A pair Sri Lankans and a Colombian are the founders of Alana Athletica that aim to revolutionize the social enterprise model.
Big mission? You bet. But this Miami startup that designs and sells yoga pants manufactured by women in Sri Lanka, some of which are abuse survivors, believes it is up to the challenge.
Founded by Juan Castellanos, Azad Rahman and Cheynelle Mendis, Alana Athletica is empowering abuse survivors through its ethically produced yoga-inspired pants and seeks to go further by revolutionizing the customer experience through a trackability platform. The platform will allow customers to track and share the impact of their purchases, resulting in a connection between the Sri Lankan women who produce the pants and the active urban women purchasing them worldwide.
Castellanos was born in Colombia and moved to Miami when he was 3, went to Stanford University and quickly landed a “dream job” at Deloitte. But after three years he left to join with Rahman, his former boss, to co-found Alana Athletica. “I knew I wanted to do something impactful in the world and I figured this is the time to take the risk,” Castellanos told the Miami Herald in an earlier interview.
In 2017, Alana launched a Kickstarter campaign, selling 650 pants and raising $55,000 in 30 days. It stayed true to its mission: the pants were manufactured by an all-women factory that defies Sri Lanka’s notorious sweat shops that manufacture the majority of the world’s high-performance active wear.
Another big milestone: Alana signed a partnership with WeWork to sell its product at all the company’s fitness locations. That deal sprouted after Alana was selected to compete in WeWork’s Creator Awards.
The next big goal for the Miami startup is to build a trackability platform, dubbed an impact dashboard. “We want to take the social impact model to the next level. We’re revolutionizing the customer experience,” Castellanos explained. It’s in the early development and could eventually incorporate blockchain technology.
Each pair of pants sold helps fund private tutoring, employment opportunities or self-defense training for Sri Lankan women. With the tracker, a buyer could see the impact the sale makes. And if the customer shares the experience with friends and family, drawing more sales, the customer’s impact multiplies, Castellanos said.
“We’re going to build that impact trackability to create transparency and to quantify the impact that each person has on the world.”
Alana also participated in StartUP FIU, an accelerator, last year. Castellanos and Rahman are based in the US, whereas Mendis works in Sri Lanka. Alana hasn’t raised funding yet, but may seek seed funding of about $250,000 this year, Castellanos said.
“Our big goals for 2018 are improving brand exposure, raising capital and building the first version of our impact technology.”