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Indian textile startup has aggressive growth plans

Shreyans Kokra and Shika Shah started CFL two years ago
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Indian startup Canva Fibre Labs LLP (CFL) expects to scale up this year, pushing beyond its current capacity of one ton of production daily, say the company’s founders.

“We intend to take these textiles to mainstream brands and thus are actively solving problems like how the textile feels without compromising on functional advantages, and its processability on the current infrastructure of textile like spinning and weaving,” said Shikha Shah, one of CFL’s two founders.

CFL says it has developed an indigenous proprietary technique for processing of agricultural waste from hemp plants, with output that has compatibility with current textile infrastructure. The system offers 100% green processing in which no hazardous chemicals are used to process the fiber.

The opportunity

The company sees an opportunity in the need for processing technology as well as the imbalance between price and quality when it comes to hemp textiles, said Shreyans Kokra, who co-founded the company with Shah when the two were classmates at Babson College in the USA.

CFL grew out of a year-long project by the partners to create a company in the hemp industry. Kokra, 25, worked in the family textile business and has degrees in finance and business. He has worked in accounting and investment banking, co-founded a marketing start-up and previously was co-head of a textile manufacturing and technology firm.

Shah, 23, is educated in business and entrepreneurship. Her experience ranges from working in family businesses, a textile project, a filmmaking start-up, and working with American and European companies co-founding a textile manufacturing and technology company.

Goal: 5 tons per day

Having had their ups and downs through two years after launching the company, the partners say they are now poised to execute an aggressive growth strategy.

“We are going to introduce different blends of fibres, mostly all containing considerable hemp fibres for different textile applications,” said Kokra, noting the company has a goal to scale up production to 5 tons a day.

Identifying the company as an “alternative fibre and material science company,” Shah and Kokra see the challenges of the nascent hemp industry. “It isn’t about managing the supply chain; it’s about creating a strong one from the scratch,” said Shah, noting CFL will be “aggressively targeting some strategic tie-ups in the coming years.”

And while hemp is at the center of their plans for development, CFL will also be probing other natural raw materials such as banana and ramie for their potential in textiles.

Mission

The mission is also clear at Canva Fibre Labs. “Just like how oil and gas need alternative fuel and a target to make it go to the masses, we see ourselves taking alternative fibres to masses and reducing the carbon footprint of this industry,” Shah said.

Canva Fibre Labs was selected earlier this month as the top entry under the 2019 Asian Hemp Summit’s Entrepreneur Rewards Program that honors innovative business initiatives.


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