These entrepreneurs did not have to look too far to find the perfect co-founders.
A big determining factor in the success of a startup is the rapport shared by the co-founders and their ability to form a synergetic team. The startups covered in this story have founding teams related either by blood or matrimony. These co-founders form a solid team and are doing superlative work in their space.
Cornucopia, started by sisters Ayesha and Manisha Desai in January 2017, can be described as a do-good movement that recycles clothes to encourage a low-wastage lifestyle while also being a commercial venture. The Cornucopia team helps transform old and unused T-shirts, bedsheets, dupattas, or sarees into aesthetically pleasing patchwork quilts, baby blankets, and bed covers.
Recalling how they started off, Manisha says, “It all started with a trunk. For years, we had been saving all our ‘never to be thrown’ keepsake clothes in this old trunk back home. Year after year, there would be additions until our mother put her foot down and ordered a spring cleaning. We still couldn’t bear to part with them. Some reminded us of our wild, carefree (and thin!) days while others evoked fond memories of friends. Then it hit us that we can have our cake and eat it too! We cut up all those clothes and made a bright and colourful patchwork quilt!”
What started with a single quilt snowballed into something the sisters didn’t quite expect. Friends and relatives started giving them their old clothes and they repurposed them all. Cornucopia’s mission is to get people to look at their possessions in a new light and rethink their consumption patterns. Through their products, the Cornucopia team encourages people to try and extend the life cycle of their clothes, thereby reducing excessive consumerism.
is how the two founders describe their personalities. Ayesha, 38, and Manisha, 36, claim they have nothing in common despite the rhyming names! They have different interests and stay in different cities, but Ayesha and Manisha did find common ground in their profession. They have both been into social work for over 15 years. The sisters are based out of Gurgaon and Pune and have a clothes pick-up facility for Gurgaon, Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai. Apart from this, people can also send in their clothes from anywhere in the country.
Read more about Cornucopia here
Since her childhood, Arushi Sethi had seen her mother, Anureet Sethi, an acclaimed psychologist with over 30 years of experience, help people in bettering their mental health. Anureet dreamed of a society free from the stigma surrounding mental health and wanted to make quality care accessible to all.
In 2014, during her final year of BMM, Arushi had to create a dummy company for her ad design project. Wondering if she could use that opportunity to start something impactful, she approached her mother. Together, they started Trijog — Know Your Mind Pvt. Ltd., a social organisation for mental healthcare.
Today, Trijog is a mental wellness platform that provides counselling online or over the phone for issues like stress, depression, and anxiety, which a big chunk of society suffers from. With a team of 20 psychologists working for the platform, Trijog has made a difference in the lives of thousands of clients by offering therapy without compromising on their confidentiality. Located in Powai, Mumbai, Trijog has clients from all over the country and has also attracted individuals from other countries such as Dubai, Singapore, Korea, and the Philippines.
Read more about Trijog here.
When Ruchi Jha, 32, decided to move out of the corporate world and take her entrepreneurial plunge, she knew she did not have to look far for a co-founder — her mother-in-law, Renuka Kumari, 63, was the ideal choice for the job. Parent-child and sibling pairs of co-founders are quite common in the startup world; a saas-bahu combination not as much. Ruchi explains,
My mother-in-law hails from Darbhanga, the heartland of Madhubani art. A retired professor of botany, she is passionate about the art form, just like me. So, she was the perfect choice to co-found iMithila.
iMithila was established in mid-2016 and is a part of the Startup India initiative. Ruchi is based out of iMithila’s corporate office in Noida and handles the front end of the business. Since Renuka lives in Darbhanga, she largely handles the production side of the business and liaises with the artists, who hail from that area.
iMithila is a team of 10 working in Noida and Delhi, along with around 40 artists who are a part of the production unit in Darbhanga. The iMithila team provides the artists with the fabrics and raw materials, and their in-house designers decide which painting would work well on a particular product.
Ruchi says, “However, we do not deviate from the traditional art style. The surface might be new, but the painting is created lovingly by hand in the classic style.”
The iMithila team ships five to eight products every working day with an average ticket size of Rs 2,000. Though primarily an e-commerce store, iMithila has its presence in a couple of multi-brand outlets too.
Read more about iMithila here.
D’chica, founded by sisters-in-law Vani Chugh and Richa Kapila, was started with the intention of offering quality products in a sector flooded with cheap Chinese goods. Established in June 2014, D’chica is a bootstrapped player that has grown rapidly and made a mark in the segment. The brand currently offers products in four key categories, namely footwear, apparel, hair accessories, and jewellery for girls. Richa works out of their office in Delhi, while Vani is based in Mumbai.
Vani, an alumna of the Film and Television Institute of India and a former journalist, handles the marketing and sales side of the business. Richa, with her design background, is the creative brain of the startup. Richa is married to Vani’s younger brother. Richa, 26, says, “My niece Devyani (Vani’s daughter) is my muse. D’chica has its genesis from the pieces I created for her. At the same time, Vani was finding it difficult to find quality options while shopping for Devyani. So, we felt that this segment had a lot of potential.”
The brand retails through major e-commerce portals including Hopscotch, FirstCry, Amazon, and Jabong. The products also sell through FirstCry’s brick-and-mortar stores.
Vani, 35, says, “Now we are selling an average of over 7,000 SKUs a month. Apart from making a mark in the metros, the overwhelming response from tier-2 and tier-3 towns such as Indore, Vizag, Visakhapatnam, Patna, and Shillong has been a pleasant surprise.”
D’chica currently has three office spaces in Delhi and a sales office in Mumbai. Both the founders make it a point to meet up at least once a month since they are based out of different cities. The positives of working with somebody who is a close family member are many. Vani says,
We have a good rapport since I knew Richa even before she married my brother. She was a part of our family’s extended friend circle and so that rapport passes into our work relationship as well.
Read more about D’Chica here.