Introduced in 2017 by Mr. Karan Gupta, under the ambit of R. G. Biocosmetics. QraaMen is an organic men’s grooming product company that is into the supply and manufacturing of natural & organic men’s grooming cosmetic products. The company finds its inspiration from the age-old ancient traditions of the Indian culture. It boasts of the best and naturally fortified ingredients for all its products. QraaMen caters everything in the men’s grooming category from – beard, hair, body to skincare. Over the years, its best-selling product has been the charcoal face wash which is adept for all kinds of skin problems relating to the face. The De-Tan scrubs and cleansers, haircare serums, beard oils, and serums of top-notch quality to choose from.
Mr. Karan Gupta as an expert in Men’s Grooming organic cosmetics has shared his insights on entrepreneurship, the organic beauty market in India, global scenario of Indian startups, future and upcoming trends in the organic beauty industry, challenges of the cosmetic industry, etc. We are publishing an interview with him:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: India has a bigger male population in general. While there are products that focus on particular skin problems or body parts for men’s personal care, there is a stark lack of brands providing a holistic solution as far as grooming and personal care for men is concerned. Many already existing brands are not addressing the current challenges of the male cosmetics industry. In such a situation, Qraamen believes that innovative products and services are essential for growth in a competitive industry while addressing all kinds of skin problems in men. Therefore, Qraamen believes in providing holistic yet specific personal care and grooming solutions to fill in the gap in the male personal care industry.
Apart from the product gap, there is another problem that my brand is trying to solve. Since centuries, men have lived believing that beauty and skincare are something reserved just for women. It is a big problem because male skin has a distinct texture when compared to female. Their skin requirements are totally different as well. In recent years, many brands have tried to change that and educate men about their skincare needs. Now with the rise of awareness and disposable income, more and more men are understanding the unique needs of their skin and opting for male-specific skincare.
Although, the age-old ‘women-only’ stigma is still attached to skincare, which is a big problem that is not letting brands capitalize the entire male populace. Qraamen routinely plans and executes social media campaigns to bust myths and stereotypes around men’s grooming. We also help men aware of their unique personal care and grooming requirements & provide specific products for them.
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: My father Mr. Raj Kumar Gupta holds an extensive experience in the Personal Care Products & FMCG industry as he has been associated for more than 25 Years. He founded RG BIOCOSMETICS PVT.LTD in 2013. It is 2016, when I joined business and realized the need of men’s grooming and came up with Qraa Men. In my initial years, I was always a curious child, questioning things around me, and in a constant pursuit of knowledge, learning under the ambit of my father, I took over as director of QraaMen. Since I joined the company in 2017, some revolutionary ideas were brought by me on the table to modernize the business which paid off immensely.
One such initiative was the introduction of GenZ plans which made the company, Qraa Men, from being confined in Delhi and nearby states to catering to orders all over India. I introduced the company to the digital age and worked tirelessly towards developing an eye-catching, user-friendly portal which proved to be a game-changer. Under my arm, a new vertical dedicated solely to E-commerce was opened and managed exhaustively by me. This paid dividends, and in just about a year the company started receiving 1000s of orders from all over India.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has specific domain expertise.
Ans: Mr. Raj Kumar Gupta- Managing Director
Mr. Karan Gupta- Managing Director, expertise in ecommerce and digital marketing.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: To take the market challenge head on, Qraamen has introduced a range of grooming, personal and skin care products. The aim is to address the market gap when it comes to dedicated products for the unique needs of men. The psyche behind development of our products is that every man is different. They may have different skin, hair or beard problems that cannot be addressed with the many gender-neutral or women’s products available in the market. Therefore, the extensive range of Qraamen tries to address all the skin, beard and hair problems of men. There is something for every man at our company. Another special feature about our products is that we do not believe in using harmful chemicals. So, all our products are formulated with natural ingredients that abide by the rules of Ayurveda.
First customer story-
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Indian men’s grooming market is one of the fastest-growing in the entire world. While most companies in the industry might be aware of this insight, most do not know how to set themselves apart from the competition. The USP of Qraamen is that we know how to make a mark in an industry that is seeing mushrooming growth from new companies in the grooming and personal care domain. We have an excellent manufacturing set-up that helps us get our products from research to the stores in just a short span of time. This enables us to research a market problem, formulate a solution and get it manufactured and ready to ship before other players of the field. That is why our target audience can always expect high-quality and well-researched grooming solutions made with the finest ingredients.
Another point that sets us apart from the competition is our use of herbal and natural ingredients. Men’s grooming and personal care industry has been dominated by harsh chemical products since the longest time. The early players of the industry operated on the flawed logic that men’s skin cannot respond to soft and natural ingredients. Recent research in that regard has changed that opinion. Apart from other new brands, Qraamen is the flag bearer of natural and herbal products for men. We believe that the power of Ayurveda is something that all men should channel for their personal care. Therefore, we design products that start showing a long-lasting effect in a shorter duration of time.
There are so many reasons why Qraamen is unique. Some ways in which our startup stands apart are- when compared to other companies, we have a robust innovations team, an economic range of products and one of the best salon outreach programs.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: It has always been my life’s biggest principle that I do not start anything without prior research and understanding. I try to abide by that rule in every venture I undertake. So, I conducted proper market research and study before entering men’s grooming and personal care industry with Qraamen. Although, I cannot say that I did not assume a few things at the start. For example, I thought that it would be easy to make a mark in the Indian market as we are bridging a big product gap with the brand, but it was not so easy. True, if you address the market issues and present a viable solution, people will accept you sooner rather than later. But there is much more to that. Arriving in the limelight took more time than I expected. I thank god for the prior research and study, as Qraamen’s range of natural and herbal products did make it easier for us to take a strong foothold.
In my mind, the ideal person is a millennial or a Gen Z man above the age of 16 who realizes that his skin has different needs that chemically loaded products in the market cannot solve. He wants to improve the way he looks and is waked enough to understand the effects of what he uses on the environment. In that respect, I am glad to say that my customer base is entirely made up of such men who understand the needs of their skin, beard and hair. Or at least, are in the process of understanding their needs.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: I have always understood the value of failures. I believe that failures are important to nudge you in the right direction and they take place when you actually need to be redirected. I accept failures as milestones that help move us in the right direction. That being said, I am not embarrassed to accept that I have failed more than once. But each of those times, I have quickly understood the problem, found a solution and redirected my efforts swiftly to solve it. For example, when I started Qraamen, I was taking inspiration from western brands for the products while neglecting the rich and abundant curative culture that exists in our own country. I quickly realized that there is already a big humdrum of such inspired products in the Indian market for men and mine would just get lost in the crowd. So, I quickly reacted to the problem and invested in surveying my target audience to understand their issues, personalities and preferences better. That is when I properly understood people’s inclination towards our own ancient medicinal culture instead of the super-ingredients from the west. I decided to undo my failure by quickly revising the range and trying to bring the essence of Ayurveda into our range of affordable products for men.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We are into beauty category, here there is nothing free. We have priced our products in the premium category. Mens grooming in relatively a very new market and Indian men have just started taking care of themselves, we are targeting the niche audience as of now.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: It is a self-funded company, there is no external funding done as of now.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail. (e.g., what is the current turnover? From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment etc.)
Ans: First year of our launch has made us understand the economics and demand of the market. It has been the year of lessons. Next year 2018-19 we have done a turnover of 30 crores GMV value. 2019-20 it was 40crores GMV.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Undoubtedly, yes. In my humble opinion, every startup has a big picture. This generation of entrepreneurs is not just limited to try and solve a problem. They always have a bigger motive. Qraamen also has a dream that it wants to achieve using its products. We want to create a generation of men that has the knowledge and means of taking care of themselves. They would not care about the gender-specific stereotypes when it comes to beauty and personal care. Without being offensive, want to put it out there that the products meant for women or unisex products might not be sufficient or effective enough to respond to the unique needs of men. That being said, there are products in the men’s grooming market that contain artificial fragrances, paraben and sulphates because many companies believe that they cannot solely rely on natural ingredients while crafting products for the male populace. We aim to create a generation of aware men who know that such artificial products not only hurt their skin or hair but also the environment. We want to instill the values of our ancient medicinal culture in our products, which we want to trickle into the lives and personas of our target buyers. Thus, with Qraamen, we want to put a message out there that everything men need is present in nature and taking care of oneself has never been unmanly.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: We believe that your journey towards success is only complemented by your knowledge of your competition. So, I have always tried to keep a basic understanding of my brand’s top competitors, their products, their latest activities, their campaigns, just to notice the trends of the industry and find ways in which my own brand can do better. I think I have to give my innovations team credit that I never had to copy or follow my competition as my brand’s focus was always the customers. To name a few, we believe Beardo, The Man Company, Ustra and MensXP as our top competitors. Although, our attitude of directing our efforts towards the customers, instead of competition has always helped us. We routinely perform surveys and research to take a feel of current market trends, preferences, inspirations, problems for our target audience. In this way, we are able to get our hands on the pulse of the industry, as the companies take ideas from what their customers fancy. Supported by Qraamen’s dedicated innovations team and manufacturing setup, we are able to quickly formulate a solution for the existing market problems and produce a product that could hit the stores as fast as possible. This tendency to always take time to understand our customers before our competition is what differentiates us from them.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Qraamen operates on the premise of constant improvement. We do not stand still at any point. We have conducted a survey and made note of trends, requirements and aspirations of the metrosexual men. In the next six months, we aim to bring a new and improved range of products to solve those issues and satisfy those aspirations for our target audience. Since more and more brands and products are mushrooming the Indian market for men, we want to carve our niche and stick to it. Some innovative products that we are planning to bring for men are Gold Oils, Keratin-infused Hair Serum, Hydra Boost Moisturiser, Onion Oil etc. We are constantly finding room for improvement in our products, operations, online and retail strategy, salon outreach programs and much more to make our customers permanent and catch the interest of new ones. We have found that men in semi-urban and urban areas are an untapped market while most companies focus on metrosexual men. Our innovations team is constantly bringing out new strategies to gain their attention. We plan to first understand these new audiences, their needs, affordability and wants. After that, we will bring out natural, effective and affordable products that can help them look and feel better. By 2024, we aim to reach the market valuation of INR 140 crores.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: To my fellow entrepreneurs, I would like to deliver a message that you have chosen a tough but rewarding life. You might have to work twice as hard at first, but remember that no effort, no knowledge, nothing ever really goes to waste. One lesson from my life that I would like to share with my fellows is that do not fall in love with the products you make. It is very easy to be consumed by a sense of superiority and start considering your product as the best in the market. However, this same love has been the reason for the downfall of many mighty kings in business. Set your mind on the fact that there will always be room for improvement in your product or products, even when you are at the top. Always take time to understand the needs and aspirations of your customers, try to get a sense of the market to decide the kinds of products that might interest your target audience. Do not consider any version of your product as final. Bring constant changes to the way your company works and experiment regularly. If they work, you will learn something new. If they fail, you still learn something new.