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Friday, December 2, 2022

Meet the college student who built Rs 10 cr cosmetic brand from Rs 200

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A Tamil Nadu undergraduate student has created a cosmetic and skincare brand worth Rs 56 lakh. Surya Varshan founded Naked Nature from his house, formulating products in their kitchen.

Surya Varshan, a 21-year-old undergraduate student in the historic city of Madurai in south Tamil Nadu, where the ancient Tamils had a booming commerce with Rome and Greece, has developed a cosmetic and skincare company with a current revenue of Rs 56 lakh and a valuation of Rs 10 crore. Surya left civil engineering in his second year and is presently in his last year of BSc Biotechnology at Thiagarajar College in Madurai.

Women account for around 65 percent of our clientele. We have clients from all over the world “Surya, the proprietorship firm’s founder, states

“Overall, around 30% of our consumers are from North India, 20% from the Middle East, another 20% from Malaysia and Singapore, and the remainder from other areas of the world.”

Naked Nature is a direct-to-consumer business that sells 47 different goods, including bath products, skin and hair care, lip and eye care, teeth care, infant care, and incense sticks and cones.

Surya began with Rs 200, which he had saved from pocket money given to him by his parents while he was in Class 12.

Surya explains, “My first product was bath salt, which was beneficial to the skin. I made it with Dead Sea salt that I bought in Mumbai and flower extracts,”

His mother is from the Thoothukudi area, which is known for its salt pans.

Surya, who has always been interested in business, says, “So I was aware of the advantages of salt and came up with the concept of creating bath salt. I, too, aspired to create a business and provide employment for others from an early age.”

The family lives in a 600-square-foot bungalow in Madurai’s Sandhaipettai, where he began his company, preparing product formulas in the kitchen and drying them on the terrace.

When he was in Class 12, he began experimenting with bath salt. “By the time we took our Class 12 board test, the product was finished. I had 12 of these jars in the initial batch and tried to sell them in stores, but no one was interested. It was quite difficult to market the items.”

Surya enrolled in the BE Civil Engineering program at Jeppiar Engineering College in Chennai, roughly 465 kilometers from Madurai, in 2017. But he didn’t give up on his business idea and would go to Madurai every weekend to work on it, producing the items and visiting businesses to sell them.

He planned to leave Chennai on Friday night and travel to Madurai on Sunday night in order to attend college on Monday morning. During this time, he was continually brainstorming new methods to promote his items.

Recounting his most frustrating experience since starting his firm, Surya recalls, “One day I had an idea. However, none of them replied positively, and I was unable to make a single sale. I was heartbroken.”

He has received several insults when visiting establishments to advertise his items. But he didn’t give up and instead proceeded to call physicians in Madurai.

An ayurvedic doctor purchased one container of bath salt for her elderly parents who were suffering from joint discomfort. She phoned Surya a week later and requested him to furnish six jars every week.

Surya gained confidence in his items’ marketability after the initial breakthrough. He persuaded his parents to move him to Velammal Engineering College in Madurai, where he completed his BE Civil Engineering degree in the second year.

He was able to focus more on his company when his father gave him a Royal Enfield Bullet.

At one point, he realized that selling online would be a better alternative since no one would know the owner is a college student, and no one would buy his things on credit, as the businesses had been doing – postponing payments by three months.

He also recognized that in order to launch an internet business, he needed additional items, and he couldn’t start with only one. He needed money to spend in R&D and develop new items. Through You Tube and Facebook, I learnt about internet advertising and digital marketing.

Revealing how he obtained funds to extend his product offering, Surya explains, “Then I began taking online classes on similar topics, charging Rs 400 for a couple of three-hour sessions. I taught them through Zoom and even built ecommerce websites for a few companies.”Through these endeavors, I made around Rs 2.20 lakh, which I invested in manufacturing new things to sell online.”

In 2019, he left Vellammal College to pursue BSC Biotechnology at Thiagarajar College, which was more relevant to his work.

Surya is presently an incubatee at Crescent Innovation & Incubation Council (CIIC), Chennai, where his business has been valued at Rs 10 crore. To help him grow his firm, CIIC has granted him a grant of Rs 30 lakh, which will be paid out in installments.

Today, Naked Nature sells 47 items ranging from Rs 150 (Hibiscus Bath Soap) to Rs 400 (Manjistha Face Toner), and the firm made Rs 56 lakh in revenue during fiscal year 2021-22.

Surya has established an 800 square foot manufacturing plant in Annupanadi, Madurai, and already employs six people. Their goods are also sold in nine outlets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.

Surya concluded, “We are completely debt-free, and you could say I started this firm with only Rs 200. I am reinvesting every penny we earn in the business.”

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