Bruce Kilgore Taught me the Importance of Simplicity in Creative Thinking: Plaeto's Ravi Kallayil

For the longest time in his career, Kallayil has been associated with footwear, apparel, engineering and consumer product industries in the US, India, Africa and Nepal

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CEO and co-founder of footwear brand Plaeto, Ravi Kallayil's earliest association with the footwear industry was when he was in Grade 9 and sold shoes from one of the first athletic footwear startups in India to his friends and stores in Kerala. The company did not make it, but life went a full circle and he ended up in Nike many years later without realizing it.

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"Growing up in India always gives you the inspiration to try and solve problems with minimal resources – borrowing textbooks to study, adapting tools to fix your bicycle etc. The notion of defining a boundary or drawing constraints within which to innovate was something that I carried through all my career," he says. The Bangalore-based startup was launched with the purpose of designing and delivering world-class shoes for Indian kids.

For the longest time in his career, Kallayil has been associated with footwear, apparel, engineering and consumer product industries in the US, India, Africa and Nepal, with large corporates like Nike, Unilever, Infosys etc and startups. This wholesome experience gave him a chance to discover his creative side, wherein he also realized that creativity is needed in all jobs to ensure the product or service solves a problem for the customers.

In fact, innovation is what he believes made India's cricketing coach and sporting icon Rahul Dravid not only agree to endorse the brand but join the group as a strategic mentor and advisor. "He was drawn in with the company's mission to provide accessible, world-class footwear to every Indian child while protecting the planet that they will inherit," says the founder.

A host of proprietary design elements at Plaeto that he claims will safeguard the health of children's growing feet are FitSystem which contains a proprietary Fitliner that gives an additional ½ size from the same product, without compromising on fit, comfort and performance, Plaeto365, a midsole which is responsive, supportive, and comfortable even after a year of usage and Plaeto FitWiz, which leverages technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to recommend the best fit for every child. The startup has recently forayed into the UAE market through a partnership with Threads, a uniform retailer for school uniforms, shoes and accessories.

He calls Bruce Kilgore his mentor who designed Nike Air Force 1 and has designed for top athletes like Michael Jordan and John McEnroe in his career. "Bruce really taught me simplicity in creative thinking – how to take any problem or product need and simplify it to its bare essentials and then build solutions from there on. It is a great way to solve any complex problem," he says.

FACT BOX

  • Amount of external funding received: Recently raised $5 million Series A
  • Number of people employed - 18
  • Turnover – Undisclosed
  • Year of Inception – March 2020
  • Key customers - Schools, parents and kids