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One of the most promising sectors of growth, male grooming, has been long neglected and left to a few international brands waiting to be tapped to their full potential. There are hardly more than a handful international brands that have established their dominance in India, and because of such a closed market, prices for these products is phenomenally high. If men in India want the comfort and personal touch of shaving themselves, they must be prepared to shell out phenomenal amounts for the sme. Seeing this problem in India, LetsShave has launched it’s own line of shaving products, for men and women including India’s first 6 blade razor.
We had a chat with Sidharth Shankar Oberoi over his entrepreneurial journey so far. Here are some excerpts:
What was your first job, and how well did it pay?
My first job was in USA where I worked as a Project Engineer in CSA Group. I had various job responsibilities including conducting consumer product evaluations based on tests to help retailers and manufacturers to quantify and analyze the performance of the products. These tests ultimately drove decisions that ensured customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business success. Developing ways to increase productivity and efficiency of technicians and also reducing the testing processes lead-time. I have worked in Diverse Departments of the company like OnSpex, Electrical, and Mechanical & EEV. I was paid pretty well, a five figured salary in dollars.
How was the idea of your startup conceptualized?
So 4 years ago, when I came to India during my summer break, I went grocery shopping with my mom. It was fun. For every commodity there were 100’s of options. But when we stopped by the drug store for buying razor blades, there weren’t many. Then slowly the wheels began to churn. I thought definitely there must be other options in the market and I began my research. It was during my stay in California that I happened to use Dorco razors. I immediately fell in love with the quality and to my surprise, I was getting better shave at a much lower price! This was when the idea of bringing Dorco Razors as an alternative to India cropped up in my mind and I started working on it. After years of hard work on strategizing the right business model, suitable products and its prices for every segment in Indian market, we partnered with pioneers of razor industry, Dorco. Dorco has 60 years of experience in making one of world’s high quality razor blades. Dorco is also an official supplier of razors to LetsShave.com in India and Dollar Shave Club in USA.
For more than a century, the shaving market in India had been essentially stagnant in terms of options while online market was growing tremendously. During the recent years, online marketplace companies were at rise but there was no dedicated platform and service in the men’s grooming sector and this is how LetsShave.com was born. LetsShave.com is India’s first online shaving and grooming products platform for both men and women.
There was a huge market gap for a company to deliver high quality products at a fair price.
Is there a story behind the name of your startup?
Not really. It just describes the motive of company very clearly and it’s easier to remember by everyone. Interestingly, the name also reminded me of routine habits of Men in India. Men shave when their wives tell them in the morning or at night ‘Shave Kar Lo, Party mein jana hair’ or ‘Shave Kar Lo, office ke liye late ho jaoge’. We have heard this once in every home in india!
What is your business model?
When we entered Indian market it was clear that we have to offer high-quality products at a fair price.
Our business model is fairly simple: Direct-to-consumers. Dorco is our exculsive partner for India and all our products are co-branded as Dorco LetsShave under the razor & blades category. LetsShave.com added tiles and expanded its product line over time. We offer a greater number of product variations so that it addresses all segments of the market from the 2-bladed system Pace 2 to World’s first 6 blade razor with trimmer, Pace 6 plus and Pace XL Pro for men while Soft Touch 6- Women Body Razor for women and also 3- blade to 6-blade disposable razors.
We have also launched our own brand of grooming products “Dr. Barber’s” (by LetsShave.com) with shaving foam and coming up with an innovative ‘After Shave Wipes’, shaving brush, razor stand and more. I am the sole founder of the company and we have more than 1,00,000 customers and growing.
LetsShave.com offers a number of products ranging from different types of razors from basic 2-blade to most premium World’s first 6-Blade razor.Each day, thousands of men and women in India trust their faces and skin to ourinnovative razors designed for their unique needs – helping them to look good, feel good and stay sharp every day.The razor range in India includes Pace 2, Pace 3, Pace 4, Pace 6 Plus, Pace XLPro, Soft Touch 4 and Soft Touch 6 in systems category. The disposables rangeincludes Pace 3 Disposable and Pace 6 Disposable.
- The products are only available for online purchase.
- LetsShave.com has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all products.
- As for customer service, representatives are available online and byphone, live chat and emails during the business hours.
The packaging is another aspect that LetsShave.com uses to deliver an excellent shaving experience. All razors and blades are packed in a beautifully designed box. In India, usually the cartridges come over-packaged in plastic blister packs and I was always appreciative of the American Shave Club packaging and wanted to bring something similar in Indian market as an initiative of green company.
Have you raised any funding so far?
LetsShave.com is a bootstratpped company and I am very happy with the growth of the company and appreciative of the trust and love our consumers have shown towards us.
What is your office culture like?
Well, when it comes to onboarding new employees with whom I’ll work directly, I bear in mind Mark Zuckerberg’s single guiding principle.“I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person”. We have a team of quality people who are also passionate and believe in the company’s vision. All the activities are strategized, planned, initiated and executed in-house.We are a team of over 64 members working in the Head office and the warehouse of LetsShave.com.
We have an open floor plan, that makes our office culture more open and connected. It facilitates the “culture of transparency”. I make sure all the employees are learning from each other. Keeping my team member’s morale high is always my top priority. I think, one-off pizza party is not the key to good morale—but I regularly communicate with my team, actively respond to feedback, and appreciate jobs done and accomplishments of each employees.
Who has been your mentor in your entrepreneurial journey?
My Father Mr. Ashwani Obeori- The Chairman and Mr. Ash Sahi- The COO of the company have always motivated me to bring respect and value to our Brand Dorco | LetsShave.com and guided me to build a sustainable Business. It is from them, I’ve learned to be disciplined and to think about all the possibilities of obstacles that might come my way and how to avoid them.
I am still learning business and managerial skills from my father who has been in the marketing business since 35 years. Learning is a never-ending process and I always look forward to growing my business in an innovative way.
What has been your biggest challenge since its conception?
Every entrepreneur faces different challenges. For me, being in an online business I have had got stuck at hiring top marketing talents and strategizing the plans that turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator. Securing enough marketing budgets for all the activities had been the second most pressing challenge. But I learnt to optimize various components of the strategies and over the time demonstrated positive marketing ROI. Managing the website was the biggest challenge when we entered the market. It is actually still high on my list of priorities as it is an asset that keeps working round the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you achieve your goals. Last, the biggest challenge in an online business is building a Brand and awareness without the visibility that comes from being offline in every ‘Kirana’ store in India. But that’s a challenge we’re ready to take on. We are looking for right distribution channel to enter offline market.
Your passion and excitement for your business keeps you working after all exceedingly long hours in spite of the challenges that keep coming your way.
How do you see the growth scenario in this business?
According to Eurometer and Nielsen reports, Indian Market will cross $700 million by the end of 2016 i.e. 5000 Crores INR and is predicted to be much bigger than North America in grooming category where shaving products hold the largest market share. Indian shaving products market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20% till 2020 and maintain its market share position even in 2020. There is a definite possibility for a grooming sector in India to cross Billion Dollar Market in coming years.
We hope to achieve $10 million sales in next three years and achieve over 1 million customers. We aim to become one-stop-solution for grooming products for men and women.
What changes have you experienced in your own self since the day you started the business till now?
Change is constant in a business environment. But I am always willing & eager to embrace and adapt to changes. I think I am a better person since the day I started my business. I grew better at expressing my opinions, managing things, analyzing various aspects of a business. I always believe that change means you’re growing and it is rightly said, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”.