How this bootstrapped maternity startup grew 6X amid the pandemic and hit Rs 6 Cr revenue in FY21
In July 2018, Surbhi Bhatia founded Bengaluru-based maternity startup The Mom Store as another step in her "personal motherhood journey", driven by the search for products that were missing or not easily available in the Indian market.
Started with an initial capital of Rs 3 lakh and three products, the online portal now provides a wide variety of maternity wear, nursing accessories, baby clothing, feeding gear, and other essentials.
The maternity startup has grown significantly since launch, expanding its product range to 5,700 SKUs for The Mom Store plus 1,700+ SKUs for onboarded vendors in its curated marketplace mode. It has sold 1,00,000+ orders in the last year and achieved revenue growth of Rs 6 crore, 200X the invested amount, for FY21.
The Mom Store, which generated Rs 2 crore and Rs 50 lakh in revenues in the fiscal year 2019 and 2018 respectively, is currently at an annual revenue run rate of Rs 12 crore for 2021-22."We have had 6x growth in the past two years and are growing at a steady pace as we continue to widen our offerings and reach a larger customer base through our marketing, social media, and SEO efforts," Surbhi tells HerStory.
These five startups are redefining maternity wear for expectant mothers in India"We have touched the lives of more than 200,000+ women across India by providing maternity apparel that is nursing-friendly, yet stylish, functional, and comfortable. We also have a wide range of infant wear, accessories and essentials, starting from preemie sizes that moms can easily rely on for quality and comfort," she says.
Over the years, the founder has introduced 30 major categories and 65 sub-categories across mother-baby products and delivers across India and the world.
Apart from selling on its own website, The Mom Store's products are also available on other marketplaces, including Myntra, Amazon, Firstcry, Ajio, Hopscotch, etc. It forayed into offline retail with a launch in select Mothercare stores in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
"We intend to become a complete mother and baby umbrella brand and offer all products needed throughout the pregnancy and motherhood stages. We have a thriving blogging community with thousands of articles shared by mothers across India, and are working towards building a thriving community," Surbhi says."We will also continue to grow our own marketplace model where we have more than 15 onboarded brands and will continue to tie up with other brands with unique offerings in this segment."
Recalling the beginning, Surbhi says that the maternity market was "pretty much non-existent in India" when she decided to startup."There were limited choices for a to-be or new mom and a lack of brands that she could trust for herself and her baby. I launched The Mom Store in 2018 to solve this gap in the market," Surbhi says.
An alumnus of IIM Kozhikode, Surbhi worked as a strategy consultant for telecom and media technology at Deloitte in the US, and later managed the Business Excellence team at Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited, which includes brands like Peter England and Allen Solly, among others.
Starting up came with its challenges.
"Bootstrapping a business with no prior experience and setting up tech, supply chain, and ops from scratch were the initial challenges. COVID-19 brought huge demand, but the supply chain suffered, with some manufacturers shutting shop, labour issues, and rising raw material prices."She says digital marketing became more expensive as everyone moved to digital. "We had to get creative and ideate to maintain traffic and sales without burning a hole in our pockets."
Operating in the COVID environment as an employer was a challenge as critical members were remote, risks in contracting the virus for ecommerce office staff were heightened due to higher exposure, and operations had to be managed with limited resources, frequent sanitisation, early vaccinations etc.
But, Surbhi says the challenges of the past two to three years have taught her valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and have laid a strong foundation for the 15-member team and the business.
Looking to the future
The Mom Store is now eyeing its first fundraise to rapidly scale the business and "create an indomitable presence in the Indian market".
The idea is to "be the most loved and trusted brand" by mommies all over India."We will strive to provide a great experience through personalised content and an information-based shopping experience that caters to every single milestone in the motherhood journey," Surbhi says.
The brand aims to expand its presence in offline retail through Mothercare, offline popup stores, and exhibitions, and eventually build an experience store in the next three years.
The Mom Store has also created new channels for growth by providing customised corporate gifting solutions for newborn and maternity gifting. This year, the startup has supplied more than 500+ customised gift boxes to corporates, including a fintech giant, a research consultancy and a digital marketing agency.
The startup recently made its silver screen debut as a wardrobe partner for Firsts, a YouTube Web series by Dice Media, getting more than two million views for its maternity apparel worn by the protagonist in Season 6."The maternity market in India is pegged at Rs 2,000 crore, growing at a CAGR of 17 percent year on year and also the fastest-growing segment within womenswear. The kids' apparel market is $1.2 billion and while it is competitive, it is still highly unorganised with few brands. We will operate in the maternity and kids apparel market," Surbhi says.
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Edited by Teja Lele DesaiSujata Sangwan