This woman entrepreneur started her natural skin and hair care brand with Rs 20K, clocks revenue of Rs 2.25 Cr
Natural and organic products in India have started to experience a boom as conscious consumers are taking to them in a big way. Consumers today are more careful to choose products that are natural, chemical free, locally sourced, and environmentally-friendly.
Amritha Gaddam began experiencing this new “organic wave” while studying for her MBA at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management in Bengaluru. Living in a hostel away from her home in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, Amritha was troubled with skincare and hair care problems, something she never faced at home.
Wanting to take better care of herself, she asked her mother to send her homemade self-care products. Her mother had always used Ayurvedic recipes of her father, an Ayurveda expert, for over 30 years had formulated, to create homemade alternatives for hair oil, face and hair cleansers.
Founder of Tribe Concepts, Amritha Gaddam
All of these products were loved by her hostel mates and she was seeing favourable results as well.
“Since so many people were liking it, it was always there in my mind that I should take it to a bigger level,” says Amritha.
Seeing the popularity and effectiveness of these homemade products, coupled with her childhood dreams of entrepreneurship, Amritha started organic hair care and skin care brand, Tribe Concepts in May 2019.
While she had thought of the idea while in college, she opted to join Atria Convergence Technologies through campus placements to gain experience. While working at the company, she researched using her father’s formulations and mother’s help.
She quit her job and along with her sister Apuroopa Gaddam, also a doctor and Nitya Mohan, she co-founded the Tribe Concepts, with a manufacturing unit in Rajahmundry and business operations headquartered in Bengaluru.
With an investment of Rs 20,000 she started operations in an old building owned by her father in Rajahmundry. Amritha started her product line with a 90-day miracle hair oil which got them a lot of attention and positive reviews online
With 10 products in the portfolio and 30,000 customers worldwide, the startup has managed to make Rs 2.25 crore in its first year of operations. In the first nine months, it made revenues worth Rs 1 crore and followed it up with Rs 1.25 crore in the next three months.
However, being an entrepreneur came with its own set of challenges.
From formulating the products to hiring the right people to convince prospective customers on quality, quantity and price point, and finding the right vendors for packaging and logistics, Amritha recalls that it was a trying time in the beginning.
However, the entrepreneur says that the core team comprising co-founders and two others, her mother Dr Kamalanjali and Vamshi Krishna learnt on the job to find solutions to every challenge that came their way.
Striving to be different
In the midst of the organic boom, Amritha was aware that differentiating from other products was key.
“Organic and natural are being used loosely, and everyone is coming up with DIY products at home. Our products are different as they are made using professional knowledge of my father's Ayurvedic practice. Even a 10-20 percent change in an ingredient matters a lot.”
Another differentiator is that all the products are either powder-based or oil based and are made up of only plant-based ingredients.
"When I was building the startup, I was very particular about getting the right ingredients from the right people,” says Amritha. Which is why about six major ingredients including shikakai, and soapnuts used in most of its products are procured from a tribal society in the Rampachodavaram forest near her hometown.
Apart from being preservative-free and chemical-free, Amritha shares that the products use ancient and forgotten Ayurvedic forest based ingredients like Bakuchi, Rasna, Manjishtha, making Tribe Concepts a truly “Made in India” brand.
Amritha's startup uses ancient and forgotten Ayruvedic ingredients to create skincare and haircare products
With sustainability as a core ethos and a zero-waste philosophy, the products are packaged in reusable steel tins and glass bottles.
The brands products are available on its own website and ecommerce platforms On a Healthy Note and Mytara.
Business amidst a pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the startup like most other industries and businesses. Amritha says that in the first two months of the lockdown, sales were down by 80-90 percent. She also experienced financial pressure as she had to pay salaries to her 20-employee team.
Another challenge the startup faced was lack of availability of raw materials, packaging and delay in deliveries, which has forced some of their products to go out of stock. The pandemic has also delayed the launch of about 10 new products
However, with the easing of the lockdown, she is happy that things are looking up. The orders are going back to pre-pandemic numbers and they have increased their digital marketing efforts with YouTube and Instagram influencers to make the products more visible.
She believes that post the pandemic, the startup will have to expand to new sales channels with a possible foray into the B2B market, gifting solutions and offline presence through kiosks in stores and malls. Amritha is hopeful that Tribe Concepts will grow at 100X growth over the next few months.