Meet the 12-year-old who's started her own business with a functional swim bag
Maithri Anand, now 12, began walking on the entrepreneurial path when she was just six years old.
She started a small library when visiting her grandmother in 2012. When her interest in books waned a bit and she found herself lacking something to do, she started writing a kid-friendly newspaper and sold it at her aunt’s Abacus classes. She also sold paintings for a while with a friend – all this while being busy with school and her passion for swimming.
A student of Navadisha Montessori School, Chennai, Maithri consistently faced problems while attending swimming classes.
“I was always running late and it used to happen mostly because of my swimming gear. I did not have a bag that would help me keep everything organised. But I couldn’t find anything in the market that was functional and handy,” she says of the pain point behind designing and developing Bag Buddy, a swim bag that’s a boon for swimmers.
Maithri turned to her Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) class for help and inspiration. And, the idea of Bag Buddy was crystallised.
Her bag has a unique design, which is the USP and differentiator. It has six small compartments to store accessories and one large one to put in clothes. The bag includes a waterproof bag for free; this can be used to place wet swimming costumes. It comes with an inner taping to make it 100 percent waterproof and sells for Rs 700.
Maithri says she has received several customer testimonials that this is the only bag with so many compartments that truly help the swimmer stay organised as one can store all accessories in one place.
For getting them manufactured at scale, Maithiri used Google Search to find factories that could make them in large numbers. She met several manufacturers and picked the one she found most reliable. The factory that makes her swimming bag specialises in manufacturing sports goods and bags.
Marketing and more
Maithri markets the bag through her website and Instagram account.
“The bag became a huge draw after we released a commercial made with the help of my cousin. I worked with him on the script, planned the friends who would feature in it, and who would do what. I also helped with the shooting, editing, and took feedback from friends before finally releasing it,” she says.
All this all done within a week and then showcased at the YEA! trade show where she got rave reviews for her innovation.
“What made all the hard work truly worthwhile was when the YEA! team informed me that I was one of the few students who had truly cracked a perfect Below-the-line advertising (BTL) commercial,” she adds.
The mentors at YEA! constantly re-enforced how important it was to ask for things and tap into networks for marketing.
To that end, Maithiri approached a sports shop owned by her dad’s friend and sold her first 20 bags through it. This gave her tremendous confidence to try out other marketing avenues such as her website and Instagram page. She has made Rs 50,000 since the launch of her venture one-and-half-years ago.
“My biggest learning was when I attended the YEA! Global Competition in the US. Meeting other young entrepreneurs and listening to their pitches was truly inspiring,” she says.
Maithiri is confident that she has a truly unique product, which has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from several swimmers.
For this young girl, this is just the beginning of an exciting entrepreneurial journey.