Inspired by Kerala's Ayurvedic legacy, this FMCG brand has health and wellness at its core
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many to pursue healthy living. Many consumers are now open to exploring Ayurveda and herbal products, with an EY study noting that 40 percent of Indians were willing to pay a premium for health and wellness products.
With this growing shift towards healthy living, Ernakulam-basedfound itself in the spotlight. Established in 2014 as Haeal Pharma, it was already present in over five states (Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana), with a team of over 60 working on verticals like respiratory, cardiovascular, and paediatric divisions.
The pandemic made founder Rahul Mamman Abraham realise that there was a huge gap for wellness products.
“COVID-19 was an eye opener as there was a disruption of transportation and states had closed borders. There was a huge shortage of many items, including COVID-19 essentials. We hit the ground running with sanitisers and hand washes,” Rahul tells YourStory.
In 2020, he launched Haeal Enterprises Pvt Ltd. The Kerala-based startup launched several products including hand wash, sanitiser, bathing soaps, shower gel, health supplements etc in December 2020. It used its network to make its products available across the state.
“The brand obtained visibility in a short period and we had a very good response from the market. This paved the way for the launch of an entire range of wellness products under the banner of Haeal,” he adds.
Haeal says it formulates its products using natural ingredients, inspired by Kerala's Ayurvedic legacy
Health and wellness
Before starting up, Rahul completed his graduation in BCom from Sacred Heart College in 2005, and then went on to pursue MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 2007. He started working with pharma supply chain companies, and also started retail, wholesale, trading, and warehouse businesses. He worked with startups in the marketing space with pharma products, and has also started a D2C business.
“My motto is ‘fail fast, learn, and grow,’” he quips.
Using the wealth of experience, Rahul launched Haeal, which offers a wide range of daily use and wellness products formulated using natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, turmeric, charcoal, vitamin C, and aloe vera, keeping Kerala’s rich Ayurveda heritage in mind. The startup has a range of 40+ bathing soaps and body lotions. Haeal Ayurveda has 25+ unique SKUs under the categories of body oils and body lotions. The company offers over 200 unique products under its wellness range, including soaps, shampoos, hand wash and beauty enhancement products.
“When the wellness products were introduced, we already had a vast pharma supply chain network in place across south India, which made it easier for us to reach every nook and corner of the retail sector,” Rahul says.
He also adds that the company saw a tremendous response for its body lotion and bathing soaps range.
“By the end of 2021, Haeal had 80+ unique products entered into major accounts like Lulu, Reliance, and digital markets including Amazon and Flipkart.”
Rahul decided to operate from Ernakulam, Kerala, with its manufacturing plant and physical stores present in Kerala only.
“However, we do cater to our expanding market in India and across the borders. The products are manufactured in Kerala and then further shipped ahead directly to consumers,” says Rahul.
The presence and team
Haeal caters to consumers across India through its ecommerce platform, which records a footfall of over half-a-million users monthly. In the offline space, the startup sells through Lulu hypermarkets in Kochi, Bengaluru, Trivandrum, and Uttar Pradesh, and may soon make its footprint in Lulu GCC.
“We are focused on establishing our network in the offline retail sector, which contributes a major share of the revenue. We have penetrated deep into the retail supply chain in south India,” Rahul says.
The startup says that over the last 28 months, it has generated Rs 100 crore in revenue since its inception, with hand sanitisers being its most popular product. It currently has a team of over 100 employees.
The way ahead
The size of the consumer FMCG market in India is around Rs 4 lakh crore, and FICCI estimates the value of the Kerala market to be Rs 20,000-25,000 crore.
Haeal shares the shelves with Himalaya, Dabur, and several such brands.
Rahul says that with the introduction of home and cleaning products, and adding brands like Squad and Lora soaps, Haeal has seen multifold growth in terms of revenue and user base.
”We are a young company and have already made our footprints in the industry. The growth has been exciting and motivating in the last two years of inception,” says Rahul.
The company has planned a massive offline expansion, with a focus on Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Presently, it is building teams across south India for its sales force.
Bootstrapped with an investment of Rs 4 crore, Haeal has sold over 20 million units so far. The startup is likely to raise a funding round of Rs 10-12 crore from friends and family in the near future. It is present in over 25,000 stores in Kerala, and is targeting to reach 50,000 stores in 12 months in the same region.
“We expect about 10 million users have used our product at some point of time or the other, since we were selling hand washes and sanitisers which we also installed in many public places as well,” he adds.
HAEAL aims to reach Rs 100 crore revenue annually by next fiscal year.
(The story was updated with a new image.)