Beco’s growth journey: Celeb investors, sustainability, and more
What do actors Dia Mirza, Bhumi Pednekar, Ranbir Kapoor and Aamir Khan, and cricketer Rohit Sharma have in common? No, they are not starring together in a new movie. The five are investors in a startup named Beco.
A Mumbai-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand,manufactures eco-friendly and cost-efficient products that have the same flexibility as single-use plastic items.
Founded in 2019 by Aditya Ruia, Akshay Varma, and Anuj Ruia, the company recently raised $3 million in a Series A round from a handful of investors, including Rukum Capital, Priyavrata Mafatlal, Better Capital, Prashant Pittie, and Titan Capital, among others.
It plans to use the funds for R&D (product innovation, development in sustainability), marketing, supply chain functions, and talent acquisition across verticals to boost growth.
At the time of funding, Archana Jahagirdar, Managing Partner of Rukum Capital, said, “The growth it [Beco] witnessed in the last year is promising, reflective of strong affinity and love for the brand. Beco is driven with a clear sense of purpose, and have effectively demonstrated that a toxic-free and eco-conscious way of life is not just trendy, but more efficient.”
The star power
According to Co-founder Aditya Ruia, Dia Mirza was one of Beco’s first customers. Fun fact: The startup was also one of the vendors at the actor’s much-talked-about sustainable wedding.
The wedding wasn’t really a marketing opportunity, he adds, as it was natural for Beco to work with Dia, someone who believed in the sustainability cause. It was a bonus that her credibility helped enhance the brand’s equity.
Speaking at YourStory’s Brand Residency Summit in Delhi in September, the actor said, “When we look at everything that we use, there is some form of plastic or element that isn’t environmentally friendly. When I personally started making lifestyle changes, I started hunting for products that were sustainable. Most of the brands that I invest in are products I use, I am a customer first. It was the same with Beco.”
Two other celeb investors—Rohit and Bhumi—are also climate activists.
“After seeing one of his [Rohit Sharma] Instagram posts with cricket shoes made from recycled plastic, I got his manager’s contact and spoke to them the same day. In the next three to four days, we were on call with Rohit's spouse and financial advisor. They were aligned with our goal and mission,” Aditya tells YourStory.
In fact, the same advisor also managed funds for Ranbir and Aamir and got them on board as well.
The actors also became the brand’s ambassadors to help it reach more Indian households to spread awareness around and increase the adoption of sustainable and chemical-free solutions.
When news of Beco’s fundraising reached Bhumi’s financial advisor, he, in turn, reached out to Aditya. Talking about the conversation they had, Aditya says, “We spoke, and within a week, that too got done. More importantly, I had contacted her manager during our last round via Google, so it all came around.”
The goal: Sustainability
It all started with a beach clean-up drive in Mumbai in 2019. While Aditya, Akshay, and Anuj were regular participants in the clean-up drive, this time, they found something different—a unique wrapper made for a chocolate brand discontinued in the 90s.
“The realisation that every plastic article we use will truly come back to us led to the seed thought to create natural waste-free products. The homecare segment hadn't seen innovation in two decades, and most of the daily essentials we use, impact the environment the most. That's how Beco was born—to create sustainable homecare products that don't harm your home and nature,” explains Aditya.
The trio, who have been friends since their undergraduate days at BITS Pilani, decided to launch a venture to make completely plastic-free products, including garbage bags, tissue papers, cotton buds, reusable towels, etc.
In the last three years, Beco has saved over 500 tonnes of plastic waste by adopting a sustainable production and packaging model.
“We carried out product research to check the compost-ability and recyclability of each product, the solution ingredients for chemical-free cleaners, and testing organic packaging. We regularly do market visits for consumer understanding of the products,” he says.
Aditya adds, “For manufacturing, we use less water in production processes. We reuse the residue left from one product to make another, thus minimising waste.”
The business has an omnichannel approach and sees an average basket size of Rs 850. Beco’s products are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 1,000. According to the company’s RoC data, it recorded a loss of Rs 4.09 lakh in FY 2020. In FY 2021, it made a profit of Rs 5.20 lakh. The company is yet to file its financial results for FY 2022
It sells via its own D2C channel and is also available on multiple ecommerce platforms, including Amazon, Flipkart, and Bigbasket.
But there’s a long way to go, says Aditya, adding that "the consumer habit and dearth of knowledge in this space are the most challenging factors that we've faced.”
“We've tried to focus more on educating the consumers about the plastic and chemicalised products in the market, and how Beco is solving by replacing them with plant-based alternatives,” he adds.
Market and future
According to a Coherent Marketing Insights report, the global biodegradable packaging market, valued at $3.92 billion last year, will touch $21 billion by 2025.
Today, several companies such as Bambrew, Truegreen, Earthware Products, Ecoware, and Earthsoul, among others, are also helping consumers with the growing need for biodegradable packaging and products.
At present, Beco aims to invest in new product development to continue building a chemical-free cleaner category, expand into more homecare segments, and increase its distribution to 10,000 stores pan-India from its current 5,000 stores.
Edited by Suman Singh