Cyril Feuillebois, who came to India to study, stayed back to start Kronokare, a natural line of skin and hair care products. The brand now has a presence on all major online portals, and the client list includes hotels, spas, and salons.
At a glance
Founder: Cyril Feuillebois
Year it was founded: 2008
Where is it based: Delhi
The problem it solves: Natural and eco-friendly skin care
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
Cyril Feuillebois would never have thought that his trip to India to study at IIM Lucknow in 2003 would lead to him becoming an entrepreneur, and making India his second home. Born and brought up in France, Cyril is the Founder of Kronokare, a skin and hair care brand that uses French technology to cater to India skin types and its needs. However, the most significant thing about Cyril’s journey is his patience and perseverance – this allowed him to bootstrap for a decade.
The 39-year-old who came to India to study decided to stay back since he fell in love with the county. He set himself up in Delhi, embraced entrepreneurship, and got started with his first venture in 2007, a mobile spa. “We ran LSA Home Care for five years and that’s how I acquired the will and expertise in hair and skin care products,” he says. That’s when he started to make his own massage oils and his famous 100 percent natural face packs.
“One of the challenges I faced was sourcing the right oils for his spa. At the time, the market was flooded with low-quality products or overpriced imported goods. Also, most skin and hair oils originated from Ayurveda alone. No brand was offering scientifically researched aroma and precious oils, at an affordable price,” he says.
The decision to launch his own range of products followed soon after.
Founded in 2008, the brand derives its name from Chronos, the God of Time in Greek mythology. Inspired by natural remedies, Kronokare provides natural, unisex, environment-friendly, and affordable products suited to the Indian environment and skin tones such as shampoos, body lotions, face creams, hair oils etc.
The products are designed from scratch with Cyril taking lead as the product designer. The product journey - from the idea to being put on the shelf - takes about 12-18 months.
Cyril sources some rare oils and extracts directly from countries like Brazil, Sweden, France, and Italy. His products are paraben, mineral oil, silicone, and sulphate free. From creating the formula, its use, texture, fragrance, ingredients, and packaging – everything is done by the team. It is then handed over to the manufacturers. The brand collaborates with different manufacturers, depending on the product type. Certain products, such as hand sanitisers, require special vendors with an alcohol licence. They manufacture in Haridwar, Gurgaon, and Kolkata depending on product requirement; the corporate office is in Delhi.
Starting up is not easy and Cyril faced multiple challenges too. Catering to B2B market meant large volumes and large storage needs and as a dormant asset, it was a drain on cash flow. His other big challenge was putting together a team.
“The struggle was to create an efficient and multi-talented team. In a small company, team members needed to multitask. It took a while to find the right fit, but today Kronokare has a solid foundation of incredible talent,” he says.
The team consists of 12 members; the oldest of them has completed 10 years with the company.
Cyril started Kronokare with an investment of Rs 4 lakh. “Our growth has been as organic as our products. Today we are making a turnover in crores. The company is investing wisely and slowly,” he shares. Their clients include hotels, corporates, spas, and salons.
Kronokare is present on all major online retail portals and is also working with major hair and skin care specialised retailers such as Nykaa and Purplle. However, selling the products offline has been a challenge. The brand retails through a network of shops that stock Kronokare products through retailers such as Apollo, Koncept, and Max Chemist. They also have a retail showroom in Delhi and a gift shop in Mumbai and Goa in the hotel chain The Lalit.
The company has also received requests from potential clients in Malaysia, Dubai, Germany, USA, Hong Kong, and Iran. “The inquiries from various countries led to cementing projects for export. Locally, in India, the aim is to massively expand the product range of spa and salon products in order to increase the market share in this segment,” Cyril says.
In the future, the company may consider a franchise model to accelerate expansion plans.
Funding is the need of the hour for this bootstrapped business.
“We have spent almost a decade and been self-sustainable. We have self-financed all our developments and expansions. At this stage of its business cycle, Kronokare needs investors. Financial investors are crucial. But, more than them, what the company needs at the moment are strategic investors. People with relevant experience in the sector, and a great network. ”
The funding will help them to penetrate further in both the B2B and B2C segment, enter new geographies, expand the team, streamline inventory, and create new avenues for sourcing of raw materials.
“Eight years ago, our claim was making an echo with only a very small audience. Today, everyone seems to be in search of natural and chemical-free hair and skin care. We have also always focused on the environment while providing recyclable packaging, which again was not a major concern a few years back,” he says. With more exposure and disposable incomes, the market has definitely expanded as Indians have become more conscious of natural, organic, and ayurvedic products.
By 2035, the Indian market for beauty, cosmetics and grooming will touch $35 billion from today’s $6.5 billion, states a 2017 ASSOCHAM report.
The market is growing and so is the competition. Companies manufacturing organic and natural products have been growing. The catch will be to differentiate through product offering and great quality. A decade of experience as a bootstrapped entrepreneur should hold Cyril in good stead in this race.