India's Baby-tech Startup Industry is Attracting Big Foreign Investors
Online parenting segment is at a massive inflection point in India, opening up a sea of opportunities for new businesses
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Not a single industry has been able to dodge the disrupting effects of technology including the child healthcare. Having n number of young mothers skimming through the internet to derive the right advice and benefit in parenting every day, new players were able to see great potential in the online parenting space for growth.
One of such baby tech startups, BabyChakra is taking giant leaps in the game to stay ahead of its competitors, thanks to its differentiated platform. In its latest step towards growth, the Mumbai-based startup has raised an undisclosed amount of fresh funding from an impressive group of investors, currently serving as senior leaders at major corporate companies.
Not only did BabyChakra get Mark Mobius and Rajesh Sehgal-backed Equanimity Ventures Fund on board for investment but also Facebook director Anand Chandrasekaran; OYO chief strategy officer and ex-Lightspeed Ventures investor Maninder Gulati and Gideon Marks, a Silicon Valley tech investor credited with three NASDAQ public offerings.
The funding will enable the online parenting platform to garner a backing for itself in the market in terms of credibility and expertise believes BabyChakra founder NaiyyaSaggi. "Each investor brings in his/her own experience to a company," Saggi told Entrepreneur India.
If Saggi expects to learn from Facebook director Anand Chandrasekaran's product development expertise, then she also has high hopes from MandarVaidya who used to earlier head healthcare practices at Mckinsey India. "He brings in the deep industry experience on the healthcare ecosystem and how to work with the multiple stakeholders," she said about Vaidya.
Being an ex-Lightspeed Ventures investor, Maninder Gulati brings in his expertise in the business building to the organization and plans to guide the firm in strategic and functional areas like growth, brand, and customer experience. Gulati and Saggi are both McKinsey alums. OYO CSO plans to help BabyChakra with capital raise or important connects without playing any direct operating role in the management.
Investors hardly take interest in unprofitable startups. "While other platforms keep drifting and changing focus on various things like a marketplace for services, e-commerce for baby products, Naiyya, and her team has had a focused approach of building community and content," OYO's Chief Strategy Officer, Maninder Gulati told Entrepreneur India.
Apart from having a dominant market share, "The authenticity and quality of content and discussions have led a very frequent usage and high retention and engagement metrics," added Gulati. India is the largest birth cohort and household number with children in the world, which gives massive opportunities to startups in online parenting space.
"Great passionate leadership and team, solving a real problem, creating a habit-forming product and addressing a huge market in India," Gideon Marks, Silicon Valley Investor & Google Mentor said about BabyChakra in the statement. In today's time and space, young parents are motivated to provide the best for their children and a community with shared goals can be extremely powerful.
"With online access getting easier and better, Naiyya and the team have hit upon the magic formula to scale up rapidly in this direction. Equanimity is excited to be part of this fabulous journey in making BabyChakra the "go to" destination for parents and all professionals and businesses providing services and products for children," Rajesh Sehgal, Managing Director, Equanimity Ventures Fund said in a statement.
Content & Competitors
The online childcare and maternity space are developing. Players such as Parentlane, Tinystep, Healofy among others have been able to make a distinctive presence in the market becoming competition for BabyChakra.
Funding is also available. Healofy recently rose seed funding of $1 million from Omidyar Network whereas TinyStep had raised $2 million from Flipkart in 2017.
Investors have shown an inclination towards funding the startups catering real issues and have the potential to create a trusted community. Saggi feels that other players in the segment are either more blog-like or are trying to build virtual communities without much efforts of personalization whereas BabyChakra ensures engagement through direct handholding from the experts.
"There is a platform which is creating their own content, our content is created by the ecosystem of doctors and mothers. 95% of our content is user-generated content which is created by experts," Saggi said. BabyChakra claims that users read over 50 million content pieces on the platform monthly, the maximum of which is created by experts and users.
Saggi also expressed her belief in team building and claimed to have a great set of talented employees working for the organization. "Products evolve, journeys evolve, stories evolve but it's a team that really builds the company," she said.
Over time, BabyChakra is emerging as an ecosystem for parents across India from just a community and content platform. It claims to have more than 23,000 verified services and 12,000 products over 50 categories in its portfolio. Many women are online these days searching for the best options to provide for their families and children, which works well for the startup in many ways than one.
In the mid-term, BabyChakra is looking to strengthen its region and language specific content and communities and deepen personalization in the product platform. While dealing with such a sector, one needs to be aware of the myths and values prevailing in a particular region along with the language one speak or the kind of practices one needs to follow, kind of rituals she is going to be aware of among others things, pointed Saggi.
Journey so Far
Founded in 2015, BabyChakra has climbed up the corporate ladder relatively faster. Founder NaiyyaSaggi credits the platform's credibility, scalability, massive product line, service portfolio and personalized approach for its success in such a short time. "We are really able to engage and impact our users very differently," she said.
Other investors from the round include Eitan Toledo, a senior director for Program Management at Apple, Dr Mandar Vaidya, and a Senior Director at Apple and former head of Healthcare Practice for McKinsey India and B. Ravishankar, former Chief HR Officer at HCL technologies.
BabyChakra has already secured Seed and Series A funding. BabyChakra had secured Series-A funding from RoundGlass Partners, India's leading digital health investor and seed funding from Mumbai Angels, Patni Family Office and Singapore Angel Network.