As a footballer in Mumbai, Aalya Vora faced a huge problem during the monsoons every year. As most of the practice sessions took place during the rain, her shoes never dried before practice the next day. This, coupled with the humidity the city experiences throughout the year, meant that most of the footwear would smell unless washed and dried constantly.
This simple need for fresh-smelling footwear led Aalya, a 16-year-old student at Hill Spring International School, Mumbai, to create a product called Sili-Dry this year. These are small sacks filled with a drying agent.
Preventing foul odour
“Sili-Dry combats the never-ending Mumbai humidity and rain issues by absorbing moisture and thus drying the shoes and preventing foul odours, dampness, and any kind of fungus formation,” explains Aalya.
“The sack is intuitive to use as the colour of the logo printed on it changes once it’s saturated, and what’s more, it’s also reusable,” she adds.
This sack is useful not just for shoes but can even prevent rusting in razors and other such products, prevent musty smells in blankets, and can prevent the spoilage of any electronics or goods in general, which are susceptible to moisture.
To overcome the seasonal nature of demand for Sili-Dry, Aalya introduced another product called Odor-Go. It is a sack filled with an absorbent to remove unpleasant smells and once it is used, it leaves the area (refrigerators, dustbin cabinets, bathrooms, etc.) odour free and pleasant. Odor-Go can be used for up to two months at a time and is also reusable.
Affordable and reusable
So far, Aalya has sold over 1,000 pieces of Sili-Dry and 300 pieces of Odor-Go, and in the process has catered to more than 500 clients. This, she says, is a testament to not only the huge demand for a product like this but also the quality of her product.
She sourced the raw material and outsourced manufacturing of the sacks through her mother who runs a garment business and had worked with these vendors before.
Aalya has priced Sili-Dry at Rs 100 and Odor- Go at Rs 80. She has built in margins in the product that leaves her with enough profit to be redeployed for marketing and further product development.
Learning to be a young entrepreneur
“I am thankful to the YEA! programme that is designed to make each student create their own innovative products, come up with business plans, design prototypes, and eventually pitch one’s business idea to a panel of investors. The programme definitely helped me become an entrepreneur and apply my skills in the real world,” she says.
The YEA trade show was her biggest learning experience as she designed her brochures, website, business cards, etc., and received first-hand experience of selling to customers to set the ball rolling.
She got her first order from the catalogue at the show and her participation also helped generate word-of-mouth publicity. Since then, she has been getting regular orders, via social media and many repeat orders from her existing clients.
“My plan for the future is to expand my sales platform and use ecommerce to reach out to a larger audience. I plan to do it during my school break,” she says.
Given the strong positive feedback on her products along with sales and repeat orders so far, Aalya is confident that she has a strong and well-priced product with a growing market.