Women’s wellness startup Nua attracts marquee investors Lightbox Ventures, Vindi and Kamini Banga, Kae Capital, and Deepika Padukone
When Ravi Ramachandran started Nua in late 2016, he had noticed that while there were many grooming and cosmetic brands in the market, the women’s wellness segment was largely unaddressed.
An NIT Trichy graduate with an MBA from Oxford, Ravi had worked for ITC and the management consultancy firm, Booz and Company. He had seen how FMCG businesses had evolved and grown, and using his background work and research, he launched the Nua products in 2017, starting marketing efforts in 2018.
The Mumbai-based startup today raised a pre-Series B round of $7.1 million in funding led by Lightbox Ventures. The round also saw participation from Former President, Global Foods, Home and Personal Care at Unilever, Vindi Singh Banga, and Kamini Banga of the Banga family office; as well as Kae Capital. The round also saw participation from Deepika Padukone, who will work closely with Nua to ideate and create new wellness solutions.
“We have seen tremendous growth in the past 12 months, we aim to dive deep into that. We also want to invest in our online community, invest further in technology that will help and support our products, and expand deeper into women’s wellness and health as a category beyond just menstrual hygiene and care,” said Ravi in a conversation with HerStory.
He added that Nua has introduced products for menstrual cramps and period nutrition. They are also looking to explore and start conversations around other areas of women’s wellness.
The Nua Sanitary pads
Wellness during Covid
“Women play a significant role in our society and our economy, and yet there is little being done to focus on their wellness and health. At Nua, we aim to change that. The approach from the beginning has been to focus on building holistic solutions comprising safe products, tailored content, and a community that women can lean on for all things wellness,” said Ravi.
According to him, the company has seen a 6x growth from their pre-pandemic days in the last one year. While the pandemic did have an impact on Nua, from May 2020, the team saw an increase in consumer usage.
The team has also launched two social initiatives - Project Prerna 1 in 2020, and Project Prerna 2 in 2021. In Project Prerna 1, the team ensured that women in rural Maharashtra and Mumbai received free access to feminine hygiene products. “We worked with the Maharashtra government and Global Shapers, and were able to supply over three lakh sanitary pads from May to July,” said Ravi.
In Project Prerna 2, the team is providing hygiene kits comprising sanitary pads, masks, panty liners, sanitisers etc to over 15,000 women nurses, doctors, security services personnel and frontline workers in Maharashtra and parts of South India. This is in partnership with Rotary Club, PRIDE and Magic Bus.
Over the last year, the team focussed on Nua’s customisable sanitary pads. The startup has a community of over 4 lakh members, with over 2.5 lakh consumers. It follows an ‘auto-repeat plan’ like Netflix, where people can choose subscription packs. The average basket size is - three units for three months. A pack costs Rs 133 including the delivery charge. One can customise the packs, and each unit comes with a disposable pack as well.
Prashant Mehta, Partner at Lightbox said, “Since inception, Nua has displayed a deep understanding of women's evolving needs for wellness. They’ve pioneered the subscription model for menstrual products in India that lends itself perfectly to this category. This was possible due to the strong community they've built on trust, giving consumers a deeper connect with the brand. We are confident of the team’s approach and capabilities to change this category for the better.”
Market and differentiation
According to Globe Newswire, the Indian feminine hygiene products market was valued at Rs 32.6 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.87 percent to Rs 70.20 billion by 2025. There are companies like - Sirona Hygiene, Sanfe, The Woman Company, Plush, Carmesi, and HeyDay in the same space.
Speaking of how they differentiate themselves, Ravi said, being one of the first in the market, they had the luxury of time and energy to understand the market leads. He said, “Our story began with a pad. And not just any pad that could be picked off the shelves but one that was truly thought around a woman’s needs.”
From a product perspective, they have been focussed on factors like MadeSafe and customisation, where tech plays a strong role. This in fact has given them the ability to touch two lakh orders in the first few months, Ravi added.
“However, we soon realised that the need for safe and effective products went beyond just pads. So, we asked the women in our community to tell us what they were looking for,” said Ravi. According to him, Nua’s Sanitary Pads, Cramp Comfort, Foaming Intimate Wash and 1mm Everyday Liners, while manufactured by the team, are created by their community of over 4 lakh women.
“Women’s health, particularly in a country like India which has cultural taboos about menstrual
health, has been neglected for far too long. The potential impact of Nua could be revolutionary”,
said Vindi Banga.
Speaking of the future, Ravi said the team wants to invest in building a community where content will play a strong role, with a focus on monthly expert sessions with gynaecologists and mental health experts.