In a year, Chennai-based WeetGroup builds a Rs 6-crore businessVishal Krishna
Inspired by questions on his website, Ganesh Kumar, a mechanical engineer, started up with a brand offering beauty products and consumer durables.
Entrepreneurship on his mind, Ganesh Kumar set up media company Weetnow in early 2016 to provide information on women’s health and lifestyle.
Being a digital marketer with a degree in mechanical engineering, he built the Weetnow news website, and brought in experts to write about women’s issues. With a following of 12 million readers, he soon realised that products could be the way forward. Comments on articles – mostly queries about alternatives to existing women’s skincare brands – led to his lightbulb moment.
“I realised that this was a business idea, and travelled to China to consider bringing in creams and durables that would be useful for Indian women,” says 27-year-old Ganesh, the Founder of Weet Group, which is the group company that controls a media website, an ecommerce store, and houses five brands.
Between 2012 and 2016, Ganesh worked in startups (he does not want to name them) and learnt how to run a business. He learnt marketing, operations, and - most importantly - distribution.
He started WeetGroup started with an investment of Rs 1.2 crore from his savings and his family’s funds. He soon launched Weetmart, a platform where the company sells products directly to customers. The company’s first offering was WeetoHair.
“We launched WeetoHair, a bun maker capable of providing seven-plus hairstyles,” he says, adding that their first customer on the ecommerce portal was Hetal Patel, a woman from Bhuj, Gujarat.
There was no looking back from there, especially with his father backing him.
Journeying across Chinese factories led him to realise that he could create his own brands if he worked on R&D with a few consultants. He returned to the factories with two ideas - acne removal creams and rapid steam for ironing.
“The diverse product line is because data from my media website WeetNow told me that women wanted these specific types of products,” says Ganesh.
By April 2017, Ganesh began shipping acne removal and foot peel-off masks under the brand names Laknew and Glaze Foot (in-house brands designed in India, manufactured in China). Both these products were priced at Rs 1,499 per unit. Laknew reached more than 5-000 plus customers within a few months of its launch in 2018.
He also started shipping a product that could replace the traditional iron. This device, branded as RapidSteam2000 and priced at Rs 3,999, is designed for Indian conditions. It lets users steam-press expensive suits/gowns without worrying about spills, burns or other marks.
A year later, his products are rated as Amazon’s Choice on the internet giant’s website. The company has shipped 22,000 products in a year and reported a revenue of Rs 6 crore.
WeetGroup currently sells five of its own products - WeetoHair, Laknew, Glazefoot, Rapid2000, Dentpik - on Weetmart apart from other skin care brands. The company also uses WeetNow to market the brand with native advertising and stories.
Ganesh claims Weetmart sells 100-plus products a day and will increase its sales to 1,000 products over the next 12-15 months. He soon plans to launch Weetkart for the US/UK markets. He, however, does not want to disclose the timeline for the launch of the new products.
The company makes a net margin of 10 percent on its business with spends going into marketing and manufacturing costs. It is yet to break even.
According to market research firm Statista, skincare is a big opportunity in India with the market opportunity being $5 billion. IBEF, meanwhile, pegs the consumer durables market at $15.5 billion.
The main competition for Ganesh came from Ava, Fit&Glow, and Mcaffeine. All three brands are available on Amazon and retail in stores.
Harminder Sahni, Founder of Wazir Advisors, a retail consulting company, says: “All new brands in Indian are using a combination of physical and digital retail to grow their business.” He adds that India is waiting for the emergence of a new-age brand that will be digital first and will own no manufacturing assets.
Indians are consuming big time and, as Orios Ventures Anup Jain said in recent interview with YourStory, there is an opportunity to go after the next 300 million consumers.