,” says Chinmay, “We see something we like on a star and try finding it in a store.” It all began when Chinmay’s sister wanted a shirt similar to the one worn by actor Samantha in Eega. “She asked me to look for the shirt in Hyderabad and I didn’t find it in any of the stores so I decided to try online. With a few clicks and the right filters, I was able to get something very similar — that’s where the idea for Clapone came about. The probability of finding something specific online where a few websites together offer over 3000 options, is much higher than in a store with 300 shirts,” he explains. With the right partner and the space, seed investment and mentorship provided by IIIT’s incubation centre, the website which went live in April 2013 now has over 50,000 users, despite operating mainly in Andhra Pradesh.
“We created an algorithm which detects parameters from the images of the actors and searches apparels based on this information. These parameters include colour, style, pattern and print,” informs Raja who majored in image processing. “There are two things at work here, one is image processing and the other is parametric search,” adds Chinmay. “We give the algorithm a source image and it combs through every e-commerce site and searches for products that match the parameters.” The search results that meet requirements, which often include about 1000 products, are narrowed down to 30 or 40and then manually moderated to create the final look which can be purchased through the website itself.
Every film has professionals who work to create a specific ‘look’ for characters, a look that goes beyond just apparel. “Even with apparels we cannot get 100 percent accuracy so manual moderation is important,” says Chinmay. “We have automated apparel search as much as we can; we still do accessories like earrings and belts manually,” says Raja. “And the algorithm learns the patterns with time, so it will get much better as we go along.”
Clapone’s revenue model is fairly straightforward. “We recommend products from various e-commerce sites so if a customer makes a purchase through our site, then we get a commission,” explains Chinmay.
While the catalogue is currently restricted to what is already available on the site, Raja and Chinmay are working on a model where guests can search for a particular look which will be generated for them. “We are also planning to introduce user generated content where you can create and share looks with friends,” says Chinmay.
Clapone.com is not the pair’s first experiment.
The 20-year olds previously worked on a vacation planning portal which didn’t take off because of large investment and time costs. As graduates of IIIT-H, entrepreneurship was not an easy choice. “In Andhra there is a pattern and to break out of it is not easy. We graduate with golden handcuffs,” says Chinmay, “Some of the packages we were offered were very tempting and difficult to say no to,” adds Raja.
Explaining this choice to parents is a hardship every young entrepreneur faces, “The best you can do is buy yourself some time and make sure you prove you can be successful in that given time,” says Raja. While many young entrepreneurs go on to sell their companies and continue with their studies, Chinmay feels that there is much to be learnt from running a start-up.
“The day I feel I am not learning anything new here, will be the day I consider doing my higher studies,” says the Computer Science graduate.