Bruce Kilgore taught me the importance of simplicity in creative thinking: Ravi Kallayil de Plaeto

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CEO and co-founder of shoe brand Plaeto, Ravi Kallayil’s first association with the shoe industry was when he was in 9th grade and sold shoes from one of the first shoe startups in sport in India to his friends and shops in Kerala. The venture was not successful, but life came full circle and he found himself at Nike several 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 manuals to study, adapting tools to repair your bike, etc. The notion of defining a boundary or drawing constraints in which to innovate was something I wore throughout my career,” he says.The Bangalore-based startup was launched with the aim of designing and delivering world-class shoes for Indian children.

For the longest period of his career, Kallayil has been associated with the footwear, apparel, engineering and consumer products industries in the United States, India, Africa and Nepal, with large companies like Nike, Unilever, Infosys, etc. and startups. This healthy experience allowed him to discover his creative side, in which he also realized that creativity is necessary in all jobs to ensure that the product or service solves a problem for customers.

In fact, innovation is what he says drove Indian cricket coach and sports icon Rahul Dravid not just to agree to endorse the brand, but to join the group as a mentor and strategic advisor. “He was drawn to the company’s mission to provide accessible, world-class footwear for every Indian child while protecting the planet they will inherit,” says the founder.

A host of design elements exclusive to Plaeto that he says will protect the health of children’s growing feet are FitSystem which contains an exclusive Fitliner that gives an extra ½ size from the same product, without compromising fit, comfort and performance, Plaeto365, a midsole that’s responsive, supportive and comfortable even after a year of use, and Plaeto FitWiz, which leverages technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to recommend the best fit for each child. The startup recently made a foray into the UAE market through a partnership with Threads, a retailer of school uniforms, shoes and accessories.

He calls Bruce Kilgore his mentor who designed Nike Air Force 1 and designed for top athletes like Michael Jordan and John McEnroe during his career. “Bruce really taught me the simplicity of creative thinking – how to take any problem or need for a product and simplify it to the essentials, then create solutions from there. It’s a great way solve any complex problem,” he said.

BOX

  • Amount of external funding received: $5 million recently raised, Series A
  • Number of people employed – 18
  • Turnover – Not disclosed
  • Year of creation – March 2020
  • Key customers – Schools, parents and children
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