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Rental portal for designer wear STAGE 3 raises angel funding

Sabena Puri, co-founder and CEO of STAGE 3

Sabena Puri, co-founder and CEO of STAGE 3

STAGE 3, a New Delhi-based online renting platform for designer wear, has secured angel funding by divesting 16 per cent stake in its parent company to a bunch of angel investors.

Former AOL executive Nisha Sharma, Dalmia Bharat Group’s Puneet Dalmia and Stanford University professor Balaji Prabhakar have put money in this round, Sabena Puri, co-founder and CEO of STAGE 3, told Techcircle.in.

Technolour Dream Pants Pvt Ltd, the company behind STAGE 3, will use the money raised to expand operations and strengthen its technology back end.

The startup, which went live last month, allows women to rent a style from leading designers for Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per evening. Users can keep the garments for up to eight days. STAGE 3 targets women between the ages of 21 and 35 who are looking to rent dresses for events such as weddings.

Sabena founded the venture earlier this year along with fashion designer Rina Dhaka and Sanchit Baweja, former CEO of Buttons and Threads.

“Initially, the model will be inventory-led, so that we own the customer experience,” Sabena said, adding that the company gets discounts of up to 50 per cent on the maximum retail price of designer clothes because of its relationship with leading designers. The startup’s advisory board consists of Anaita Shroff Adjania (fashion director, Vogue), Gautam Kalra (official stylist to Lakme Fashion Week), Arjun Sawhney (co-owner, The Communications Council) and Pearl Uppal (co-founder, Fashion and You).

Sabena, an alumnus of Harvard Business School and Columbia University, is the daughter of Moser Baer India founder Deepak Puri. She is a serial entrepreneur who ran Indian restaurant Junnoon in California before moving back to India. Sabena is married to Neeraj Bharadwaj, managing director of Carlyle India Advisors.

STAGE 3 is modeled on Rent the Runway, a US-based online service that provides designer dress and accessory rentals. One of STAGE 3’s investors, Nisha, had earlier served as CFO of Rent the Runway.

In India, STAGE 3 would compete with startups such as FlyRobe, Klozee and LibeRent.  These ventures are relying on the growing middle class’ aspiration of owning premium and luxury brands. Recently, Klozee.com had secured an undisclosed amount in seed funding from startup incubator TracxnLabs and other unnamed angel investors.

Then, there are firms such as Envoged and Zapyle that provide an online platform for pre-owned luxury wear. STAGE 3 would also explore the pre-owned luxury wear space after it achieves scale, Sabena said.

In September, Zapyle raised $1 million in seed funding from a bunch of unnamed real estate firms and investment companies in Bangalore.

Envoged raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Nijhawan Group’s Ankush Nijhawan, Mediology Software director Manish Dhingra and AMG Investment’s Gaurav Bhatnagar four months back.

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