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Redefining Personal Care With Bombay Shaving

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Shantanu Deshpande, 

Founder and CEO, Bombay Shaving Company
age: 35
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Want a hipster beard like Virat Kohli, or do you prefer a clean shaven look? Bombay Shaving Company wants to ensure consumers achieve all their hair goals. Started by IIM-Lucknow graduate and external adviser, Mckinsey and Co, Shantanu Deshpande, the six-year-old grooming company offers a range of 60 hair and skin products that it sells online and in over 50,000 stores nationally. “We started in 2016 as a men’s shaving company with a premium product experience for those who had gotten bored of shaving with the usual products,” says Deshpande.
The rise of challenger brands, investments by companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, Facebook, and Google in media products, and access to global trends have helped Bombay Shaving Company, says Deshpande. But there have been challenges as well, he adds. “Distribution and marketing were the two big barriers to start an FMCG business before 2010.” Also, when the company started, D2C business and e-commerce were not as popular as they are today. “Raising capital in large amounts and achieving the right kind of valuation was hard,” he adds. “We also faced challenges in understanding how FMCG works online. It is a price-sensitive industry and how it works online is very different compared to offline.”
An important learning that helped Bombay Shaving, says Deshpande, was diversification — not relying solely on millennial consumers. The company does not classify consumers based on age, or, rural and urban “A 21-year-old college kid and a 40-year-old executive in an office, who want to shave, want the same experience. They both want good quality, the same fragrance, similar richness, luxury,” he adds. Covid helped, too, as more and more consumers moved online. Salons and beauty parlours were shut, and people needed grooming products since “above-the-keyboard” dressing meant your hair still needed to look nice.
Another wise move was to rope in competitors Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive as strategic investors. It allowed Bombay Shaving Company to leverage their distribution channels.
The company has now forayed into other grooming products, including trimmers, skincare, and women’s shaving products. The women’s segment contributes 20% to its total revenue currently, aginst 80% for men.
The company, which has an annual recurring revenue (ARR) of ₹180-190 crore, expects to be profitable within the next two quarters. With a 50-50 split between online and offline sales, it is looking to reach 200,000 stores by the year-end. Deshpande wants to build a ₹25-crore-a-month business by the end of the year — 30% for women and 70% for men. As of now, it owns around 25-28% of the men’s shaving segment online, but offline is less than 1%. It has raised $50.5 million till date, according to Tracxn.