The Lifestyle Brand Making Slippers Cool

Child wearing Mahabis slippers

[This article is from the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]

We caught up with King’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner Ankur Shah (Law, 2003) to discuss the success of his Mahabis slipper brand and the importance of quality downtime.

Ankur Shah

Ankur’s entrepreneurial career began with a bet. Could he and a friend sell a new app idea within one week? They could, and the company that resulted, Techlightenment, went on to become a global leader in social marketing, selling to Experian – one of the largest information services companies in the world – in 2011.

The idea for Ankur’s current venture came as he was taking some time out, looking for somewhere new to invest his energy and capital. ‘I was wearing some terrible slippers at the time,’ he recalls, ‘so I started to do some research; it seemed like there’d been no innovation in slippers for 200 years and I couldn’t name a single slipper brand.’ For Ankur, there was only one solution: ‘I decided to make the world’s best slippers.’

His slipper company, Mahabis, launched in July 2014 and quickly became a success. In just three years Mahabis reached half a million customers in 100 countries by selling directly to them online. The growing demand has meant that Ankur is now expanding from his original model, with Mahabis selling through online retailer Amazon and being stocked in 50 Nordstrom stores across the US. There are also plans to extend the range further, and roll out retail partnerships worldwide.

Mahabis Classic

Curiosity is a key motivator for Ankur, who loves the fact that his career has taken him to unexpected places, from dealing with the US tech giants of Silicon Valley to discovering that Portugal is a manufacturing hub for quality footwear.
‘I would never have imagined while I was studying at King’s that I would end up selling slippers,’ he said, and recommends that would-be entrepreneurs ‘just take the leap. If you have an idea go for it, because you never know where you’re going to end up’.
The Mahabis brand describes itself as being ‘dedicated to your downtime’, and looks to be the place ‘you go to when you want to switch off, put your feet up, and see the world for what it is’. Aware of the stresses that large cities like London place on people, Ankur says he is keen for his business to practise what it preaches, taking a flexible approach to managing working hours and encouraging employees to work from home one day a week.

‘Work is not the be all and end all,’ Ankur said, ‘We want to build a brand that encourages people to put the phone down and to not let work dominate.’

Read more about all of our Distinguished Alumni Award Winners 2018.