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These women entrepreneurs launched a one-stop marketplace for curated parenting, childcare products

Vaishnavi R is the Co-founder of The Nestery, a marketplace that helps parents discover safe and quality-verified maternity and children’s products. It was recently selected as part of the first cohort of Sequoia Spark Fellowship, a $100K equity-free grant and mentorship programme.

These women entrepreneurs launched a one-stop marketplace for curated parenting, childcare products

Wednesday December 15, 2021 , 5 min Read

When Vaishnavi R became a parent in in 2015, she found help in unexpected places. Strangers coming together on the internet helped each other make sense of this new life stage.

“I discovered I wasn't alone in this journey and, more importantly, I learnt how to be a parent with the help of other parents going on this journey alongside me. I was introduced to many new things like cloth diapering, new products, brands and more,” she recalls.

She used communities as a filter and proxy to discover products and brands in the context of how old her child was and how products were used. “This is because discovery is always a broken process. Unprecedented events were happening – categories like care and toys that had four-five large incumbents were seeing new players. I saw Superbottoms launch its first product, and witnessed Mamaearth become an overnight sensation,” she says.

This culminated in The Nestery, a marketplace that helps parents discover safe and quality-verified maternity and children’s products.

It was Vaishnavi’s first foray into entrepreneurship. After completing her MBA from SCMHRD, she spent the next decade asking “why?” - from the perspective of a consumer and an organisation.

“My long stint at Deloitte Consulting taught me the value of being analytical, team-building, process-building, and most importantly, the power of saying no,” she says.

Intense customer and market research

However, it took two years for Vaishnavi to take the leap of faith, leave her job, and start The Nestery.

“From the time the idea came to me to the point the product was launched, it was a period of intense customer and market research,” she says.

This meant talking to as many parents as possible. Vaishnavi started a side hustle of flipping children’s books where she would buy imported used children’s books by the kilo and break the bulk to sell individual items in flea markets and fairs.

“I chose children’s books, that too fiction, because I figured parents with an evolved taste would want access to books that were hard to find. This gave me a unique opportunity to speak to parents first-hand to understand how they shopped for their children and what is missing currently,” she says.

It was time to put the thought into action and Vaishnavi launched The Nestery in February 2019 with five brands and 25 products.

By September 2019, she and her team started working on what makes the platform unique. This includes:

Curation: Access controlled, safety, and quality verified marketplace with a unique selection. It has a 50 percent average non-overlap of brands with other competitors.

Empathetic cataloguing: A proprietary cataloguing tool that looks at why, when, and how a product is used in context of the parenting journey, not just what the product is.

Social recommendations: Creating mini storefronts in collaboration with influencers and parenting communities to bridge the gap between discovery and commerce.

Alongside, the team also worked on creating a robust portfolio of DTC brands and started building operational efficiencies in logistics and customer experience.

Initially based in Noida, they relocated to Bengaluru to be part of its thriving ecosystem.

the nestery

Vaishnavi, Vishwanathan, and Aparna: Co-founders of The Nestery

Bridge between brands and customers

As a marketplace, The Nestery acts as a bridge between brands and customers.

It currently has 450+ brands in its portfolio across all categories in the maternity and childcare spaces, and caters to women from the third trimester of pregnancy to children up to the age of 12. It operates in all categories in the maternity and childcare segments, ranging from toys, books, clothes, dinnerware, décor, care, diapering, sleep, food, and personalised products.

Its revenue comes from commission on the products sold from brands for sales done through the platform.

The Nestery has two other co-founders, T S Vishwanathan, Vaishnavi’s husband, and Aparna Vasudevan, whom she met on parenting Facebook groups.

“We work well as a team because we have a clear division of responsibilities, sure, but more importantly, because all three of us have the ability to give and take criticism in a constructive manner, while not stepping on each other’s toes,” Vaishnavi says.

The co-founders bootstrapped The Nestery for a year-and-a-half using personal funds before raising a pre-seed round of Rs 3.74 crore from friends, family, alumni networks, and early investors like FirstCheque & Tremis Capital. It claims to be currently at an annualised GMV run rate of approximately $2 million.

The Nestery is also part of the first cohort of Sequoia Spark Fellowship, a $100K equity-free grant and mentorship programme comprising 15 startups and 20 women entrepreneurs from India and Southeast Asia, announced recently. 

Firstcry is the only other online aggregator in the parenting and childcare segment and The Nestery’s competitor.

But Vaishnavi believes there’s a clear differentiator.

“Our strategy is to help parents find the right products for their child without the hassle of knowing what to look for. We do this by having the right products on the platform, by categorising them in a way that parents search or need on their parenting journey, and providing validation from other parents they look up to using our social recommendation channel,” she says.

Vaishnavi is clear she wants The Nestery to be “the destination of choice” for modern Indian parents.

“We want to help them learn, connect, and find exactly what they need on their parenting journey, all in one safe, warm space.”

Edited by Teja Lele