Heelium aims to infuse advanced tech-led research and design into the making of high performance, tailor-made footwear for runners
Heelium, a start-up that creates customised footwear for running, has received seed funding from Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the tech incubator of IIM Ahmedabad. Co-founded by Prateek Sharma and Siddharth Jain, Heelium aims to infuse cutting-edge technology-led research and manufacture high performance, tailor-made footwear for runners. The customised footwear with special midsole material absorbs impact five times more effectively than a regular midsole currently available for running shoes.
Before its official launch, Heelium was given a grant by the department of science and technology for technology development. Founded in July 2017, Heelium’s flagship products are bamboo athletic socks and high-performance running shoes.
Heelium’s first product was premium and durable bamboo athletic socks engineered to absorb more impact, provide odour control, and allow better perspiration. Selling exclusively through Amazon and running events, Heelium has sold over 4,000 units to individual customers since its launch in January this year. They now look to start enterprise sales to sports institutions such as the Sports Authority of India.
Heelium is a believer of the criticality of R&D in an ever-changing market. “There is a huge gap in research and development in India, at least in sports engineering and technology. We are the only Indian footwear brand that is centred on technology and innovation as opposed to just the aesthetics of it,” says Prateek Sharma, co-founder, Heelium. We look to leverage CIIE’s strong industry insights and networks to expand our presence in every corner of the country. We plan to utilise the funds to fuel our sales, operations and business development efforts.”
Talking about the partnership, Vipul Patel from CIIE Initiatives says, “Through our investment, we aim to acknowledge and appreciate the innovative founders, their expertise in sports materials, biomechanics, and product design, supported by a large market opportunity in sports footwear.”
At present, the team is working on customising shoes based on the runner’s foot shape and running style, and is targeting a commercial launch in December 2018. Heelium is also exploring the East Asian market through the K-start-up programme in South Korea and are looking to set up online retail channels there soon.