[Startup Bharat] How this Jaipur-based skincare brand aims to lead the market by focusing on ‘transparency in beauty’

Started with a range of face serums, Minimalist claims to be clocking 100 percent month-on-month growth, and is targeting a Rs 150 crore revenue run rate.
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Direct-to-consumer (D2C) beauty and skincare brands in India are not just gaining popularity amongst a rising customer base, but with investors as well. Organic or otherwise, brands have tapped into digitisation, influencer marketing strategies and even the pandemic to bolster sales 

But as this particular category starts to get crowded, Jaipur-based skincare startup Minimalist is trying to carve its own niche by innovating in the serum category, and making its ingredients transparent to the consumers. 

“Since the last few years, you see many brands coming up in categories that are trending. Some time ago, it was charcoal, which was a very popular ingredient. Then it was onion and other plant-based ingredients. But instead of bringing trending products, shouldn’t it be the other way round? Shouldn’t we understand what the consumer wants and then develop products?” asks Mohit Yadav, co-founder of Minimalist, in a conversation with YourStory.

Mohit, who is a chartered accountant, is also a serial entrepreneur

How it began

With this in mind, Mohit, with co-founder Rahul Yadav, decided to deep dive and find out what customers were actually looking for.

“We had a lot of data from our previous firm, where we were trying to create personalised hair care products,” says Mohit.

Since leaving his role as Vice President at Car Dekho in 2017, Mohit has been a serial entrepreneur. He started Free Will, a startup that creates customised hair care products, in 2018. The startup, which still exists, could not see much expansion due to legal issues. But the data collected helped Mohit and Rahul launch Minimalist, touted to be a “transparent beauty” brand, run by Uprising Science Pvt. Ltd. Minimalist calls itself transparent in terms of the ingredients used in their products. 

Founded in October 2020, the startup first launched a range of serums targeting particular skin concerns. It currently has 17 facial serums and one product in the hair fall category.

“We are going category by category. The aim is to close the skincare category by the end of this year,” says Mohit. 

The online-first brand differentiates itself by listing every ingredient used and its percentage in every bottle. This also became a challenge for the firm as there is lack of awareness about good chemicals and bad chemicals.

“When you hear the word chemicals, you think of a few doctors in a lab experimenting with beakers and test tubes. And natural means plants and outdoors. But not all chemicals are bad for us. And creating that awareness has been the biggest challenge for us,” says Mohit. 

According to the company, 100 percent “natural” products need not necessarily mean safe and effective skincare products. 

A few skincare serums by Minimalist

Creating brand awareness

“Everything is a chemical - water is a chemical - therefore, chemical-free products do not exist,” says an introduction on the company’s website. 

What has helped build awareness on their products is social media - the firm has an active community on various platforms, where it has found it easy to spread their brand identity. 

To keep a check on quality, Minimalist has an in-house research and development team comprising 10-12 employees, and a manufacturing unit in Jaipur. The firm currently has close to 100 employees. 

The firm is also set to increase its manufacturing capacity in the city to support the 10,000 orders per day mark.  

Although only about a year old, the brand started seeing a surge in demand in January 2021. “Initially, the adoption was slow as people were still testing our product. But once the word started spreading after 30-60 days of launch, we saw a major rise in our sales,” says Mohit. 

Currently, the firm claims to be growing 100 percent month-on-month. Minimalist is also backed by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge fund and Unilever Ventures, who invested Rs 110 crore in a Series A round. 

With Minimalist selling on multiple marketplaces including Amazon, Nykaa and Flipkart, the brand is seeing demand from all parts of the country.

“It is heartening to see more orders coming from beyond Tier II and Tier III cities,” says Mohit. 

And with this demand in mind, the founders expect the startup’s revenue run rate to touch Rs 150 crore by the end of this financial year. 

Credit: YourStory Design

Direct-to-consumer brands have seen a major growth during the pandemic as at-home consumers got more used to placing orders online from the comfort of their homes. 

However, even though Minimalist is having a good year, it is operating in an extremely crowded market with competitors including Mumbai-based MCaffeine, Crys Capital-backed WOW Skin Science, Sequoia Capital India-backed Mamaearth’s The Derma Co., and Plum. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan