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No groom for doubt! These startups are changing the men’s grooming game in India

Debolina Biswas
25th Sep 2018
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Despite the presence of big players like P&G and HUL, a slew of online startups is focusing on grabbing a share of the booming men’s grooming market.

Time was when men's grooming translated into Brylcreem and Gillette. But things have changed – and how. From activated charcoal face washes to beard care starter kits, from hair and mooch wax, to men-only creams and balms, the focus on men’s products has led to a proliferation of grooming startups in India.

In 2016, Unilever’s acquisition of US-based startup Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion showed it wasn’t only technology that could lead to a successful exit. Closer home, Indian consumer goods company Marico, in March last year, acquired 45 percent stake in men’s grooming startup Beardo for an undisclosed amount.

Nykaa, a popular name with women, also recently launched Nykaa Men, which offers a range of men's grooming products from different companies.

According to ASSOCHAM’s January 2018 report, the male grooming industry in India is currently worth Rs 16,800 crore and is expected to touch Rs 35,000 crore in the next three years.

A report by Nielson said:

"Data confirms that the sales of men’s face creams have more than doubled, while the use of face-cleansing products among men in India has jumped a massive 60 times between 2009 and 2016.”

Clearly, more and more men are shopping for grooming products. And new startups are giving top FMCG companies like Gillette, Park Avenue, Hindustan Unilever, L’Oreal, Nivea, and Marico a run for their money. YourStory lists the top men’s grooming startups that are focusing on making the boys look like gentlemen.

Bombay Shaving Company

Delhi-based Bombay Shaving Company was founded in October 2015 by Shantanu Deshpande, Raunak Munot, Deepu Panicker and Rohit Jaiswal. The online private label has 30 male grooming products under categories such as bath, shave, beard-care, skincare, and grooming gift sets. What started as a six-member team has now expanded to a team of 20 members.

The team claims to have over 80,000 customers and has expanded to 18 different channels. Bombay Shaving Company claims 95 percent of its sales take place online; they also plan to sell products offline, in salons and stores.

Team at The Bombay Shaving Company: Deepu Panicker, Rohit Jaiswal, Shantanu Deshpande and Raunak Munot (L to R)

The company, already present in the US market, plans to expand to other countries as well. It is targetting revenue of Rs 30 crore in the next fiscal.

Bombay Shaving Company raised an undisclosed Series A funding in August 2018, led by Colgate-Palmolive Asia Pacific Limited and Fireside Ventures. It had raised $2.5 million in August 2017 in pre-Series A funding from Fireside Ventures and high net-worth individuals that included McKinsey & Company executives.

The Man Company

Gurugram-based The Man Company was founded in 2015 by Bhisham Bhateja, Hitesh Dhingra, Rohit Chawla and Parvesh Bareja. Its products include shaving gels, hair gels, face washes, shampoos, body washes, and fragrances. The Man Company website says all products contain 100 percent natural oils and are free of SLS and Paraben.

The startup sells its products through their website and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Nykaa. It has also tied up with salons across the country - Bodycraft, Enrich Salons, Looks - the Barber Shop, Head Turners, and others.

L to R: Rohit, Bhisham, Parvesh and Hitesh

Media sources recently said Kolkata-based FMCG company Emami acquired 20 percent stake in The Man Company.

LetsShave

Founded in 2015 by Sidharth Oberoi, LetsShave sells razors, spare blades, shaving brushes, shaving foam, body scrubs, and travel bags. Chandigarh-based LetsShave has partnered with California-based razor manufacturer Dorco to deliver high-quality razors to its customers. Its website claims to have introduced the world's first six-blade razor.

YourStory-LetsShave
Sidharth Oberoi

LetsShave's products are sourced directly from the manufacturer; the distribution channel does not involve any middlemen, and so products start from as low as Rs 39 (for blade refills) and go up to Rs 2,249 (for the Pace 6 Pro Premium Gift Set). LetsShave has also has its own warehouse to work internally on logistics and keep prices economical.

Ustraa (Happily Unmarried)

Rahul Anand and Rajat Tuli's Delhi-based startup, Happily Unmarried, which was set up in 2003 after taking care of “his home, his bar, his supply of tees and gifts”, is now helping “brothers look and smell better”.

Ustraa is Happily Unmarried's range of grooming products for men. The name Ustraa is adopted from the age-old men's grooming product by the same name. Ustraa's line includes beard-care products, fragrance packs, hair products, shaving products, and face and body products. According to media reports, Ustraa gets 40,000 to 50,000 orders per month and their products range from Rs 199 to Rs 1,499. It also offers subscription plans that can be customised according to individual needs; these range from Rs 2,397 to Rs 4,290. Ustraa products are available on Happily Unmarried's online and offline stores, as well as in ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Nykaa.

Wipro Enterprises' personal care arm, Wipro Consumer Care, agreed to invest an undisclosed amount in Happily Unmarried last November.

Singh Styled

Charanjeev Singh founded Singh Styled in 2015 exclusively for the Sikh man, who is known for his long hair. Headquartered in Mumbai, Singh Styled products are available on ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, Paytm, and Snapdeal, along with its website. The startup claims to ship its products to 133 foreign destinations, including Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia.

Singh Styled also provides subscriptions ranging from Rs 1,448 (for the basic box) to Rs 2,490 (lifestyle box). Customers receive curated boxes every month with products like beard oils, hair brushes and accessories (turbans).

According to media sources, Singh Style, which was bootstrapped with Rs 13 lakh, has catered to 30,000 customers till now and has a 71 percent repeat ratio. Interestingly, almost 60 percent of the startup's customers are non-Sikhs. The company claims to ship around 900 products every month.

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