Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

Ghazal Alagh began looking for toxin-free, safe baby products when she was expecting her first child. The results were not very reassuring, she recalls. The parents-to-be could not find chemical-free products that they felt would be good for a newborn.

“We could hardly get any option for our satisfaction and had to order products from the US, which was not only expensive but also an extremely inconvenient arrangement. We then realized it was not just us but a lot of other parents around who were struggling with the same concerns,” Alagh explains. Thus, came the idea for creating MamaEarth – a company that in Alagh’s own words, is “the only ‘Made Safe’ certified toxin-free brand in India”. As she puts it, what is sold, is what she uses for her own child.

Being a new parent can be a daunting task, and an increasing number of companies have stepped forward to help you through this time. What we’re calling the mom-and-baby market in this article, is still at a nascent stage, but in the last decade, there has been several companies which have come up in India to cater to this demographic. With Sunday being Mother’s Day, we thought that it’d be a perfect time to take a look at some of these organisations.

As Alagh, the Chief Mama and co-founder of her company puts it, “…we founded Mamaearth to make early parenting stress-free.”

Interestingly, another Indian company too appears to have been similarly motivated. Gurgaon based The Moms Co began, if one takes a look at the company’s Facebook page, with a desire to “help moms make safe, natural, effective choices for themselves and their families” and now provides both pre and post-natal products, as well as natural baby care products.

According to an earlier YourStory report the company was founded when the husband wife duo of Malika and Mohit Sadani moved from London to Gurgaon. Unable to find safe products for their daughter, they were forced to rely on the travel plans of friends and family. One incident involving a friend travelling from the US who was held up by snow, and couldn’t get the products they had ordered was the catalyst. The duo then put their heads together to figure out an alternative.

“We live by our #NatureInToxinsOut philosophy, using only the most effective natural ingredients for our products. We have zero tolerance for any potentially harmful chemicals and go to great lengths to create products that are safe. All our products are Clinically Tested, Australian Certified Toxin-Free, Made Safe and Australia Allergen Certified so you know you are always getting the safest, natural best for yourself and your baby,” The Moms Co adds on Facebook.

Players such as Johnson and Johnson and Himalaya BabyCare have been a part of this market for some time now. But these start-ups are catching up, especially when it comes to popularity. The new-age parent’s focus on safer products have helped even popular brands reformulate their products completely, opines Alagh.

“While there has been a rise in negativity against industry giants amidst the growing awareness, MamaEarth has witnessed the growth of 3X every year since inception or 10X growth in the last three years,” she says. The company has also gone from six products to over 80 in the past three years.

“We have reached out to more than 300,000 customers, and sold one million+ products. With a presence in more than 300 cities and a team of around 150 employees, we are growing at the rate of 3x year on year, and our revenue has crossed the 100-crore mark. We recently became the first FMCG company in India to reach a Rs 100 crore run rate at the fastest pace,” she adds with pride.

Another company, the decade old online baby care marketplace FirstCry recently became a unicorn after SoftBank invested around $ 300 million in the Supam Maheshwari founded company. An entrackr.com report puts the company’s current valuation at around $ 1.2 billion. For the uninitiated, a unicorn is a private start-up valued at over $ 1 billion. FirstCry now joins an elite club, alongside Indian companies such as Oyo Rooms, BYJU’S, Ola Cabs and Swiggy.

Reportedly, the Masayoshi Son led SoftBank has accepted a private placement letter dated 12.1.19 for a $400 million investment. Entrackr adds that while the company received $ 300 million in early February this year, the remaining $100 million would be released in January next year.

How has the coronavirus outbreak changed things?

With large swathes of India still under lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak, it has not been business as usual for most companies. Many shops continue to remain shut, as do public spaces and restaurants, malls etc. E-commerce activities too have been curtailed to essential products only.

Interestingly, at least for MamaEarth, nothing much has changed.

According to Ghazal Alagh, “There have been no salary cuts, performance bonuses are being paid out as per usual, and offer letters have continued to go out. On the contrary, we have continued our hiring spree and have recently hired three key members for our senior leadership team.”

And while the outbreak and consequent lockdown had disrupted the logistics and supply chain, Alagh isn’t too concerned. “Currently, our website sales are back to pre-COVID times, and we are extremely positive that we will recover and bounce back soon with the commencement of e-commerce. As far as the future goes, we know that the fundamentals of our business are very sound, and once the immediate severity of the situation subsides, the demand for our product will return to normal,” she says.

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