The inspiration behind establishing JURU Yoga – a first of its kind yoga brand from India, was to make the best yoga mats in the country where Yoga finds its roots and to ensure that all the products that are made to aid one’s practice, reflect and value the peaceful principles that yoga embodies; one of which is to establish perfect harmony with nature.
The existing yoga mats are made of PVC and are toxic in nature, these mats tend to slip during practise and is the major cause for yoga injuries. The JURU Yoga mats are everything a yogi needs to aid his practise made of European cork and natural rubber from Kerala, a truly made in India product.
Puja Borker, the Founder, a certified yoga teacher who has developed Teacher Training Curriculum for yoga studios. She is also a published author and currently the head of content and the subject matter expert. Puja works closely with partners and manufacturers to identify new materials that can be made into yoga products.
Sudarshan Borker , with 14 years in sales and marketing mainly business development manages the brand communication and sales channels. With 11 years of experience as a founder of two not so successful startups, he has also worked with other founders and has a vast entrepreneurial experience.
We are publishing an interview with Puja:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: With the growing popularity of yoga there is also an increase of yoga products such as yoga mats yoga blocks and other accessories, most of these products are made from toxic PVC which is not very easy to recycle and end up in landfills also polluting the ocean. There are no trusted yoga brands in the market which promotes the use of such products with a yoga-centric customer base.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: All our products are made of sustainable raw material and made in India. Our best selling product is the JURU mat which is made of cork and natural rubber and offers the best grip to practitioners which is a big problem with these regular PVC mats. When we first launched the JURU mat in 2014, we focussed on the feedbacks we received from yoga teachers and worked on improving the product to suit the yoga practitioner’s daily use. We and our customers are today happy with what we have achieved.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: We are the pioneers in developing the cork yoga mat in India. The JURU mat is made of the highest quality raw material and is patent pending. The JURU mat is recognised by AGNii by GoI for innovation.
Yes, there are some inferior quality cork mats in the market but our product quality and customer testimonials speak for itself.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
Ans: Since the launch in 2016 we have been delivering our products to yogis around the world who also cares about the environment and is looking for sustainable and eco-friendly products in yoga. We also have established retail partnerships with some of the best retailers in India and also supply our products to top eco-resorts such as Four Seasons and Intercontinental in SEA and have some strategic partnerships with fitness startups.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: Personally, my biggest failure as an entrepreneur has been that I wasn’t involved completely in all operations. Today I understand my role and also have mastered the skill of wearing multiple hats from Packing to Product Development.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our Yoga mats range from INR 2500 – 3000 and other props and accessories range from INR 500-1500. We try and keep the pricing affordable for a premium quality product.
Yoga is growing and JURU as a sustainable yoga brand also needs to compete with PVC products which are popular and commonly used. We plan to add more value to our customer in the future, they will not just get a JURU product but a lot more along with it 🙂
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Our first customers where yoga teachers who we met during our stall we took up at the Yoga Festival in Goa, 2014 apart from that Amazon Launchpad was one of the early online platforms for us to gain our first 500 customers.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: Yes, there are many actually, One such success story was when a French yogi who was visiting India and placed an order after calling us and was leaving for France soon. We shipped the products via express but somehow did not get delivered. We don’t like unhappy customers, so we shipped the mat to her to France on our own cost. What we got in return was a long email and a couple of more orders from France the same week.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We are a bootstrapped startup.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Yes, we started from the key category of yoga mats to yoga props. The yoga market is just growing and there are many opportunities for a trusted brand like JURU to add more products and also create more value for the customer. We are not just growing a brand but a community. There is a lot more to see coming from JURU!
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: A trusted yoga lifestyle brand from India which promotes and markets products made out of India genius and sustainable raw materials and has its strong value of being sustainable, eco-friendly and made in India.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: We have global competitors like Manduka and Jade Yoga which we look up to them as these are brands also focus on eco friendly yoga solutions and also influence this category to grow. The market is big for 3 top players and One has to be from India!
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: To increase our current revenue and also introduce new products.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Entrepreneurship is not easy, but if you have the persistence to show up at work everyday and do what is needed to be done, it will happen. The key is not to give up and undervalue your passion.
Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: As a sustainable yoga brand our efforts are also to create awareness about the toxic use of plastics in everyday life and how it affects the ocean. One of our initiatives is to give a Bamboo straw along with the JURU mat to create this awareness. We started JURU to reduce the use of PVC in yoga and this fight will only get bigger and stronger with the growing yoga community.
‘loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu‘ which means ‘may all being’s be happy’
Thanks Puja. Best wishes!