“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” says Margaret Heffernan.
Ms. Pooja Kaul has experienced interactions, conflicts, arguments, debates and what not to bring an innovative idea in the market. It is not just hard work which brings you to such a place you need a lot of determination, positive thinking, self-motivation and luck.
Inventiva is in conversation with the founder of Organiko Beautifying Life, a social-innovation which is manufacturing and selling skin care products made of donkey milk. Yes You Heard It Right Donkey Milk!
Donkey Milk products is not a very explored field in India as people here are superstitious and are unknown to the benefits of Donkey Milk. It is a proved remedy for all age groups and skin types as it has high levels of proteins, phospholipids and ceramides which helps to regenerate skin. Organiko is a first mover in this industry as they see the potential and miracles that donkey milk beholds.
Pooja says that “donkey owners do not know what treasure they are reaping, we are just doing our share to make their lives better and easier”.
Constantly working on the philosophy of Ginni Rometty “The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company”, Pooja is striving each day along with her co-founder Rishabh and her team to make Organiko a big name in organic skin care product.
Pooja Told Inventiva That Since Her Young Age, She Always Believed In Generating The Employment & Not Consume One & Thus Left Her Secure Government Job To Pursue Her Venture & Set The Examples For Millions In Our Country Who Are Always Looking After For Job. She Says One Should Work Hard To Fulfill Their Own Dreams & Not Make Others Rich
Inventiva is the first platform to cover the exclusive interview of Miss. Pooja Kaul, We want to take our readers through her roller coaster journey via this exclusive interview Of Miss Pooja Kaul, Let Us Go through it.
1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
The name of our venture is ‘Organiko Beautifying Life’ as it has the sole motive to beautify the life of the people with whom we are working and our customers at the same time.
2. Who is your target Audience/clients?
We are a company offering very organic and natural products which are high in quality so our target market is equally special. We target a very niche clientele of working women in the age group of 20-55 years and the clients who are very conscious about using organic and naturally made products.
3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
We are currently based in Delhi but as we sell our products online through our website our reach is not restricted to the city in which we are based. Moreover, we have recently established our distribution channels in Chandigarh and Andhra Pradesh, with plans of expanding very soon.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Our venture is completely a social innovation venture as it solves many social issues:-
• It generates a fixed income of Rs 2000/litre of milk for donkey owners who were earning just about Rs. 200-300 per day.
• By the generation of this fixed income, they are able to give a decent living to their families and encourage their children to get educated and empower them.
• We are also making sure that donkeys are not treated badly the way they were being treated earlier and get proper nutrition. This is being achieved automatically also as for the owners, donkeys are assets now.
• Increasing the life expectancy of donkeys back to 25-30 years instead of 6-8 years.
• Also, we derive milk from each donkey on every alternative day and have fixed the mark of 200ml/ donkey only to ensure proper nutrition for young donkey babies.
• Providing economical skin care products to our customers.
Basically, we aim at growing this company in a manner where everybody who is associated with us derives something good out of it which is socially beneficial. This way every association we make becomes an asset for us.
Currently, we have 2 products in the market namely:
• Donkey Milk Natural Ingredient Soap: It is a gentle soap which purifies and smoothens your skin. It is good for all skin types and protects skin from pollutants and toxins. It contains Chandan, Papaya leaf powder, Aloe vera, Neem, Orange powder with the essence of glycerine, Aroma oils and pure Donkey milk.
• Donkey milk Charcoal and Honey Soap: This soap specialises in treating acne, removing blackheads, dead skin, cleansing having anti-bacterial properties. It will give your skin a radiant glow. It contains Donkey milk, Chandan, Honey, Aloe vera, Papaya leaf, Glycerine, Neem and Orange powder.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
I was doing my masters in social innovation and entrepreneurship from Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) in 2016 that’s where we have to do a pilot project on an innovative business idea on testing. I always wanted to do something new in the dairy sector so, me along with my batch mate Rishabh thought of starting to do something with donkey milk. After a lot of research, we came to the conclusion that direct consumption of donkey milk is not what is quite acceptable in our society despite the benefits it has. So here is when we realized that if not direct milk we can reach out to millions through a product which consists of the qualities of donkey milk. So we experimented and achieved the desired formula for a soap,we tested a pilot with our product in Octorber 2017. And finally in September 2018 we launched commercially in Market.
But once college finished it became tough to keep this idea going as I came back to Delhi leaving our project in Maharashtra, finding a team again in Delhi was a challenge. Then I started brainstorming again on how I can recreate the project in Delhi and after some time, I found some donkey owners in Dasna and after a lot of time and effort, I was able to convince them to work with me. Finally, I am here speaking so proudly of my project with you today.
6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Using donkey milk along with other natural ingredients to produce organic soaps is a very unique and innovative idea as it is a very less explored field. So right now we do not have any big competitors. So I would say our biggest competitor is we ourselves. We need to improve and get better than what we are on each stage to become a well-known brand in natural skin care products.
7. How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
My co-founder is Rishabh Yash Tomar who is my classmate from TISS. He has been with me from the start where we thought of this idea, experimented to find the apt soap formula and now when we have started functioning as a full-fledged producer and marketer for donkey milk soaps. He has done his bachelors from DU and masters with me in TISS. Rishabh always been very supportive. He has a brilliant mind and a very practical approach to situations.
8. How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?
Hiring was the toughest part because we are a start-up which is mostly bootstrapped and that also a social organization. We hardly had any funds and of course, the business is generally slow initially. Moreover, it is an innovative idea so the acceptance comes gradually in the market. But things started working out on its own and like-minded people who believed in my idea as much as I do start associating with us at low to negligible salaries just with a hope that things will turn in our favour soon.
Rahul Sagar, he was my friend from college and first person to join our team. I remember we were discussing about my startup. He liked the idea and voluntarily asked to work on our website. We are a team of 6 members now, everybody is a young graduate, have a lot of energy and passion to do something of their own.
9. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
• I want Organiko Beautifying Life to be a well-known brand selling a wide range of donkey milk skin care products.
• We want to expand our distribution channels in other states too to achieve product visibility in the entire country.
• We want to export our products in the entire world.
10. Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
I think it is too early to plan for the next 10 years. Our brand is just starting to bloom and we have to transform at every moment to become successful. So we are focusing on the present and near future.
11. What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
We have our short- term goals absolutely ready and the work is already going on in this direction:
• We are launching 5 more products this year in the category of soaps, face wash, face cream etc. made of donkey milk.
• We have been selling solely through our website but know we are getting them listed on e-commerce websites to reach more and more people.
• We are also going to get our products displayed on organic stores in Hyderabad and Jaipur
• We are actively putting stalls in every organic-related festivals
• We are already exploring the export opportunity for Australia and planning to get our export license as soon as possible.
12. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Organiko is a mostly bootstrapped start-up. But yes we have won a few competitions in our journey which has helped us raise funds through prices and indirect grants. Moreover, we also raised some funds through the sales of the stalls we have been putting in various festivals all along. But of course, we want to expand in future so we would be looking to raising funds or loans from the market.
13. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
I have faced a complete share of my problems in starting this project full-time:
• Taking the chance to leave a job to start working on the project full-time was a big challenge.
• Finding donkey owners who are open-minded to the idea of taking out donkey milk so that we can use it to produce the soaps i.e. called mobilizing community.
• Convincing owners to not exploit their donkeys and to give only the amount of milk we are asking them to give.
• Convincing them to take good care of their donkeys and treat them as assets and not as liabilities
• Acceptance of the product in the market
• Financing the project without any outside support and many more.
At each stage there were challenges but my determination to find a solution helped me resolve them.
14. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
I think the most challenging part of the journey was to build a team and that also on the basis of trust, not on monetary benefits. As I told you earlier, we are self-funded start-up so we do not earn a lot to give away as competitive salaries. Moreover, we needed an all-rounder team who can manage finance, marketing etc. all by themselves. So, the team we built was purely on trust in the start-up and the hope that we will make big someday.
15. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love to write poems, lyrics and stories. They give me an insight into the world and help me express my deepest desires and issues through them. I also like to read books of various genres.
16. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
I do not have any big name as my idol. My idol is my family especially my elder brother Uday Kaul who raised me after our father left for the heavenly abode.
My biggest motivator has been Dr Neelam Yadav, my mentor, philosopher, supporter and believer. She is an assistant professor in TISS and believed in me and my idea right from the start and encouraged me in dark times. I absolutely owe my success to her.
17. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
An entrepreneur is the one who leaves everything to take a chance. They have the guts to put everything on a stake to pursue their dreams while the ones who work for others are equally capable but do not have the drive to take a chance.
18. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I believe that what I am doing is what my purpose of life is.
19. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
I read an article which described that entrepreneurship takes away your social life and that’s what exactly happened with me too. The reason behind this is the initial struggling period when no one is around you and then once you gain success everybody starts coming back and wants to reconnect with you. Yes my work has also been really demanding and it has affected my social life but not too much as I am introvert as it as and have very few confidants.
But my family is intact and strong as they have always been supportive and are still encouraging me each day to go places. So there has been no effect on my family life because of the entrepreneurship as a family never changes.
20. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
I just want to say “Take the chance because everybody gets a chance to choose something their heart tells them to choose. This will bring you the satisfaction nothing else will. I know it is convenient to choose the easy way when there is no support. But that’s not what you need all you need is to believe the person you see every day in the mirror and a decision to take the chance”.
21. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I have done my bachelors in Political Science and History from Delhi University. Then I did a Diploma in refugee and human rights law and in 2016 in joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences for Masters in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Coming to my family, everybody belongs to the media field, my father, brother and sister all of them. Inspired from all of them I also wanted to become a travel writer but with time I understood neither media nor social work is my cup of tea. I understood over the period of time that I love field work and that I am made for entrepreneurship, not for jobs. Today my entire family supports me because I dared to dream.
22. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other startups in similar domains.
I think our idea of Organiko has proved to be our USP. Our country has an abundance of resources which are untapped because people do not trust their instincts to invest in something new. Our idea of using donkey milk to make beauty products using all natural ingredients and absolutely handmade made us different from the rest of the start-ups. We basically introduced everybody to the beauty secret of Queen Cleopatra of using donkey milk for anti-ageing properties.
23. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
I think the biggest threat faced by start-ups today is lack of correct mentorship and guidance. It is very difficult for entrepreneurs to find the right amount of guidance on how to start, how to market, how to scale up etc. We have been lucky to find a platform like TISS where we started our project. But generally entrepreneurs don’t get such platforms and those brilliant ideas just rot in the pipelines and never really come to the market.
24. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I don’t think I am successful or famous until now. There is a lot I need to achieve before I call myself successful. We have backed a lot of awards in a year of time and have got our due share of recognition for the noble work and innovative products we are launching, but I feel the real success would be when the entire world uses Organiko and contributes to the cause of donkeys and its owners.
I also feel that I am on the right path because all you have to do to be successful is to begin.
25. Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person