A recent article about the TechSparks 2012 expert panel highlighted the debate between Google’s Gautam Gandhi and Sequoia Capital’s Shailendra Singh regarding the importance of scaling. Shailendra spoke to the popular notion that entrepreneurs hear so often from business leaders and mentors: that the goal of any startup company is to achieve scale. Gautam challenged this position, arguing instead that the most important thing for an entrepreneur is to do what he loves and what motivates him; scaling by “capturing the market” should come only as a byproduct, if at all.
In an interview with the founder of Krya Sustainable Goodies, manufacturer of an all-natural organic laundry detergent, we discovered a manifestation of Gautam’s philosophy.
Founders Preethi and Srini are city people. They understand and enjoy the benefits of living in a city: the convenience, the fast pace, the proximity of businesses and people. Yet they also understand the drawbacks: the high concentration of people in a limited area makes sustainable living a challenge. “For the past few years… we’ve really been interested in finding ways to be sustainable in our lives,” Srini explained in our recent chat with him. So like all good entrepreneurs, Preethi and Srini sought a business solution to this challenge, and in May 2010 they left their corporate jobs and founded Krya.
Today, Krya produces goods that address the issue of sustainable city living, and does so in a way that doesn’t alter the lifestyle of the consumer. Its main product is a laundry detergent that is one hundred percent plant based – it is all natural, vegan, and is made from certified organic products. In contrast to the toxic products you probably have tucked away in your cabinets at home, when you use Krya you can be sure you are using a practically zero-harm product, both in its production as well as in its consumption, both to the environment as well as to the individual.
The trick is the soapberry, from which ninety-seven percent of their detergent powder is produced. “Soapberries have been used for thousands of year in India, in China, and all over Asia,” Srini explained. “So it occurred to us that if a solution that has been around for three thousand years, and it works well for us, surely there are going to be other people who are going to [use] it.”
The soapberries are brought down from an organic farm in Andrah Pradesh to the Krya office in Chennai to be processed and packaged. The berries are sun-dried, ground into a powder, and combined with just a touch of organic calcium carbonate to keep the powder dry. Just like that, they produce a quality, natural, environmentally clean product.
Perhaps more important than what you get when you purchase a package of Krya detergent is what you don’t get. You do not, for instance, receive any petroleum-based surfactants, fillers, bleaches, or other potentially harmful chemicals that you get with a lot of other detergents. “These [petroleum-based] detergents produce very toxic loads, on water systems, on clothes, on human skin,” Srini told us. So while you’re using Krya, you can be sure that you are not only keeping the environment clean, but also not doing any harm to yourself in the process. Once you are done and your clothes are clean and fresh, simply dump the residue in your garden and hang the cotton pouch to dry for the next batch.Krya is now focused on expanding their inventory to include an entire kitchen product line including dishwashing soap, soap cleaners, etc., with the goal of completely removing harmful chemicals from the household. “We have people who are very happy with our product and absolutely clamoring for other related products,” Srini explained. “Getting out the next couple of products… is absolutely critical for us.”
So how does this story relate to the entrepreneurial school of thought that you should do what you love over doing what will scale? Well, when we asked Srini what his goals were for the future of his bootstrapped company, funding was not on his mind.
“You know they’re two different animals: what a company would be with VC funding and what a company would be without… We’re happy doing it our own way.”
Krya was founded out of a passion for creating environmentally friendly products and creating a more sustainable lifestyle. This passion, Srini said, is the most important thing for an entrepreneur to have. “You need to ask yourself,” he explained, “can you do this for three to five years without expecting financial rewards?”
There is a key difference between someone who has a passion, and someone who seeks financial gain or scalability. So Srini posed a fundamental question to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Are you building this company with the idea to get funding and to get an IPO, or do you want to give this company to your kids?” For Srini, the answer stems from the latter. And with the goal to continue as self-funded and keep the company within the family, Srini and Preethi can only hope that their nine-month-old daughter develops the same passion and love for Krya that they have.
Want to make your homelife more sustainable?