Women’s wellness startup co-founded by former Ola employee raises seed funding
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Azah Personal Care Pvt. Ltd, a premium organic wellness startup for women, on Thursday, said it has raised $200,000 (about Rs 1.4 crore at current exchange rates) in a seed round of funding from a group of individual investors.

Four investors put in money, of which two are high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) and two are executives of venture capital-funded consumer internet companies, Shashwat Diesh, co-founder at Azah, told VCCircle without disclosing the identities of the investors.

In a separate statement, Diesh said that the company will use the money to drive its research and development, optimise the supply chain and improve customer experience through its platform.

Azah, which was founded by Diesh and Aqib Mohammed in November last year, aims to become a one-stop solution for high-quality hygiene products for women in India. The company's first product is an organic cotton sanitary pad that is super absorbent, free of harmful synthetics and has regulatory approval.

The company has crossed 7,500 customers and has sold more than 200,000 pads across India in the past five months.

"We are looking to achieve 10 times growth with respect to order volumes within 12 months," said Diesh. Venture capital firms have also approached the company to fund its next investment round, he added without disclosing the details.

Co-founder Mohammed said that there is a need for more innovative and premium-quality products in this sector given the growing disposable incomes and increased menstrual hygiene awareness among Indian women.

Diesh, a graduate of R V College of Engineering in Bengaluru, had earlier worked with ride-hailing firm Ola and e-commerce company Snapdeal while Mohammed, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee alumnus, had earlier worked with IT services company Effy and Mobiport, Inc, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Deals in the space

The Indian sanitary napkin market is dominated by Procter & Gamble’s Whisper and Johnson & Johnson’s Stayfree brands, according to a report by Research and Markets. The market was valued at nearly $414 million in 2016 and is projected to touch around $596 million by 2022, said the report.

Startups working in the women's wellness and hygiene space have been attracting funding from investors over the past few years.

Last month, venture capital firm Lightbox India Advisors Pvt. Ltd made its debut investment from its third fund in a female wellness brand Nua, which currently makes sanitary pads and sells online.

In August last year, Carmesi, a premium natural and biodegradable sanitary pad brand, raised $500,000 in its pre-Series A round of funding from a clutch of individual investors.

The following month, VCCircle reported that hygiene products maker Wetex raised funding from a venture capital firm.

Noida-based Soothe Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, the company behind the Paree brand of sanitary napkins, attracted significant investor interest. In late 2016, Vini Cosmetics promoter Darshan Patel picked up a majority stake in the company. In 2017, VCCircle reported that Vini Cosmetics was all set to gain a controlling stake in Soothe Healthcare.

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