Glyph Founder Pranav Sachdev Talks Shoes and Minimalism

 
Glyph on Republic

Highly versatile shoes developed with digital knitting technology

Summary

Minimalism is a growing trend in the US. But one of the most difficult places to apply it is in the closet. Shoes in particular often seem to pile up as a different pair is needed for each activity.

That’s where Glyph comes in. This shoe company utilizes digital knitting technology to make a versatile and comfortable loafer that easily switches from business to weekend. We sat down with founder Pranav Sachdev to talk about how minimalism inspires him, what investors should know about Glyph, and where the company is headed.


Kingscrowd
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Pranav

Glyph is a minimalism company. We designed the only pair of shoes anyone needs to own and sell them directly to customers.

We have done $300k in revenue right out of the gate, have sold out three times, and are backed by top growth investors including 500 Startups & Cornell University.

Kingscrowd
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
Pranav

I have been a minimalist for my entire life. It is something I learned from my grandfather. He didn’t think that having a lot of things would make you happy, and he was right. We founded Glyph because it is important to us that the people who design the products we use every day are minimalists. 

Before we started Glyph we spent over 100 hours interviewing people about their shoes. We had in-depth conversations with people, and we heard the same frustrations over and over: having lots of shoes but nothing to wear, not having shoes that were comfortable and stylish, not knowing which shoes to pack on trips. From these conversations, we realized there was an opening for us.

Kingscrowd
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
Pranav

I started my career in investment banking at JP Morgan. After that, I worked in tech strategy consulting where I got exposed to the inner workings of the Facebook ad bidding platform, which is our primary customer acquisition tool at Glyph. I have priced over $300 million in digital advertising spend over my career.

I also worked for the 2012 Obama campaign. I was a community organizer in Iowa City, Iowa. I knocked on over 5,000 doors and made over 3,000 phone calls trying to get people to re-elect the president. You get rejected over and over and over again, but it doesn’t matter because there is always another door. 

Founding a startup is the same way. 95% percent of marketing experiments don’t work, 95% of the investors you pitch don’t invest. It’s ok though, there is always another door.

Kingscrowd
Do you or your business have a driving mission or philosophy?
Pranav

Our mission is to design a future in which we own fewer things that are more beautiful and better crafted than we ever thought possible.

Kingscrowd
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Pranav

My cofounder Alan and I met at Cornell. Towards the end of grad school we built SageLink, the first voice advertising platform ever on Amazon Alexa. In just three months we built the platform and the network of apps, sold ad space to a TV channel and to a fintech startup, and soft circled some early funding. It ultimately ended up being a bad idea. Amazon blocked us as soon as they realized what we were doing, but through that experience, we learned that we trusted each other and that we could both get stuff done quickly. It was a great trial run for building Glyph.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any direct competition, and if so, how do you differentiate?
Pranav

The footwear market is massive – $93 Billion domestically and $456 Billion worldwide. Because the market is so large, what is most important is your ability to execute. You have to pick the 1 or 2 things you are going to be the best at because you can’t be the best at everything. We are focused on making the most versatile shoes on the planet and building the definitive minimalism brand of our generation. 

Kingscrowd
Your model centers around one shoe and the concept of minimalism. how will you scale from here?
Pranav

In the near term we are going to release more colors and designs for our customers. A huge percentage of Glyph customers buy more than one pair of Glyphs – either as gifts for loved ones or so they can match their Glyphs with different outfits. The single biggest point of feedback we get is that our customers want more colors. 

We’ve seen in the past that you can build a billion-dollar or hundreds of millions of dollar shoe company off of one shoe that people love (Toms, Tory Birch, Sperry, Allbirds), so that is our priority for the time being. In the future we will consider launching other highly versatile products, but right now we are focused on footwear. 

Kingscrowd
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Pranav

We knew we wanted to build a community-owned company after several of our early customers reached out to us after buying Glyphs because they wanted to invest. One of our investors is a customer who we targeted through a Facebook ad. He ended up investing $100,000 because he loved the shoes so much. 

With traditional angel investments like those, the check has to be pretty sizable for it to make sense – otherwise, your cap table gets too crowded and the legal bills pile up. 

Through equity crowdfunding, we are building a  community of investors and doing it in a way that keeps the legal work to a minimum.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any notable investors?
Pranav

Our first investor was Cornell University. Soon after 500 Startups (one of the top growth funds in San Francisco) invested in us. We also have a group of experienced angel investors in the mix, including early investors in Snapchat and SpaceX as well as one angel with $1.5 billion in exits as a founder.

Kingscrowd
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Pranav

We are right at the beginning of a massive growth phase. We have put together our supply chain, validated our product, sold out the first few batches and built a brand that people love. Now is the time for us to focus on really scaling. The investors who come in now are going to benefit from that growth.

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Pranav

Our goal [for exit opportunities] is to IPO. There are also many strategic acquirers in our industry. Ultimately, our focus has to be on scaling quickly and profitably. If we can execute, the exit opportunities will be there. 

Our goal [for the company] is to bring minimalism to mainstream America. We want to change our relationship with the things we own.


We are excited to see where Pranav and his team take the company. Glyph is currently raising on Republic.


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About: Olivia strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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