Challenges in scaling a women’s health startup: Toilet – A Love story – but of a different kind. In the movie Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, Akshay Kumar builds a toilet for his wife who refuses to live with him because his home lacks a toilet. Deep Bajaj went a step further and helped not just his wife but millions of women.
Deep realized on a road trip with his wife the complications women face with personal hygiene and toilet cleanliness or the lack of toilets. Deep’s start-up Peebuddy and Sirona- hygiene products for women is a result of several bad experiences women around him faced including his mother, wife & female friends. What’s even more interesting is that he gave up his successful events business and helped his wife with stabilizing the business of making Handmade Carpets before he took the plunge.
Listen to Deep Bajaj explain his product development challenges and the thousand days scaling strategies for an innovative product designed to help women avoid dirty toilet seats. You haven’t heard all about the challenges in scaling a women’s health startup until you’ve heard this
Here are some excerpts from the Episode
Initial scaling challenges
If you look at the kind of products that we have, they’re all habit changing products.
When you speak to 10 women in your life and ask them if they face dirty toilet situation when they’re traveling by railroad, Metro or long haul flights and answer will be? Oh, yes, there are no friendly toilets for women.
You ask them during pregnancy and arthritis, is it difficult for you to stand in to find a toilet which is where you know, you can sit and standing easily and the answer will be no, there are hardly any toilets available like that.Deep 4:18
There are women who have PCOS, PCODs, who were tired of just scouting for pads at the last hour, our cups helped them.
Then we also heard from some waste management agencies saying the way to go forward for India if possible should be the cups than the pads.Deep 6:28
Challenges in testing initial product and selling
Initially, it was all the more difficult because not only was the concept new, it was coming from a team of men trying to solve it. There were other questions – How do you sell ? where do you sell? I took it to certain stores who just thought it’s a gag product but they shooed us away.
Obviously, there were a lot of jokes. I remember once of this leading publication did a story on us it was BBC, actually. So on the English version, I got a lot of praises.
Because it reached out to all the millennials, and I would say, the urban India. The Hindi version of had the best of gaalis (expletives).
They said, you know, what kind of privileges you’re giving to our women? This is against our tradition, this is against our values, and what not.
So, it came to a point where, you know, first of all media was not writing. The media that wrote the Hindi one backfired, I won’t say backfired, but it was not in good taste, right. I was just trying to solve a problem.
Then there were stores which were not willing to keep it. The team was finding it difficult to get by sales which were very, very lowDeep 14:52
Distribution challenges in scaling up
Now I when I talk to some smart people who want to start-up; I tell them that you know, in my case the theory that has worked is I have these three rules that I follow…Deep 21:23
Anybody who has toxic bosses. Or if you’re trying to start something up. Or if you have a lot of people giving you advice, read more about this concept of energy vampires….Deep 33:17
So, we initially thought this will start selling from stores. So made offline distributors and, and that backfired? Online, there was no category, so there was no category for female urination devices. So Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa didn’t know where to put them..we had to make them create a category for our productDeep 50:40
Deep Bajaj on Linkedin Deep Bajaj – Founder – Sirona Hygiene
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Deep’s Blog on Medium https://medium.com/@deepbajaj
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