Subscription e-commerce startup for men’s grooming products raises funding from Microsoft India MD, Letsbuy founders
The Man Company is a content-based subscription e-commerce platform for men’s grooming and essentials. Consumers have the flexibility to periodically get products delivered to them based on their usage. The startup was co-founded by Mohit Saxena, Bhisham Bhateja, and Parvesh Bareja.
Mohit functions as the CEO and has an advertising background with management positions at Lowe and TBWA. He was also the Founder and ex-CEO of Snowball (a closed user group e-commerce for corporates). Bhisham who functions as the COO, is an e-commerce professional who had set up and managed operation processes for companies such as Fabfurnish and Letsbuy.
The story so far
The startup launched to the public about 10 days ago after being in closed beta for sometime. The Man Company recently attracted angel investors – Karan Bajwa – MD of Microsoft India, Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager – India, Airbnb and Manish Vij, Founder CEO – SVG Media. They join Parves Bareja, Director, Helios Packaging, Dinesh Singh, IIT alumnus and ex Hindustan Lever, who has international and domestic experience in cosmetic, toiletries, and perfumes manufacturing, and Hitesh Dhingra, Co-Founder, TrulyMadly, in investing in the start-up. Amanpreet and Hitesh earlier co-founded Letsbuy.com, which was bought over by Flipkart.
The startup aims to offer convenience and choice by combining technology, premium products and engaging content to make their service 'sticky' for customers. While speaking to YourStory Mohit and Bhisham stressed on the need for a men's-only brand and service as currently there are few brands that focus on their entire grooming needs. They added, "By and large men end up consuming brands that are meant for women."
So they decided to create their own brand of products for men. They found that unlike in the case of women’s grooming products, men have a limited range to choose from and have to switch brands to cover all their needs. Mohit says "The Man Company provides a range of quality grooming products with multiple essential oil variants in each product line. The range includes shampoos, body washes, face washes, hair gels, shaving gels, and soaps. The other product lines will be added as a continuous process of creating a complete head-to-toe grooming solution for men."
From their market studies they found that men are now paying greater attention to their grooming and personal care needs. Common issues for men who in general do not like to shop are availability and affordability. Mohit added, “While men are consumers of this category, shopping for it is not necessarily high on their ‘to-do’ list. We are providing an option for people to try out products and then subscribe to them. We ensure that it reaches them at their predefined frequency without ever having to go and shop for them again. This convenience, we believe, is a big value-add to the way men buy grooming products.”
Subscription commerce can be divided into different categories. One of them is the 'sampling model' which allow subscribers to receive new products and samples. They are found mainly in beauty and food sector. Products and samples are delivered in 'surprise boxes.' In this case, subscription commerce companies have two customers. Subscribers who want to discover new products and brands who want to promote their new products. Then there is market for general and premium consumer products that have fixed monthly or weekly cycles.
The male grooming market in India is expected to grow to Rs 5,300 crore by 2016, according to a study by Euromonitor International.. Unlike in the past when men’s grooming used to be clubbed with women’s essentials, it is now considered a high-involvement category. With the growth of e-commerce in India and the increase in purchasing power, more and more men are exploring options and variety in grooming and essentials products. The demand is not limited by geography or purchasing power.
Dollar Shave Club in the US provides subscription services for razors and other men care products. They have so far raised about $148M in funding. Then there are BirchBox and JolieBox, which are some of the recent successes in subscription commerce. Closer home in India, Fab Bag (earlier known as Vellvette) is a subscription commerce startup for women's beauty products. Late last year they announced that they had raised about half a million dollars from the angel investor Rajan Anandan, Nakul Gupta and the India Quotient Fund.
Related read from 2014: Is it the ‘right place and the right time’ for subscription commerce in India?
The Man Company allows customers to customise their products basket to suit their needs, set the frequency of their order, and revise or cancel their subscription any time they want to. Also for men who are not too sure about what to buy or need grooming tips or other advice, the startup runs 'The Man Mag' a blog which generates customised content around what men like to consume. The blog includes original content and content aggregated from external sources. Grooming and grooming tips, life hacks, travel, food and wine, sex and relationships, technology, auto, health and fitness, etc., are some of the subjects they are touching upon. Mohit and Bhisham confirmed that the blog is mainly to create awareness and are not looking at it as a source of revenue.
The startup considers their main target audience to be men in the age group of 25–37 years and plan to reach out to them through online marketing campaigns and other initiatives. Mohit also confirmed that they are in the process of launching a mobile app to make it more convenient for customers to tweak their orders on the go and also catch up on their reading.
Related read from 2014: 5 growth hack tips for e-commerce stores