My business mantra is – Fail fast, fix fast: Manish Chowdhary, WOW Skin Science
While the global pandemic has brought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.
The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.
Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.
Before starting WOW Skin Science and entering the beauty and wellness market, Manish Chowdhary, Co-Founder, WOW Skin Science, was running his start-up in the information technology segment. Chowdhary loves the sense of freedom and achievement and also the challenge that being an entrepreneur brings you. It was in 2013, that the brand was born from the vision to develop and deliver affordable luxury products in the beauty and wellness space – products inspired from nature and infused with nature. The genesis of the company was from his experience with start-ups that failed to take off due to changing market conditions. Eventually, the other co-founder and Manish realised the potential that wellness and beauty had as an industry segment and put all their energies to create this brand. When they started, the idea was to be a wellness brand, but the duo saw a large opportunity in green chemistry and the emergence of the indigenous beauty brands in the country. Then there was an increasing demand for nature-based, organic beauty care products in the market, that’s when they organically transitioned into natural products.
In conversation with Adgully, Manish Chowdhary, Co-Founder, WOW Skin Science, speaks about how his start-up fulfills the need gap and what is his core business proposition. The product formulations that are nature-based backed by scientific research and traditional beauty recipes, and much more.
How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?
When we started our brand, we did a market research, followed consumer trends and used our gut instinct to identify the consumer group and develop products for them. Our research showed us that there was a latent demand for clean, green products that delivered visible results, and we used that information to put our brand together. We use data science and customer insights to identify our target group.
What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?
When we started working, many of our business strategies were based on gut-instinct and simple trend watching. However, that sometimes did not bring in the desired results. Some of the business decisions during the initial stages did not go in our favour. That’s when we decided to move to data analytics and became a data driven company. This transition has been particularly important for us since it reduced the chances of our failing in our business and marketing strategies. Over the years, we have leveraged technology in a number of ways to understand consumer trends and behaviour. In fact, we see that data analytics as vital to experimental bets for new product ideation and responding to customer needs. We have become a true technology-enabled organization that works around true insights and sheer numbers.
Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?
Cash is the key concern for start-ups, especially during the pandemic, when we have seen how venture capital and independent funding have dried up leaving the start-ups cash strapped. This has forced many brilliant businesses to fold and close shop. One of the things that can help new businesses and start-ups is zero-interest, unsecured loans. The other is partial government/ industry grants which can be boosted with loans. Another thing that the government can do is to reduce the corporate income tax burden on the start-ups by reducing tax percentage and offering tax holidays.
Prime Minister Modi announced a Startup India Seed Fund earlier this year. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?
The recent announcement by the PMO about the Startup India Seed Fund is really a shot in the arm for the start-up sector. The Rs 1,000-crore seed fund will help entrepreneurs flourish in the country. In fact, we saw many start-ups power India’s drive for becoming self-reliance during the pandemic, when bigger companies had to slow down. So, this fund will definitely benefit them and help entrepreneurs rev up the industry with new age business ideas and solutions.
How is digital helping you further your business?
We, as a company, have always followed a digital first strategy. In fact, we started as a digital brand, selling online before going into the offline retail space. So, it continues to remain the most important part of our marketing and business strategy.
What were your key learnings so far? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?
The most important learning is that when you are starting out, be lean with your operations, have a tight team and leverage technology in a big, big way. We did that. Only when we started getting the kind of market response that we wanted, did we expand our team. Lean team structure, transparent work style works the best when you are starting out. What with the boost from the government with the latest seed fund announcement, we expect the start-up ecosystem to do better than last year. The pandemic did create many entrepreneurs, and those people will get a fillip and grow better with relaxations and markets opening up.
What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?
My business mantra is – Fail fast, fix fast. I realised early on that it is important to learn from your failure and move to the next idea as soon as feasible without pondering on the actual failure. Also, it is important to dream big but work lean when you are starting out.