With over 18 years of entrepreneurial experience in marketing and strategy, Umang Srivastava has an unusually accurate knack of understanding the needs of the consumer. And this is what led him establish Bonita along with Neeraj Mittal.
Bonita is an emerging international player in home utility products that is single-handedly changing the face of its market. Established with an underlying desire to make modern households more convenient and appealing, the company was launched in 2012 by Casa Brands India Private.
In a candid chat with Entrepreneur India, Srivastava, Joint Managing Director of Bonita reveals some interesting stories about his journey, brand, and scale-up plans.
Embarking on entrepreneurial journey
I started my career as a management trainee in 1997 at Trident Group (Ludhiana) and over a period of 7 years, I became the head of International Marketing for the Towels Division. In 2004, I took the challenge to set-up the exports division of Art d’inox and within a short span of 3 years I was able to make Art d’inox from an unknown entity to a big brand in the houseware business. This was a big achievement because, in 2005, Indian brands were not considered good enough to be exported under their own name. I could do all this because there was an inherent inclination towards innovation and entrepreneurship in me.
Bridging the market gap
Bonita was launched 4 years ago in India. We realized that there was a huge potential in the Indian market of home utility goods especially in everyday use products like ironing, drying, organizing, storage, and kitchen stuff. The available products were substandard and lacked innovation and quality. It was an unorganized market dominated by cheap imports from China. Indian consumer did not have access to aesthetically-designed, world class products. Bonita was set up to provide the new-age urban Indian dweller with high quality, innovatively designed home utility products. We started launching our products in metros and gradually spread to tier II cities and even smaller towns.
What’s there behind the name?
Bonita is a French word that means beautiful. The word symbolizes our products and our aim to make our patrons’ house beautiful.
This is how we make money
Our business model is consumer oriented (B2C) and involves revenue streams from various sales channels viz traditional distributor/dealer network in India (selling through 1000+ retail stores), modern retail chains like Shoppers Stop, Home Town, Hypercity, etc., through online websites and TV shopping channels like Snapdeal, Pepperfry, Homeshop 18 and also through corporate tie-ups for consumer offers with brands like Godrej and Bajaj.
Till now, the business has been self-funded. But we will be going in for an initial round of funding this year. Our idea was to build a sustainable model, build profits and use the money for growth. As I said, we are a self-funded company at present. There are some investors who have shown interest in funding our business; we will be going for a initial round of funding this year.
All about my team/product
We are a close-knit team of 50 members. We encourage innovative ideas to develop our products. Constant brainstorming, open-house discussions, and intra-team discussions are a regular practice at our office.
In terms of products, Bonita has products under 4 categories, laundry, storage, organizing, and kitchen. There are several revolutionary products under each category. Each of our products caters to a particular need of the consumer. Bonita has been very well received both in domestic and international markets. We have a presence in more than 25 countries.
Mentors in your entrepreneurial journey
My greatest inspiration has been P.K. Markanday, CEO, Trident, with whom I worked for 7 years. I learned a great deal from him in the areas of crisis management, strategy, and positioning. I have also learned a lot from Sugato Bose CEO of Artd’inox.
I strongly believe in...
I think the business strategy is something that drives an organization, so it has to be created at the time of launch/of a business and the strategy has to be written with the entire process/sub-processes. Also business ethics is something, I believe, should never change. It is what makes you the professional you are.
A moment which I will always Cherish
Acceptance of Bonita as the only Indian brand in Bed Bath & Beyond – one of the most prestigious brands in US -- was a high point in my life. So was the CII Award for the most promising start up.
My scale-up plan
We are growing @ 100 per cent YOY. And this is the forecast for the next 5 years. We already have a presence in 25 countries. Our focus is to increase the depth of our penetration in these geographies and become India’s biggest home utilities brand.
We are an established brand across these sales channels and have emerged as one of the top brands in this segment. We also sell under our own brand, Bonita, in several countries like USA (through various websites like Wayfair, Amazon, Zulily, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc), UAE (through websites like Wysada&Souq) and Australia/NZ. This year, Bonita will be available through more than 35 countries by end of 2016.
Entrepreneurial journey has made me more...
Social, expressive, confident person than what I was earlier.
This is what I do when I am free
I’m a running enthusiast. I love reading autobiographies, biographies, self-help and consumer psychology books. I’m also a movie buff.
My family has made me who I am today
My family has played a very important role in what I am today. The family is a constant source of support, motivation, and encouragement for me.
A glaring lack of smartness and robustness in the home utility space in India convinced Umang of the need to enrich every household with innovative and beautiful products that will not only make lives easier but also add a new quotient to the personality of a house.
Being a strong believer of the “Make in India” campaign, Umang is making sure that Indian brands are recognized globally and by launching Bonita in the international markets is a step in that direction.