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Apace Apparels by Aditya and Mihir on Creating a Truly Indian Sports Apparel Brand

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Apace Apparels, a Make in India brand, India’s first running, cycling, and triathlon apparel brand founded in 2012 by two engineers who went against the current and succeeded in taking their venture to new heights. Aditya and Mihir started their entrepreneurship journey because they had a goal to be India’s first Cycling Triathlon and Running Apparel brand, they made it this far by being optimistic, persistent, and patient. Here are Aditya and Mihir on KYETalks


Aditya: Mihir has been a tennis player for a good part of his life, almost 30 years. I’ve been around sports in school and after school as well. I started running in 2005. When I moved back to India I also saw that there was a lot of cycling activity happening around here. The brands that were available back then were Nike, Adidas, Reebok, but there was no Indian brand in that market. So we decided to create an Indian brand for cycling and running apparel. That’s how it gathered steam and Apace Apparels came into being. As for the name, initially, we had thought of the name Cadence which is a synonym of the word rhythm but it was already taken. We wanted a name that would be related to motion or speed, and the phrase “keep apace” meaning keep up with me had a good ring to it so we went with Apace.

KYE: What was the motivation behind starting Apace?
It was more on the lines of doing something on your own and building something on your own. It is so much more fun than buying it like baking a cake or fixing a flat tire yourself. That was really a trigger and for us starting our own company was also one of the factors. The chance that your idea may really click and leads to wealth is always motivating, as it is the bottom life for everything in an entrepreneur’s life. Creating wealth by creating value out of something is a great motivation. Now, when I go out for a run and see people wearing our apparel, it’s a validation that whatever we are doing has created some value for someone. That’s also very motivating.

KYE: What gives you guys the sense of accomplishment?
In an entrepreneur, life accomplishment is a very permanent thing. Entrepreneurs look at every new milestone. They’re always dreamers. You look at something you want to get it, you put a lot of planning in that and then you get it. The accomplishment lies in the fact that by then you’ve already thought of the next goal you wanna achieve. A simple example within our company would be that we had a product which we first made 3 years ago, it was selling well, the customers were liking it while we were already thinking of upgrading it and were working on the upgrades. There are many ways an entrepreneur gets a sense of accomplishment but they are very temporary because an entrepreneur is always looking forward to achieving the next goal. The feeling of accomplishment is a continuous process.

KYE: What were the challenges/obstacles you faced as a new venture?
We both are engineers, I’m a chemical engineer while Aditya is a mechanical engineer. We used to work in our own fields, Aditya is a logistics and scheduling expert for productions and I used to sell software for a living. After all of that, people yearn for stability i.e. the people around you want you to be stable. Heading into something new, for us, switching from the tech background to the garment industry was a huge leap. In the beginning, there was a lot of instability and uncertainty, it was difficult to make everyone understand why we decided to take that leap. That was also a challenge for us as new entrepreneurs and we had to get around it and make them understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. Neither one had a business background so learning how to run a business was in itself a ground of learning activity for us. Every day we were learning new things and we had to learn it at a very fast pace. Even today the bigger our company gets the faster we have to learn. Given the current pandemic, everyone has to learn new ways of keeping their businesses running not just new entrepreneurs. People who have been running their businesses for the past 25 years also have learned and reinvented in order to stay relevant to the times. 

KYE: How has the current pandemic affected your venture? What are the modifications you had to do?
For a few months there was no business so that did affect everything from a financial point of view. That being said, it also gave us time to realign what we wanted to do as opposed to what we were doing before the lockdown. It also gave us time to figure out what was the excess we were doing and where was the waste, it forced us to eliminate waste to a large extent. By waste, I mean wasted efforts, wasted money, wasted resources, etc. We really need to be in control of the finances in a situation like this. It was bad from the business point of view but in the long-term, we made internal changes that will help us in the coming times.

KYE: At this moment, what do you think is needed of you guys to reach your business aspirations?
The industry that we are in, it’s the apparel industry but we are in a very niche segment in that i.e. cycling triathlon and running is a slightly larger market than that. There are a lot of foreign brands available at various price ranges so for us there are two important factors we need to look into, firstly a Growth mentality, everyone has the opportunity to grow but you have to grow in the right direction rather than growing haywire in all directions. We focus on growing our own abilities as well as those of our company. It took us cycles to get to where we are now because everything you can do someone else can do better, it’s never that easy, so having a growth mentality is very important. Secondly, Innovative thinking or out-of-the-box ideas, since we are new to entrepreneurship we have no set ideals that things have to work in a particular way or how to design something or what to use where. Initially, it was trial and error but now its better judgment for us. Also because we don’t have any preconceived ideas we can experiment far better than someone who is forming that industry and is scared to try new ways.

KYE: How has this venture changed you guys as persons?
It has made us really focused on what we do and how we do it. The way a business works and the pace at which we are moving we have realized there’s always a shortage of time. We had to hold back on quite a lot that was really important for us to keep the wheels going. Like Aditya said during lockdown we cut down a lot of the fluff around Apace, in our own lives also we cut down a lot of the fluff that would constitute a wastage in any way. We want to keep things very simple and make sure everything is easy to do and not very complicated. Also since we started we have had a lot of people helping us, from experienced businessmen to not-so-experienced colleagues we have learned how to value people.

KYE: What are the words of wisdom you guys would like to share with the budding entrepreneurs out there?
I think if you have an idea or a vision for that idea and you can afford a temporary dip in income and you believe your idea has the potential to make it big then you should just go for it. It’s okay to be ignorant of what is standard in a particular field because generally there is no standard way of doing something there is one way or the other way. Whatever works for you, you should follow. If it works out well and good if it doesn’t work out it’ll give you more ideas to pursue.

Mihir: An entrepreneur must also be an optimist. A lot of people are always against you, sometimes even the times and situations are bad but if you are an optimist you can work your way through it and come out on the other side as a better person. And be persistent and patient for the results.

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