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Startup

TintBox offers a healthier, sustainable alternative to plastic lunch boxes and bottles

Athira Nair
20th Feb 2018
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Mumbai-based Ridhi Singhai decided to think inside the box for her brand’s core offering – silicone-clad borosilicate glass lunch boxes and water bottles that are eco-friendly, non-toxic, and chemically inactive.

At a glance:

Startup: TintBox

Based in: Mumbai

Founder: Ridhi Singhai

Sector: Lifestyle

Launch: September 2017

Funding: Bootstrapped

Everyone these days knows why we need to kick plastic. Awareness about the harmful effects of plastic products, be it hormonal imbalances, obesity, hair fall, lead toxicity and even cancer, is increasing among educated consumers. Glass is the only safe, inert, and natural alternative, but consumers are wary due to breakage issues. But what if you could have unbreakable glass products that could help avoid all the ill-effects of plastics?

This idea gave way to TintBox, the only brand in India with borosilicate glass lunch boxes and bottles. The outer protective silicone sleeve ensures they don’t break even after falling. Ridhi Singhai, 30, from Mumbai, is the brain behind TintBox – Think Inside the Box!

Ridhi was working in TCS as a systems analyst for about five years when the entrepreneurial bug bit her. Always an eco-conscious person, she was tired of seeing the rampant use of plastics in everyday objects, especially in things related to food and water. She started research on alternatives and found that even the BPA-free plastic was a marketing gimmick.

Ridhi says, “All kinds of plastics are harmful and leach toxic chemicals into our food (which increases manifold when heated in microwave or hot food is packed in them). This causes hormonal imbalances in the human body, leading to diseases.”

The mother of a five-year-old, she wanted to chuck all daily use plastic ware from her kitchen. After first ditching plastic lunchboxes, she bought a set of glass lunchboxes. But they broke within two months. Obviously, there was a need for unbreakable glass.

Ridhi is not from a business family, but her zeal led her to quit her job to realise her vision of the perfect – and healthy - lunchbox and bottle. After research of two and half years, TintBox was launched in September 2017.

Elaborate process

The first step was to get a good designer who could shape Ridhi’s vision. After considering many, she met a renowned designer who was visiting from Australia in Bengaluru. With this award-winning product designer, TintBox was born – at least on paper (and software). But it was only after two-and-a-half years of designing, prototyping, testing, and retesting, that they got the final TintBox lunchbox.

TintBox is bootstrapped, with about Rs 1.5 crore invested so far. Ridhi had ample support from her family – and not just financially. Her father is a material science expert and has helped make perfect products. He also manages finance, logistics, QA, and operations with the help of a three-member team. Ridhi takes care of branding, marketing and communications, and new product development. Her husband is a banker and expert in marketing, strategy, digital innovations, helps in building and growing channels of business.

They did not outsource anything - from coining the name and creating the brand logo to designing the bag and the website, everything was done in-house. But giving the best quality products with all possible features at the right price point was quite a task.

For the conscious customer

Creating awareness about their products and the ill-effects of plastics on a limited budget was not easy.

Ridhi says, “Even with entrenched competitors like Borosil and Tupperware around, we are glad that we have successfully created a niche for ourselves in the mind space of our target customers who are health-conscious, modern, discerning, well-travelled, and have international sensibilities. It could be a corporate employee, school or college-goer, smart homemaker, sports person etc.”

TintBox’s offerings are priced between Rs 650 and Rs 2,500. Currently TintBox sells only online (through their own website and on Amazon). They have tied up with FedEx for deliveries across India.

Ridhi claims that they are already in Amazon’s ‘Choice List’ which enlists products on account of uniqueness, quality, seller feedback, and minimum or nil returns.

Ridhi Singhai, Founder and CEO, Tintbox.

“Within two to three months of going live on Amazon, we have already reached more than 90 orders every day. Some other popular internet portals have also got in touch to partner with us as they came across our products in some offline exhibitions we put up in corporate offices and premium residential societies,” she says.

Going forward, TintBox plans to take up a 360-degree digital marketing campaign to create awareness and reach out to their target customer segment. The startup is also aiming for strategic tie-ups with more online properties.

Unique differentiation

Ridhi claims that TintBox is the first company in India dealing in Borosilicate glassware with the protective silicone sleeve concept. “Glass is made out of sand, hence is totally eco-friendly,” she says. 

Currently, they have two categories: Borosilicate glass lunch box with protective silicone sleeve, 300ml; and Borosilicate glass bottle with protective silicone sleeve, 750ml.

Ridhi says that both items are eco-friendly, non-toxic, and inert alternatives to plastic lunch boxes, and will not leach toxins like BPA, BPS, phthalate, vinyl, and polystyrene. They can be used in microwave ovens and dishwashers, and can go from the fridge to the microwave and back. The silicone sleeve makes them easy to hold after being heated in the microwave. She says both products are odour and stain resistant, easy to clean, and do not wear out for years.

According to Ridhi, TintBox does not have any direct competition in products. "Our products are lifestyle products designed for upwardly mobile and internationally travelled discerning customers who are with the times and who want the best for themselves. It's like an accessory for those who love themselves es and their health," she says.

The next chapter

TintBox has more products in the pipeline, but these will need a substantial investment. The team is already in talks with some angel investors and VCs. Currently they are a lean team with a corporate office and warehouse in Ahmedabad. They plan to keep adding members to the team at the right time as per the requirement and scale.

At present, TintBox’s GMV is around Rs 40 lakh per month. They are aiming for GMV of Rs 1 crore per month this year. The startup wants to consolidate the Indian market before expanding abroad.

Ridhi is delighted with the response. “Without any marketing, TintBox products are beginning to be known for their quality. Customers giving us compliments like they have never seen any such thing in the Indian market before are our biggest success,” she smiles.

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