How a disgruntled customer inspired a serial entrepreneur to set up Aromablendz
The first thing that occurs to one when the words rejuvenation and relaxation are uttered is a holiday. However, if you’re pressed for time and cannot really take off on a vacation, the next best thing is spending a day at the spa, pampering your body and mind. Reports state that globally, the spa market space is nearly $2 trillion. Cutting a share of this pie is Aromablendz.
“Aromablendz was born out of a sheer absence of quality products in the mid-level segment of spa goods. The market was flooded with cheap parlor products, as well as brands like Forest Essentials that cater to luxury Ayurveda,” says Viraf Tavadia, Founder of Aromablendz, an online marketplace for spa products.
Birth of Aromablendz
There is a very interesting story attached to the birth of Aromablendz. Viraf says that it came about when he was running his fitness and wellness company, which provided services like personal trainers, gym setups, club house management, spa setup and spa management. Narrating an incident that led him to understand the need for quality spa products, Viraf says:
“In one of our spa management contracts in Thane, a client developed an allergy which gave her rashes. The angry client also happened to be the wife of a government executive from Thane. By the time I reached the centre, her husband had summoned the cops and I was taken in. While I tried explaining that the products were from a third party vendor, it did not help my case. To make matters worse, the vendors completely washed their hands off the problem. I realised that I was stuck at a crossroads there; I could change the vendor, close my spa management division or begin to use my own products and understand what ingredients went into this.”
Needless to say, Viraf chose the last option.
Addressing the market
Currently, Aromablendz targets day and hotel spas, as well as high-end salons, and three- and four-star hotel chains. Viraf adds that with the number of new spa and salon chains entering the Indian market, he believes that they are in the right space. He also adds that while an online marketplace, Aromablendz has its own panel of aroma therapists, who can customise products according to the needs of the customer.
Initially the revenue model was transactional. However, now, they are looking at an annual contract agreement with a MQC every month, or an invoice value, corresponding to certain discounts. “Our average ticket size ranges from Rs 2000 to Rs10000 per client. A certain percent of our revenue will still come from retail customers through online and direct sales,” adds Viraf.
Challenges and way forward
According to Viraf, one of the biggest challenges he has faced so far is managing different aspects of the business without any funding. He adds that getting vendors to be open and register with them to sell their products on an online platform has been difficult. “I have travelled close to 1500 km to meet manufacturers,” adds Viraf. He also adds that getting a share in the pie in the high-end spa and hotel network is difficult as they have had to compete with bigger brands.
The spa and wellness market
India is believed to be one of the fastest-growing markets in the segment for spa and wellness. In fact, as of 2011, the hair and beauty salon industry alone consisted of 35 per cent of the market share. Reports suggest that there already are over 289 million spa and wellness consumers in over 30 countries across the world. Many believe that the rising affluence of the middle class is a great contributor to the growth of this space.
“Currently, I am focused on getting like-minded people on board, growing at the rate of 100% year after year for the next five years, and acquiring up to three to eight percent market share in our target segment,” he concludes.