How This Startup is Pioneering Sustainable Wellness with Circular Economy and Eco-Conscious Approach

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Bharat Bansal - CEO, Surbhi Bansal and Rajeev Bansal - COO - Founding Team of Nirmalaya
Bharat Bansal - CEO, Surbhi Bansal and Rajeev Bansal - COO - Founding Team of Nirmalaya
Nirmalaya Logo

Nirmalaya is an eco-conscious aroma brand based in Sahibabad, India, which was launched on October 8th, 2020. The homegrown Indian brand specializes in 100% charcoal-free aromatic incense sticks, cones, backflow idols, essential oils, organic diffusers, and havan cups, and is already popular with conscious consumers who appreciate products made from recycled flowers and natural ingredients. They have now expanded their product line to include ittars, organic gulals for Holi, and essential aroma oils.

Nirmalaya is currently in conversation to raise their Pre-series A round of funding after successfully raising $800,000 in a Seed funding round, led by Artha Venture Fund and other marquee angels. The India incense sticks market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 8.8% during 2023-2028, and with innovative brands like Nirmalaya dominating the market, it’s set to grow even further.

Bharat Bansal, CEO & Co-Founder of Nirmalaya
Bharat Bansal, CEO & Co-Founder of Nirmalaya

We are publishing an interview with Mr. Bharat Bansal, CEO & Co-Founder of Nirmalaya:

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:
We are a company based on the model of the circular economy. We have derived a value out of floral waste and intend to continue doing this in future and are known today for our fragrances. A major cohort of our customers is the ones purchasing our products for aromatherapy. If we talk about wellness, there are 7 types of wellness and Nirmalaya very well focuses on 3 out of them i.e. environmental, spiritual and emotional. So with recycling floral waste, we focus on wellness to curate our products.

Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: Bharat Bansal – CEO & Co-Founder
Bharat is a commerce graduate from Delhi University with ~10 years of work experience. He started Banbros Consulting, an accounting outsourcing company, in 2016, where he led a team of +30 members. Under his leadership, the Company grew its client base to serve +30 startups and ~60 other clients, including Cleardekho.com, Sattviko, Indiabulls, AngelList, etc. He looks after Business Development, Finance, and Online Sales at Nirmalaya.

Surbhi Bansal – CBO & Co-Founder
A CA turned entrepreneur, Surbhi has worked with Vaish Associates, a law firm, and Alstrong Enterprises in the past and has ~7 years of accounting background. She was heading GST at Banbros Consulting and has worked with brands like Revlon, Phillips, HDFC Bank, etc. She handles B2B partnership, Designing, and Product Development at Nirmalaya.

Rajeev Bansal – COO
Rajeev, a commerce graduate, and a second-generation entrepreneur comes with prior experience in Real Estate, Brick manufacturing, and the Civil Construction industry. He has also worked as a team leader in sales and marketing at Max Life Insurance. He heads operations and takes care of the entire manufacturing process.

Dhruv Arora – VP of Marketing

A marketing professional with more than 20 yrs of experience in building brands and creating impact. He is a marketing graduate from IIPM, Delhi and B.tech from REC, Kurukshetra. He has played a major role in growth with complete marketing management of brands like Sketchers, Pedro, Charles & Keith, Naturalizer, Olympus cameras, Blackberry mobiles, Nokia, and Fitness First in the GCC region and in India with PVR Cinemas and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

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:
We are a company based on the model of the circular economy. We have derived a value out of floral waste and intend to continue doing this in future and are known today for our fragrances.

Circular Economy at Its Finest This Startup Turns Floral Waste into Fragrances
Circular Economy at Its Finest This Startup Turns Floral Waste into Fragrances

A major cohort of our customers is the ones purchasing our products for aromatherapy. If we talk about wellness, there are 7 types of wellness and Nirmalaya very well focuses on 3 out of them i.e. environmental, spiritual and emotional. So with recycling floral waste, we focus on wellness to curate our products.  We started with 6 fragrances in Incense sticks, cones and Dhoop sticks and Havan cups and today we have 15+ fragrances, with Havan Cup being our star product.  We specialise in 100% charcoal-free aromatic incense sticks, cones, backflow idols, essential oils, organic diffusers, and havan cups are already popular with woke consumers, who swear by the products made from recycled flowers and natural ingredients. We have now launched ittars, organic gulals for holi and essential aroma oils as well.

Empowering Rural Women and Dominating the Aroma Industry
Empowering Rural Women and Dominating the Aroma Industry

Since we believe in spirituality, we offered our first product to god as soon it was ready.  Then our team, because they had to work on taking the brand to another level and that is how we started selling our products.

Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: When compared with our competitors, we have an extremely attractive and standardized price point along with better quality and a wide range. This makes the customer lean towards our product. Along with that, our fragrance is something unmatchable in the market. While it smells amazing it also lasts for more than 24- 48 hours. Also, India is the biggest manufacturer and exporter of incense in the world exporting incense to over 150 countries. The total market size of incense is over 11000 crores, with the increasing demand for premium products due to an increase in disposable income and awareness for healthy and sustainable products. That said, Our fragrance is something unmatchable in the market. While it smells amazing it also lasts for more than 24- 48 hours.

Eco-conscious aroma brand, Nirmalaya gives employment to 100+ rural women in their journey of building sustainable wellness products
Eco-conscious aroma brand, Nirmalaya gives employment to 100+ rural women in their journey of building sustainable wellness products

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.?
Ans:
Our products start from Rs. 150/- per box for incense sticks, dhoop and cones. Hawan cups which is one of our best-selling products is priced at Rs. 300 per pack. Our essential oils also start from Rs. 299 and go up to Rs. 599/-. Then we have ittars priced at Rs. 799/- per bottle. We have a  beautiful range of gift boxes starting at 349/- to Rs. 2999/-. With the range of products that we have, we consider ourselves to be in the premium and affordable premium segment.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans:
Our investors are Artha Ventures, Shiprocket, and other key angels who are experienced in investing and helping start scale up and build.

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail.
Ans: We serve around 6000 appx. customers on a monthly basis while our monthly website visitors are 70000 appx. We are recycling 40 tons of waste flowers every month. Our floral waste is collected from 300 temples across Delhi NCR every day and recycled by over 100+ women workers. We have zero-waste, biodegradable incense sticks that are charcoal free and have less than 3% carbon emissions as compared to normal incense sticks that release around 80% carbon emissions. Our sales have seen a jump of 400% in FY 21-22 when compared to FY 20-21. We are available on  6+, across mediums for the ease of every consumer. We also have 40% of returning customers every month.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans:
The market is growing many folds especially because people are becoming more and more conscious about mental wellness, the environment and sustainability, and they want to contribute to the environment in some way or the other. There is growth in the disposable income of the customer in turn allowing him to buy good quality products irrespective of price, which is a positive point for a brand like us. We have various competitors in the segment because of the large size of the overall wellness sector. While others focus only on recycling the flower, our prime focus is waste management via recycling the flowers as well as wellness through fragrance. Apart from this, our product portfolio is wide when compared to our competitors. We have 4 products- incense sticks, hawan cups, cones, and dhoop sticks along with gulal, essential oils, attars, etc. Along with that, the fragrance that we offer is quite long-lasting, better than any other product available in the market and the smoke from our products also does not suffocate.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself from them?
Ans:
  We have various competitors in the segment because of the large size of the overall wellness sector. While others focus only on recycling the flower, our prime focus is waste management via recycling the flowers as well as wellness through fragrance. Apart from that our product portfolio is wide when compared to our competitors. We have 4 products- incense sticks, hawan cups, cones, and dhoop sticks along with gulal, essential oils, attars, etc. Our SKU distribution is quite broad when compared to our competitors. Along with that, the fragrance that we offer is quite long-lasting, better than any other product available in the market.