When Samay Mehta, founder and business developer of MATOS (Matter TO Someone) returned to India after earning his undergraduate degree from Indiana University Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business, in the USA, he wanted to start a business but wasn’t quite sure. “At a family dinner, I looked around and realised that all the young men wore similar styled, boring shoes. There seemed to be a lack of well-styled shoes here,” recalls the 24-year-old.
Being a big fan of the socially conscious shoe brand TOMS, which donates a shoe for every shoe bought, Mehta was keen to do social good through his venture. “I figured that the only way to improve conditions in India would be through education. I knew I wanted to pitch in, in the education sphere via learning aids; and what better way than to start with children. That’s how the idea of MATOS came along,” he explains. The site’s policy includes donating a learning kit for every shoesold.
How it works
“The learning kits are designed as per the requirements of two Bal Mandirs in Mahalaxmi. They contain books that teach them English, Hindi, and Mathematics, as well as a colouring book. The kit also contains basic stationery such as a box of pencils, pen, notebook, ruler, eraser, sharpener and a box of crayons; all packed in a colourful school bag. Another organisation, required art supplies. So, we got them oil paints, water colours, crayons, geometry sets and sketching books,” explains Mehta.
Launched on Diwali this year (November 13), MATOS’ current range includes canvas slip-ons, plimsolls and Captain Jack boat shoes for men in cool shades of beige, black, blue, denim and green. The shoes are made using canvas, synthetic leather and synthetic suede (which are all devoid of animal origin). Presently, they are experimenting with eco-friendly materials to develop shoes.
“Cool and attractive products would get India’s youth interested. At the same time, I had to remain true to the core idea, which is to matter to someone. It made sense to go the extra mile – to ensure that we can matter to the environment and animals. It’s how using no animal products and only eco-friendly packaging fit into the puzzle that was MATOS,” adds Mehta.
While only men’s casual footwear is on sale now, they intend to expand this collection by early 2013 and add a women’s collection too. Mehta will also add products in the lifestyle category. “Our future plans will include expansion with designs, collaborations with local artists and designers for limited editions, and a move beyond footwear products. We hope to enter the retail segment across major Indian cities too,” he concludes.