Website – AVNI
Co-Founder – Sujata Pawar, Apurv Agrawal
In early times, menstruation was considered taboo but with time and development, India slowly but surely moved away and did not make a fuss about the myth of menstruation as a taboo and started understanding the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation environment for women. The idea of providing safe and chemical-free menstruation hygiene led the husband-wife duo, Sujata Parwar and Apurv Agarwal to launch AVNI with the aim of providing innovative and eco-friendly menstrual care products for women.
Sujata and Apurv, both of them did their Bachelor’s in Pharmacy and MBA in Marketing. After working with various Pharma brands, the duo launched their own brand. It all started with an uncomfortable personal experience Sujata had by using commercially available sanitary pads which led to rashes. After this, Sujata had thorough research regarding this issue and observed that the only reason behind this issue was the use of chemical-based pads and to her surprise, it was not just her facing these skin issues but mostly every woman who go through this that leads to health issues in women. These chemical-based pads even have a bad impact on the environment and sanitation workers. As she looked for a sustainable alternative product to these chemical-based pads, she found that there were no alternative and viable products to it. And this is how Sujata along with her husband decided to launch AVNI, a menstrual healthcare startup that is eco-friendly in the year 2020. Sanitary napkin commercially available are made of plastic and contains chemicals, no doubt they are clinically tested and verified but using these products frequently can cause skin issues and infection especially for those women who have sensitive skin. After some time, the duo Sujata and Apurv realized that sanitary napkins can’t just complete one’s menstrual needs as most women use different menstrual healthcare products that cause them harm. So, keeping this in mind the brand came out with Avni Ezeepad and Avni cups.
“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.
The startup brand, named Avni means Earth as a symbol of womanly personification of the mother of all life came out in the market with eco-friendly, organic menstrual healthcare products as well as cotton disposable sanitary napkins. Recently, the brand raised a funding of $75,000 that was invested by We Founder Circle(WFC) and in the same funding round, there was participation from angel investors, Amit Tyagi and Srikanth Iyengar. As most of the women were in a habit to use disposable sanitary napkins, Avni came out with cotton disposable pads called the Avni Ezeepad which are chemical-free and purely made of cotton. Besides this, the brand offer well-designed menstrual cups with top-quality medical grade silicon. In an urgent need to encourage and make awareness among women to use eco-friendly menstrual healthcare products, Avni serves its customers with ‘Green Period Kit’ as a combo offer.
“Apart from this, the products are available in around 27 retail stores across India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad. Avni claims to have served around 5,000 women to date,” she adds.
Avni mainly targets three categories of women that includes new mothers, women, and sensitive skin. Seeing the rapid growth in people realising the importance and need of eco-friendly menstrual healthcare products, several other eco-friendly brands came out in the market such as Nua, Plush, Stonesoup and many more.
Exclusive Interview with Mrs Sujata Pawar
What made you strike this business idea? What inspired you to start this company?
Every idea sprouts from a pressing need. It happened when I faced skin rashes due to the use of commercial sanitary pads. When I interacted with friends, I realised that it was not just me but a lot of women who face this challenge. My healthcare background helped me dig deeper into the ill effects of plastic and chemicals used in commercial sanitary pads. To my surprise, there were very few credible sources available for reliable information. All of this made me go back to traditional cloth pads as I had used them as a young menstruator. The experience was so comfortable and zero waste. That is when I decided to launch Avni. We aim to build a go-to place for all things about holistic menstrual health.
When did you start your business?
Avni founded in August 2020 in Thane, Maharashtra
What does success mean to your company?
Impacting lives of women by generating livelihood and offering good products that heal.
How are you performing currently?
Avni has already reached over 10,000 customers in a short span of time. It has raised funds, and further expanded its product line. Apart from offering cloth-based pads, it is also creating other menstrual care products out of natural materials.
What is the biggest risk to your company?
Not innovating as much as we should keep up pace with the constantly changing trends
What are your plans for the funding?
We recently raised funds, and we will raise more funds once we have crossed the milestone we have set for ourselves. At the moment, we are focused on business growth and innovation.
|Co-founders||Sujata and Apurv|
|Year of establishment||August 2020|
|Funding status||INR 65 lacs in seed round|
|Investor||We Founder Circle|
What is the biggest challenge you faced during your start-up setup?
The mindset and lack of awareness are the biggest obstacles for an entrepreneur in the menstrual hygiene space. The idea is to help society first unlearn the wrong information and then learn the right and logical concepts. A lot of people believe that cloth-based pads are unhealthy or dangerous. This is a demon well-fed by commercial companies. While on the contrary, Indian traditional menstrual practices were the best, including cloth-based pads which are organic and soft for the skin. What instead was required was to teach the best way to use those cloth-based pads so that they were clean and well-managed.
What does growth mean to you and your business?
For us, growth is able to generate employment for more number of women. As our sales grow, we will need more women to manufacture the products.
How does your product stand different from others in the market?
In the industry, most sanitary pads are manufactured using chemicals. Even the ones that claim to be chemical-free may not actually be 100 percent organic. Avni provides safe menstrual hygiene products that are skin-friendly, environment friendly and chemical-free. While adopting these products is healthy for women, it serves a greater purpose for those who have sensitive skin.
Where are your start-up services spread?
We deliver Pan India across more than 29000 pin codes.
What does it feel like to be the founder of your start-up? How does it feel to get up every morning and getting on to work?
The excitement to bring a change in the lives of women through our products, through the job opportunities that we are able to create drives us every day. It is a big responsibility but we cherish it.
Where do you see your business standing in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, we want Avni to be the go-to brand of all the menstruators. We aim to build trust and loyalty by detoxifying periods of over 1 crore menstruators across the world.
Who supports you to stand this business and how?
Our investors, and our experience so far, together with help us build the brand. We understand that the right mentorship plays a significant role in taking the right direction.
The business model of the company?
We are selling primarily online through our website, and e-com marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Qtrove, Smytten, Woovly and other similar platforms. We are able to cater to customers across more than 29000 pin codes.
How many employees are working?
We have currently 8 employees working across our sales, marketing, finance and operations teams. We also have around 25 women working for us in the manufacturing unit.