This bootstrapped D2C brand is replacing plastic homeware with made-in-India silicone products
As a BCom graduate from the University of Mumbai, Taher Dhanerwala was always fascinated by the way startups and businesses operated. His family owned a small business of silicone products in Mumbai, but Taher wanted to bring an ecommerce edge to the business.
Having worked for the likes of Pharmeasy, Taher felt there was a way to take the small business completely online and he decided to start Rubberfy in 2021 as a one-stop destination for eco-friendly, reusable, and pure silicone household products."I have always been pro-environment and a community person. My market research showed me a rising trend - a large part of the Indian population generally uses toxic and low-quality household accessories. Most of our kitchen, bathing, and baby products are made of plastic and similar products. I decided to do something about this," Taher says.
His idea was to kick out the plastic and replace it with something reusable, durable, and environment-friendly. Rubberfy now sells a range of silicone-based daily-usage household products, including home and kitchenware, bathroom and personal care accessories, brushes and dusters, and more.
Taher says Rubberfy aims to eliminate the plastic footprint of Indian households and "bring a more green approach to household product usage across the country".
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Changing the traditional model
The founder says that his family business started to lose customers after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. He analysed the problem, and realised that the Indian population still wasn't aware of plastic pollution, its perils, and how an alternative eco-friendly lifestyle could help.
As he was into the family business, the process of implementation was easy. However, he decided to forego their traditional model and opt for an innovative, online-first approach.
Taher says he started with an investment of less than Rs 50,000 - and the costs included setting up a website and ancillary costs."We have a small manufacturing unit where we can produce a significant amount of products. Also, we have contract manufacturing with different vendors," he says.
He roped in friends and relatives to test the products, and says more than 80 percent were satisfied with Rubberfy's range of products priced between Rs 149 and Rs 600.
"I delivered a few orders to customers personally. We got a good spike because our products were beneficial and were daily-use household items," he says.
Taher says the startup is focused on acquiring customers through word of mouth and growing organically through social media.
"We have acquired more than 100 paying customers so far. We are focusing on reaching the 1,000 mark in the next three months or so," he adds.
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Tapping a huge opportunity
Initially, Taher focused on running the business frugally. His mother helped with the packaging while his father looked after the inventory. Since then, Rubberfy has grown to a team of five people."As we're a D2C brand, we only spent money on production and logistics. Rubberfy has a gross margin of about 40 percent," Taher says.
He adds that a good manufacturing setup costs would take around Rs 1 crore to Rs 3 crore, and the team is working towards building that.
The bootstrapped startup currently only sells on their website.
Estimated to reach a valuation of $100 billion by 2025, India's D2C market is abuzz with new opportunities and rising investor interest. There are growing startups in different categories like health and wellness, personal care, and more.
"Rubberfy's long-term vision is to capture the household product market and educate the Indian population on how to lead a greener life," Taher says.
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Edited by Teja Lele DesaiSindhu Kashyaap