Naiyya Saggi is the Co-founder of BabyChakra, an online platform that connects parents to services and products to make parenting a less tedious affair.
The idea culminated when a lot of her friends became parents. She also noticed multiple facebook groups that were strewn with questions ranging from parenting to paediatrics. Armed with an MBA from Harvard Business School and a law degree from NLS, this young lady is determined to dent the $20 billion maternity-child market. YourStory caught up with Naiyya as she shares her insight about BabyChakra.
YS: Why did you start BabyChakra?
NS: Technology has changed how we discover food, housing and transport. We felt it was time to leverage technology to make decisions around parenting easier. Hence, BabyChakra.
Currently focused on the $20 B maternity-child market, BabyChakra helps the 30 million mums (and dads) online make decisions on doctors, hospitals, cord blood banks, playschools, activities, events, products etc. Strong social integration, an evolving tech platform and a focus on reviews help parents make decisions easier.
For the two lakh+ local services in this space, BabyChakra is a unique product that aggregates them and connects them to their specific target audience.
We launched BabyChakra Beta in Mumbai three months ago. Even before our official launch, we had transactions happening with local services and mothers through our platform.
So far we’ve seen 10,000 unique visitors and 45,000+ page views. We list 800+ services. We have a fantastic panel of experts and contributors who create articles for BabyChakra regularly and have 250+ original articles relevant to the Indian parent.
YS: Any personal experience that motivated you to start the venture?
NS: We observed two trends.
1. A lot of our friends were becoming parents and parenting was a whole new world, very different from the one they knew. Nothing had prepared them for the experience especially since most young couples live in nuclear families and are geographically and aspirationally mobile.
2. They had multiple questions, and our Facebook feeds were flooded with queries specific to parenting (e.g. good paediatricians, OB-GYNs, playschools, day cares, event managers and even technical services like lactation consultants, special therapists, and cord blood banks etc.)
Digging deeper, we realised there are hundreds of Facebook groups devoted to questions around parenting. While not a surprise (my public health experience had taught me that 9 to 5 is a period of maximum information asymmetry) seeing just how stressful and time-consuming finding quality services and products has propelled us to create BabyChakra.
We are the first one-stop platform for all the information you need on services and shops in your locality for maternity and child care.
YS: Explain the value proposition of BabyChakra in detail?
NS: The maternity-young child space is US $20 B but incredibly disaggregated and unregulated. Through a high level of social integration, young parents use us to discover services they need (e.g. doctors, playschools, and daycares etc.) or don’t even realize they need but once discovered use them (e.g. lactation help, nutritionists, family photographers, and toy libraries etc.) in their locality. The parent can read reviews, connect with the reviewer on our platform and also with our panel of experts.
Services use us to connect with the moving target of parents and sell their service to them. For parents, needs keep changing rapidly as the child grows. For services to connect with a moving audience is often an expensive proposition. Services based on trust (e.g. doctors, playschools, and daycares etc.) are limited by word of mouth references. BabyChakra is the one platform that connects and introduces parents to local services relevant to them.
YS: How did you validate the need for a solution like BabyChakra? Talk about the research you have done?
NS: Before we launched our product, my co-founder and I talked to ~600 mothers and 200 services to map out the need. At present, while the product itself is in Beta and is a MVP, in the last three months since the site launch, we’ve seen incredible traction. We also have strategic partnerships with some major brands, services and large format retailers that indicate their belief in a product like ours.
Two other examples of need: the day we moved to our hosting server, three days before even officially announcing the launch, we had 90 sign-ups on our site. It meant parents were tracking our URL closely and waiting to use our product! Moreover, it’s been great to note that while we target mothers (we think of them as early adopters) we’ve had an equal male population on our site so far!
YS: Are there similar players in other markets? Did you take inspiration from any of these ideas?
NS: There are players that operate in this target demographic in the US, e.g. Urban Sitter, Weespring, and Red Tricycle etc. In India, there are a few sites that list services in the older children’s space. However, BabyChakra is unique in being highly socially integrated and a quality parenting platform and not just a listings site. We are positioned very differently and you will see how in the coming months.
YS: What are your plans to expand?
NS: Our initial pilot has been in Mumbai. We are moving fast and you can expect to see more of us nationally soon. Our plan is to eventually be a global product.
We’ve been featured in the ‘Economic Times’, Radio Mirchi and on Startup UK. In fact, the ‘Economic Times’ is currently doing a Case Study on us. We’ve partnered with organizations like Hamleys (a leading large format toy retailer), and NM Medical etc. on offline events. These have provided great touch points to meet many of our website members in person who came out to support us!
YS: Have you made any fundraising efforts?
NS: We are in fundraising talks with angel investors in India and the US. We are focused on partnering with investors who share our vision and passion for the space and product. We’ve been fortunate to connect with some great investors.
Separately, we've been fortunate to be provided co-working space by the Digital Media Zone (an Accelerator program sponsored by the Bombay Stock Exchange and Ryerson University). The office and incredible peer-set is a step above our earlier home-office set-up.
YS: Tell us about your co-founder and your team?
NS: Mitesh and I go way back. We are high school friends. He is a graduate from SRCC, has an MBA from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, and has over seven years of global corporate banking experience with Citi and HSBC.
I am a graduate from the Harvard Business School (MBA 2012) where I was a Fulbright and J.N. Tata scholar. I worked for four plus years at McKinsey & The Bridgespan Group in Boston. My areas of passion have always been healthcare and education: both in the for-profit and non-profit realm.
As full-time entrepreneurs, my Co-founder (Mitesh) and I are currently living, breathing and thinking BabyChakra!
We are a six-member team and are privileged to have a set of rockstars build BabyChakra with us. We are looking for tech hackers to quickly take the product to the next level. If you have it in you to create a truly revolutionary product and change the lives of millions of parents, shoot us an email on Naiyya@babychakra.com. We promise an experience of a lifetime.