How these IIT and IIM alum are looking to transform the global beauty market

Pilgrim, a homegrown D2C beauty brand, has raised Series A funding of Rs 13 crore from Fireside Ventures and others. The funding will be used to redouble the R&D efforts, team expansion, and brand investments.
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Anurag Kedia and Gagandeep Makker started Pilgrim in 2019 to meet the unmet desire of well-travelled and aware millennials. The duo realised that while many Indians were aware of global beauty trends, they had limited access to the same brands and experience. 

“We at Pilgrim want to empower that consumer with our products,” says Anurag, in a conversation with YourStory. All of the D2C brand’s products are FDA Approved and free from toxins like Parabens, Sulfates, and Mineral Oils, which are otherwise commonly used in beauty products. 

Pilgrim has now raised Rs 13 crore in Series A from Fireside Ventures and others. The round was led by Fireside Ventures, Rukam Capital, and founding teams of Boat, NoBroker, and the founder- CEO of Bewakoof.com, with Dexter capital as the transaction advisor. 

"Our range of products is 100 percent vegan, free of harmful toxins, and not tested on animals. We currently offer 28 SKUs across hair, face and bath-body in the price range of Rs 300 to Rs 800. Our Vitamin C Serum, Red Vine Face Cream, and Red Vine Night Gel Crème are some of our best sellers,” says Anurag.

Anurag and Gagandeep

The funding and next steps 

Anurag says that the new round of funds will be used to redouble R&D efforts, team expansion, and brand investments. He claims the brand is currently witnessing an ARR of Rs 18 crores. 

“We deliver quality experiences with a strong focus on R&D and a controlled QC process. We have partnerships across the globe to support us with R&D and innovation. This, along with a strong background in the beauty industry, enables us to offer high-quality products to our consumers,” adds Anurag. 

Both Anurag and Gagandeep are IIT and IIM alumni, and have spent more than 15 years in the beauty industry.  

Building the products 

“Our focus on R&D and innovation enables us to create targeted solutions for different hair and skin concerns. Each product is designed keeping in mind the evolving consumer, creating an influx of global beauty regimens with localised user behaviour,” explains Anurag. 

The D2C brand has two best-selling ranges. This includes - ‘Secrets of Jeju Island, Korea’, inspired by the secrets of the pristine island of Jeju, also known as the island of Gods, and ‘Secrets of Vinotherapie’, inspired by the tradition of Vinotherapy in France, which uses red wine as a key ingredient. 

“We were always driven by the idea that Indian consumers deserve world-class options in the beauty care segment without burning a hole in their pocket. We have been able to identify a clear gap in what consumers expect and what is available,” adds Anurag. 

User base and COVID impact 

The brand has over 30,000 users every month, and expects to grow this 8x in the next 12 months. The biggest challenge the team has faced over the last year was supply chain disruption. 

“Many of our ingredients are sourced internationally. This created challenges in logistics and global procurement. Having said that, it also allowed us to unlearn, create new systems, work closely with our agile global network and bounce back. We are now equipped to cater to the growing demands, and account for disruptions,” says Anurag.

He adds that although the pandemic has had an impact on consumer behaviour, the personal care and beauty industry has been resilient, growing steadily. This is partly because of changing user behaviour. 

“We are witnessing an increased inclination towards personal wellbeing and care. Indian consumers want to experience and access global beauty regimes and ingredients from the comfort of their homes,” says Anurag. 

The growing D2C market 

An Avendus report says the country’s D2C business is going to be worth $100 billion in five years. India has as many as 600 D2C brands – a number that will significantly grow in the next five years — and more than 16 brands with an annual turnover of more than $60 million. Some of the startups are — Nykaa, Plum, Mamaearth, Sugar, Bellora, etc. 

The Indian D2C beauty market holds tremendous potential. The Pilgrim team aims to double down on enhancing their R&D capabilities. Additionally, they are looking at building larger teams across different functions and levels, and increase brand investments to bring alive global experiences for our users, both online and offline. 

“Most importantly we are excited to build a homegrown brand that brings at par global experiences in a localised manner,” says Anurag.

Edited by Anju Narayanan