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Neeman's Footwear Raises $2.7 Mn In Series A Round Led By Sixth Sense Ventures The company will be utilizing the funds towards intensive product development, launching Neeman's in international markets, expansion of categories

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Neeman's Footwear

Neeman's, an eco-friendly footwear startup, announced on Wednesday that it raised a Series A round of funding of $2.7 million from Sixth Sense Ventures.

Founded in 2018 by Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet, Neeman's is disrupting the $11 billion Indian footwear segment.

The startup has created a stir in the market by introducing India to shoes made with merino wool. This unexplored yarn suits the Indian subcontinent because of its unique temperature regulating property, sustainability, and comfort, making it apt for all-day wear, the company claims.

"We are elated that Neeman's in a short period has successfully reinvigorated the Indian footwear industry and created the position for 'The Most Comfortable Shoes' in the country for itself. We are delighted to have Sixth Sense Ventures partner with us in our journey of being the first sustainable footwear brand in India. The investment from our new partner, Sixth Sense Ventures, reassures us that we are taking the right steps and strengthens our commitment to providing people with superior quality comfortable, eco-friendly and stylish footgear. We are excited about our soon-to-be collection, which is made with a material that is so far considered to be a key pollutant. Without revealing much, can say, the shoe is a first-of-its-kind sneaker in India and will change how Indian's wear shoes," said Taran Chhabra, founder, and chief executive officer, Neeman's.

While the Indian footwear industry has seen a drought of innovation, Neeman's has launched new-age products such as sustainable flips flops, slides, and recycled cotton sneakers within the last two years. Their focus on both product and customer has yielded an explosive growth of 600 per cent last year despite restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Neeman's story is in sync with the Sixth Sense investment philosophy of betting on first-generation founders, disrupting large consumer categories, building brands catering to the consumer preferences of tomorrow. We at Sixth Sense have a strong belief that the next few years will witness the advent of a new class of consumers making bold choices with regard to environment-friendly and sustainable products. The same will create a rub-off on challenger brands in deep categories (such as alternate meat, footwear, among others). Our partnership with Neeman's underpins this belief, with the brand has created a strong affinity among new-age-conscious consumers. Within two years, the team has demonstrated great ability to successfully launch innovative products disrupting the $11 billion footwear category. Neeman's is spearheading the transition to eco-friendly footwear in India, and we believe they are best positioned to carve a niche for themselves in the generic footwear space (akin to Allbirds in the US)," commented Nikhil Vora, Sixth Sense Ventures.

India is the second-largest footwear consumer in the world, with the overall category growing at a near 8 per cent and the non-leather footwear segment growing at a much faster rate. This trend is attributed to various factors, including premiumization, a growing concern for the environment, and the shift towards branded footwear. Neeman's is well-positioned to cater to these new customers, having already amassed a loyal customer base who not only love their products but also resonate with the brand vision and all that it stands for.

"Since the beginning of our journey, Neeman's has aimed to move away from the norm and challenge the status quo of the Indian footgear industry. Our shoes and slippers, made with merino wool, organic cotton and renewable materials, have consistently reiterated our brand ethos and vision for the future. Our mantra is comfort and sustainability, and every product, existing and new, will stand by it, every time. We are excited about the funding raised and geared up to bring our customers a more exciting line-up," noted Amar Preet, co-founder, Neeman's.

The company will be utilizing the funds towards intensive product development, launching Neeman's in international markets, expansion of categories, and further strengthening their commitment to the planet, and being a champion of sustainability through research and development of new eco-friendly technologies.

"India is a growing and flourishing D2C market, and when we first met Taran and Amar at Neeman's, we immediately knew that their identification of an underserved category, original brand thinking, and focus on quality products would hold them in good stead. Post-investment, it has been an even more heartening journey to see how they have dealt with the COVID crisis and come out with flying colors, in terms of growth, supply chain management and product quality. The brand resonates strongly with its ethos for cutting edge design; sustainability; and a zero-waste ecosystem," added Tushar Singh, investor, Anicut Investors.

The firm had raised its last round of funding last year from Anicut Angel Fund, the equity arm of Anicut Capital. The deal was led by seasoned angel investors Tushar Singh and Rohit Anand at Anicut and got participation from Ashvin Chadha, partner Anicut Capital.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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