From McKinsey to Bombay Shaving Company: The journey of Shantanu Deshpande

In this episode of the 100X Entrepreneur podcast, Shantanu Deshpande, Founder of Bombay Shaving Company, talks about his entrepreneurial journey and starting up in the grooming sector.
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The journey of entrepreneurship is a difficult one; starting from scratch to building up one’s brand is not a cakewalk. Founders require help, support, advice, guidance, and funds from their families and peers. 

Shantanu Deshpande, Founder of Bombay Shaving Company, was lucky in this case. As he left behind his job at McKinsey to start up, 25 of his colleagues, bosses, and mentors invested in his idea in his initial journey.

Shantanu Deshpande, Founder, Bombay Shaving Company [Image Credit: 100X Entrepreneur Podcast]

“For five years, I was at McKinsey, and it was the most incredible professional first step one can make. I found incredible bosses and mentors, and 25 of them invested in Bombay Shaving Company when I left. For me, McKinsey helped in character building in so many ways, and I think a lot of who I am today, and I attribute to my time at the firm. But in 2016, I decided that it is time to leave and start up on my own,” Shantanu says as he describes his professional journey.

Shantanu explains that he took the entrepreneurial plunge to follow his dreams. 

In 2016, along with Deepu Panicker, Raunak Munot, and Rohit Jaiswal, Shantanu launched Bombay Shaving Company to disrupt the men’s grooming space. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic led lockdown last year, the grooming startup claimed to have recorded a 3X growth in its revenue, and one of the major factors behind the growth was its foray into the women grooming market.

The startup claims that while earlier about 27 percent of women customers purchased products for their male counterparts, now women form 50 percent of the clientele, ordering women care products.

Following dreams to become an entrepreneur

Bombay Shaving Company is a premium personal care brand for men and women, which offers products for bath and body, skin, and beard care. 

Earlier in March, the startup raised Rs 15 crore in funding from its existing investor Sixth Sense Ventures. Besides, in January, it had raised Rs 45 crore in a round led by British multinational consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser. 

He reveals that since 2015-16, it has been an incredible time for the startup ecosystem, and a lot of things have been happening in the space.

At the same time, he also noticed many people, who are respected tremendously at the firm, started to leave for the growing startup ecosystem. 

“Rahul and Sid, who were two to three senior to me at the firm, went on to found Treebo Hotels; Sai Krishna Murthy left for Flipkart; Anant left for Myntra. So, those senior people at the firm who are my mentors left, and it kind of made me feel that I will miss out if I don’t do this,” he says.

In this episode of the 100X Entrepreneur podcast, Shantanu shares his entrepreneurial journey and starting up Bombay Shaving Company.

To know more, listen to the podcast here.

Notes:

01:38 – Growing up in Florida, US, and moving back to India

06:50 – Leaving McKinsey and starting Bombay Shaving Company

09:18 – “The richest source of information is a conversation with people who are in it all the time.”

17:13 – Tailwinds which enabled 3X revenue post-lockdown in March 2020

19:50 – Channel-wise revenue break-up

21:47 – Raising initial seed round from McKinsey

23:30 – “My belief was always that we should never raise money to buy revenue; we should always raise money to build a brand.”

26:24 – Core target metrics since launch

30:02 – Three crucial things to winning customers early-on

33:07 – Enabling exits for early angel investors

39:57 – “Having good organic traffic is a proxy for brand strength.”

44:32 – Deriving best value from financial investors

Edited by Suman Singh