Carmesi, a startup that sells ‘natural’ sanitary pads via a subscription-based model
Carmesi aims to capture the top 10 percent of the market in India.
Natural is a catchword being used for products across a variety of sectors. A New Delhi-based startup, Carmesi, claims that its sanitary pads are all-natural which is targeted at the premium segment. The ‘natural’ claim comes from the key ingredients used in its manufacture -- corn starch and bamboo fibre. The corn starch is believed to eliminate the risk of skin issues while the bamboo fibre is said to provide leakage protection. The back-sheet is made of compostable bio-plastic allowing zero leakage, making the pads 100 percent biodegradable and organic.
In India, the awareness of menstrual hygiene is not very high irrespective of the plethora of brands selling sanitary pads at all price points. The government has also stepped into the sector with its Suvidha initiative to make biodegradable sanitary pads available at Rs 2.50 per piece sold at over 3,200 centres across the country. Yet, India is one of the least penetrated markets when it comes to menstrual hygiene at less than 20 percent while China stands at about 70 percent.
A 2017 report by market research firm Euromonitor revealed that the Indian feminine hygiene product market was valued at $340 million and is expected to reach $522 million in 2020. Carmesi aims to capture the top 10 percent of the market in India.
The founders – Tanvi Johri, a business graduate and Rikshav Borah—started Carmesi in November 2017. Both have worked in the sector – Borah co-founded Dudegenie, a chat-based personal assistant app which was later acquired by Yatra.com while Johri worked with a few startups.
Carmesi, Spanish for ‘crimson’, came from a personal experience of 25-year-old Johri, like almost all startups are wont to with regard to their founders. Johri experienced skin issues when she used sanitary pads. Besides, she realized that women had to hide their sanitary pads while taking it out of their bags in public spaces due the lack of single unit packaging. The company was launched in November 2017.
Armed with this knowledge, the duo decided to change not just the product but also its packaging and delivery. Carmesi’s pads get home-delivered tailored to the period dates of a woman, and she also gets to choose her desired mix of sizes. It also addresses the hygienic disposal of soiled pads by providing each unit of pads in a zip locked disposal bag. Tailored as it is to the premium category, it is priced two to three times higher than conventional pads available in the market. The smallest pack (a monthly pack of 10 pads) costs Rs 349, 3-month (30 pads) at Rs 999, 6-month (60 pads) at Rs 1,799 while a 12 month pack (120 pads) costs Rs 2,999.
Johri says that the startup has no competition in the niche category. “We do not compete with any of the existing brands available in the market as we are the only one catering to the premium segment,” she claims.
The startup was founded on the personal savings of the founders and in May raised an undisclosed seed round from a group of angel investors comprising of Sunil Kalra and Arun Venkatachalam from the Murugappa Group, among others. “The funding helped us get a deep understanding of the market, and launch a pad,” said Johri. Carmesi expects to breakeven in a year or so. "Currently we are serving over 5,000 customers month-on-month. With a customer base of over 25,000, we are growing at a rate of about 30 percent month-on-month,” said Johri.
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