How We Successfully Raised $35K For Our Laptop Leather Sleeve

Published: November 24th, 2020
Sonal Malhotra
Founder, Silviano
from London, UK
started October 2020
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
average product price
growth channels
Organic social media
business model
best tools
YouTube, Twitter, Instagram
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
35 Pros & Cons
2 Tips
Discover what tools Sonal recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Sonal recommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! My name is Sonal Malhotra and I am the co-founder of Silviano along with my brother Nakul Malhotra.

At Silviano we make beautifully crafted, high-quality leather goods and accessories.


Our flagship product is the Silviano Sleeve - a luxury leather folio which is the world’s first voice-activated laptop sleeve engineered with wireless charging, global tracking & RFID lining. The laptop sleeve is handcrafted using the highest quality vegetable-tanned leather. It is then hand-painted using a traditional Italian technique to produce the unique finish of the Tamponata leather,

The Silviano Sleeve is not just a regular laptop sleeve, it is the smartest laptop sleeve in the world.

We launched our first project on Indiegogo on 13th October 2020, which was fully funded in less than 3 hours!



What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My brother Nakul and I have both been very fortunate to be a part of a family business with over 70 years of experience in leather.

Crowdfunding is the perfect tool for launching a new brand as it gives new brands product and market validation and proof of concept.

Nakul comes from a background in finance and I have a background in international fashion, luxury brand management, and textile science. From a very young age, we started learning about the business from our father and grandfather.

After working in the business for over a decade we realized that there was a gap in the market for luxury leather goods that were beautiful in design, high in quality, affordable in price, and adaptable to the modern-day tech market.

We wanted to create a brand where customers could buy a luxury product without the extra mark-ups and put the savings in their own pockets. Since we manufacture the products in our factory and sell directly to the consumers, we eliminate all middlemen and the extra costs.

We decided to combine the knowledge of skilled craftsmanship and quality passed down by our forefathers, along with our own knowledge of functionality, sustainability, modern design & technology, and thus, Silviano Sleeve was born.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The idea to make the Silviano Sleeve was first conceived in 2017. We wanted to design something using our own experience of manufacturing high-quality leather goods for luxury brands. We were lucky to have a team of skilled pattern makers and craftsmen who translated our ideas from pen and paper into the beautiful product that the Silviano Sleeve is today.


Our friends and family were very supportive throughout the entire design process, testing out our products for us and giving us feedback along the way.

We made several visits to leather trade shows such as Lineapelle, Mipel, Pitti Uomo and visited several leather & hardware factories in Spain, Italy & China. Our aim at Silviano was to use the highest quality of raw materials and create a product that has all the features of a luxury product, yet make it affordable.

One of the challenges of designing the product was incorporating the tech in it and yet making it look sleek and luxurious. Most luxury leather goods are not very tech-friendly and vice versa, so we wanted to create something that was both beautiful & functional at the same time.

Another challenge we faced with the Silviano Sleeve was perfecting the finish of the leather.

We have used the traditional Italian technique known as Tamponata to give our leather the beautiful natural patina effect. Tamponata is a type of hand-finishing done on the leather where the color is applied with a soft pressure, layer upon layer, to give the leather a shaded effect. The varying degree of darkness and lightness gives the leather beautiful tones and a great depth.

It’s a highly skilled traditional Italian technique that gives the leather a special character and unique finish. Every piece of the product is hand painted separately. It took us many tries to get this perfect color that is our signature color today.

Once we finalized the design we spent the next few months prototyping and testing it, which included user testing and lab wear testing. It was finally in late 2019, that the design of Silviano Sleeve was finalized.

Soon after this, we ran a trial production for marketing and began our marketing activities in early 2020.

Leather testing

Initial prototypes

Visiting hardware factories in China

Describe the process of launching the business.

Our plan to launch the project on Indiegogo was Nakuls, as he felt this type of fashion x tech product was perfect for the crowdfunding avenue.

Crowdfunding is the perfect tool for launching a new brand as it gives new brands product and market validation and proof of concept.

Launching on crowdfunding was a whole new experience for us as it is nothing like a regular brand launch. When launching via a platform like Indiegogo or Kickstarter it is very important to build a connection with your potential customers.

We launched our campaign on Indiegogo with our final product and not just a WIP prototype. Showing the customers that the product is an actual one, and not just an ‘Idea’ is very important to gain their trust.

One of the biggest advantages for us during this process was that our products were made in our own factory, and our business is entirely vertically integrated. This helps us to monitor the quality & production process from end to end.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I think the most important advice I can give to all aspiring founders is, to be honest, and transparent with your customers and build a good relationship with them. As a founder of a new business, I took the time out to reply to every potential customer and understand their needs. By asking these potential customers questions, we molded the product according to their needs.

One very important point that people tend to forget is - It is very important to create what the customer wants, not what you think the customer wants.

For example, when we launched the Silviano Sleeve we thought the majority of our buyers would be for the Silviano 13.3”, however after getting to know our audiences better, we realized we have equal demand for both 13.3” and 16” laptop sleeves.

It is also very important to figure out who your target audience really is. Once we started running ads we realized that the age group that was interested in buying our products was actually much older than our initially planned target audience. Running test ads on different audiences and seeing their results is very important in the pre-launch stage.

We registered as entrepreneurs on Indiegogo, several months before the campaign. There were a lot of live webinars and marketing materials shared by Indiegogo that were also very useful to help us learn.

One of the reasons that made people really buy our product was the huge discount that we offered for our backers. Our super early price sleeve was made available with a 63% discount, so it was a very tempting offer for the buyers.

Crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo & Kickstarter are very different today as compared to 5 years ago. Back then it was a more organic approach. However today there are more and more brands launching via these platforms so it is very important to have ads targeting the correct audiences.

Having a good marketing agency is also very important for your brand as it can help you recognize these target audiences for your product.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are already manufacturing our first batch of production of the Silviano Sleeve and once our Indiegogo campaign ends we will be starting the second batch based on our final order quantities.

Once the campaign ends we plan to sell the product online through our own store and other multi-brand stores.

We are working on an exciting new line of bags to expand our range of products as well.


Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

After 1 week of our Indiegogo launch, I can definitely say that this has been a very good learning experience for us.

One very important point that people tend to forget is - It is very important to create what the customer wants, not what you think the customer wants.

Crowdfunding campaigns are very unpredictable, and we have launched at the most unprecedented times. We were supposed to launch our campaign in April 2020 however we took this time to learn a lot about the crowdfunding process and understand how it works in detail.

The phrase ‘you must spend money to make money’ had a whole new meaning after launching the campaign. Launching a brand means investing money and taking risks. It is important to plan this well in advance so that you plan your finances way in advance.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I would highly recommend 10 design principles by Dieter Rams to anyone passionate about product design and innovation.

Articles written by various tech Journalists & Influencers like Dan Seifert, Kimber Streams & Product reviews (of similar niche products) served as a guide while we were designing our product.

Books like Zero to One & The Lean Startup where books are also very useful for anyone looking for some guidance.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I would definitely ask all entrepreneurs to

Make a decision, even if it is not perfect. We faced a lot of delays in our project because we wanted to make a decision that was the ‘perfect’ one. However, not making a decision is often more harmful than making a wrong decision and perfectionism can often be the enemy of progress.

Be honest and transparent in their dealings with their team members, suppliers & consumers. As a new brand building trust and a strong relationship with people is very important to sustain your business in the long run.

Believe in themselves and their Idea first. If you are convinced about your idea & product, then it will be extremely easy to get consumers to like your product/service.

And lastly, be patient. Building a brand takes a lot of time and hard work, and good results take time.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Want to a sell leather accessories ? Learn more ➜