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Faster fashion

Suuchi Ramesh is building a company that is changing the apparel business in New Jersey

Suuchi Ramesh – AARON HOUSTON/NJBIZ FILE PHOTO

 

Suuchi Ramesh spent years in the technology business, including a stint with the supply-chain analytics division at Intel. In 2016, she leveraged that experience to create Suuchi Inc., a next-generation supply chain platform provider for fashion brands and retailers.

The company is based in North Bergen and firmly ensconced in New Jersey. But a year ago, Ramesh, who serves as chief executive officer, was preparing to move to North Carolina. Then, the state Economic Development Authority stepped in with Grow NJ tax incentives. The award convinced Ramesh to stay put.

Suuchi employs about 125 workers and Ramesh intends to have 470 to 500 employees by September 2021. She is planning to hire for sales, engineering, and marketing positions.

That expansion effort got a boost from Edison Partners, a Princeton-based growth equity investment firm, which recently committed $8 million to Suuchi.

“My team and I were super-excited,” Ramesh said. “We boot-strapped the company to this point. Having Edison come in has been wonderful. We are going to use the funds to build our technology, make it stronger, and be ready for enterprise selling.”

Kelly Ford Buckley, a partner at Edison, said the firm typically invests in companies that achieve capital efficiency and revenue growth.

“Suuchi has doubled every year in revenue and will triple in revenue this year,” Buckley said. “We really like the revenue growth. There were other dynamics in the company and in the market that proved the company has a really strong product market fit.”

Sprucing up ‘dusty industries’

Suuchi works to reduce the time to market for fashion brands. “Consumers today are expecting things faster,” Buckley said.

Ford Buckley – EDISON PARTNERS

“Traditionally in apparel manufacturing, the production, the design, and development of these clothing items take anywhere from nine to 12 months advanced lead times in order to get them into stores or available on their web site or whatever their channel is for the season,” Buckley added. “It’s a long, complex, costly process. Mistakes are costly because of those long lead times.”

Suuchi offers access to a network of freelance designers and factories that provides flexible capacity for short-term manufacturing.

“We are taking a service, making a product, and we have applied our digital stack on it,” Ramesh said. “It is not that I started off with that idea; it was in response to demand.”

Ramesh described her company as a full supply-chain provider for fashion.  “We want to be the standard for big and small fashion companies,” Ramesh said.

As CEO, Ramesh supervises technology and sales, as they are her strengths.

“I always loved to scale things,” Ramesh said. “With Suuchi Inc., if you look at the biggest companies out there, they have taken dusty industries and have applied clean processes and efficient tech to change it.  I think the biggest opportunities in the world today lie in looking at those dusty industries or the old-fashioned industries and transforming them. What are basic services that people need? People need food, clothing, shelter and transportation. These are industries that have thrived for thousands of years but the funny thing is some of them have not moved with tech. Apparel manufacturing is one of them.”

 ‘Market opportunity’

Suuchi is special in many ways, said Chris Sugden, Edison’s managing partner.

“There is a market opportunity here,” Sugden said. “It is very hard to create markets that are high growing and that are clearly in demand that are not being met by another technology company. This fast fashion meets the need of a supply-chain software that is built on modern technology and is a unique window in time and through a confluence of events and Suuchi happens to be meeting it.”

The greatest difficulty in investing in technology companies, Sugden said, is finding a market that is growing quickly but is not being served.

“Risk number one is product-market fit,” Sugden said. “The second is finding a market that is high-growth without an incumbent that is already in the space and taking a lot of the oxygen from the room.”

Buckley said Suuchi fits well with Edison’s approach to investing. “When companies take our money, they are already growing nicely,” she noted. “And they are typically ready now for scalable growth. They might have some level of repeatability in the business in terms of sales process, product development process, the ability to hire and onboard, and getting new employees in a successful way. Scaling growth is making it not only repeatable but truly predictable through operational excellence.”

Ramesh said her greatest challenge is trying to change an established industry.

“We work with factories including our own. You want to be able to teach them how to modernize the processes and how to digitize the shop floor,” she explained.

“Another challenge is how do you staff for an industry that has been long dead in the United States? I am talking from a technology standpoint. From the standpoint of sales and marketing, we still have to train folks at every level across various jobs. When they come in, they are not ready to hit the ground running because there is not any company that does what we do. We are taking a problem and attacking it at the heart, attacking the old way of doing things.”

David Hutter
David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at: dhutter@njbiz.com.