India is slowly but surely moving away from considering menstruation as a taboo and realising the importance of having a proper hygiene care ecosystem in place.
Thane-based Avni is also working to provide holistic menstrual care solutions. Founded in 2020 by wife-husband duo Sujata Pawar and Apurv Agrawal, Avni provides innovative and eco-friendly menstrual care products for women. Both Sujata and Apurv have completed Bachelors in Pharmacy and MBA in marketing. The duo has worked with several pharma brands over the years and eventually launched their own venture.
The reason behind starting up Avni was fueled by Sujata’s own experience with existing menstrual products. Having realised the challenges of existing plastic pads and the advantages of reusable cloth pads, Sujata launched Avni to help women make the eco-friendly shift.
Sujata explains that sanitary napkins made out of plastic contain chemicals that are definitely tested and verified, but using such products regularly for a long time can indeed cause infections or skin irritation, especially for women with extremely sensitive skin.
The startup has come up with eco-friendly products like organic and reusable sanitary pads as well as cotton disposable pads.
The startup recently raised $75,000 in its seed funding round led by We Founder Circle (WFC). The round also saw participation from angel investors Amit Tyagi and Srikanth Iyengar.
“We launched Avni with our first core product being antimicrobial reusable and organic cotton sanitary pads, Avni Safepad. It has been designed with three layers of high-performance fabrics and antimicrobial technology to keep women safe from infections. The product is not only safe for women, but also for the environment as is organic and reusable for up to three years,” Sujata says.
Eventually, Avni expanded its business to launch more products in the menstrual care category.
Sujata explains that since most of the women were accustomed to using disposable sanitary napkins, Avni launched cotton disposable pads Avni Ezeepad. The products do not contain plastic and are completely made out of cotton.
Apart from this, the startup also provides menstrual cups designed with medical-grade silicone. In a bid to encourage a shift to eco-friendly products, Avni also provides “Green Period Kit” combo offers to its customers.
“We have also launched 24X7 helpline numbers to help people with their queries about the products,” she adds.
Business and more
According to a report by ResearchAndMarket, the Indian feminine hygiene products market is expected to reach Rs 70.20 billion by 2025 from Rs 32.66 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 16.87 percent.
Speaking about the business model, Sujata says Avni sells its products online via its own website and other ecommerce platforms such as Flipkart, Amazon, Qtrove, 1mg, Shycart, Upciclo, and ThePinkBox.
“Apart from this, the products are available in around 27 retails stores across India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad. Avni claims to have served around 5,000 women to date,” she adds.
Sujata explains that Avni mainly sees traction from three categories of women including new mothers, women with sensitive skin, and those who personally wish to make the organic switch. With people increasingly realising the importance of switching to healthier and eco-friendly alternatives, several notable players have come up in this space.
Other notable players in the female sanitary products space include Stonesoup, Nua, Carmesi, and Plush among others. Avni recently raised its seed funding and is looking to deploy the funds for product development and expanding the product line. Apart from this, it will also use a part of funds for more on-ground initiatives for creating more awareness.
“We strategically raised a small amount in this round. Keeping our growth plans in mind we aim at a bigger round by August 2021,” says Sujata.