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Sirona Hygiene Mulls Inorganic Growth Through Acquisitions To Touch Rs 150 Crore Revenue This Fiscal

In February 2022, the feminine wellness startup acquired pepper spray maker Impower and acquired Bleü condom brand in May 2023. Since infertility solutions are missing from Sirona’s product pipeline, it is open to acquiring a brand if a viable opportunity presents itself

Sirona Hygiene Mulls Inorganic Growth Through Acquisitions To Touch Rs 150 Crore Revenue This Fiscal
Deep Bajaj, co-founder, Sirona Hygiene
POSTED ON February 22, 2024 6:12 PM

Most movies in Indian theatres begin with an advertisement where actor Akshay Kumar, playing the role of a villager, exhorts his fellow resident to swap an unhealthy cigarette for a pack of sanitary napkins. He points out how using these napkins, available for approximately the same cost as the cancer stick, could save his wife from menstrual-related health issues. 

It is quite telling that even in contemporary times, Indians need a celebrity of Kumar’s stature to be educated about the importance of feminine hygiene and how it can lead to several health issues, which in turn could have an economic impact. And yet, there is lots of societal stigma attached to this subject and women’s wellbeing is often overlooked. 

Having encountered this prejudice personally even before he co-founded Sirona Hygiene in 2014, Deep Bajaj finds it ironic that conversations on this topic rarely take place despite half the country’s population going through menstruation every month. He is also appalled that many women, especially in rural areas, still use medieval methods during this period. 

His efforts to break the taboo surrounding this subject were borne from personal experiences, which often bordered on tragedies. Running an event management agency that organised outdoor events like concerts and fashion shows, he noticed that women had a tough time answering nature’s call as the portable toilets at the venues could not handle excessive crowds and became messy and unsanitary. Later, when his wife suffered a miscarriage due to a urinary tract infection, the enormity of this issue hit home. 

While on a road trip in 2013, he noticed how his wife and female friends hardly drank water for fear of having to use a filthy roadside restroom. One lady from the group wished they had access to a contraption that she had seen while in Europe that allowed women to urinate while standing up. This got Bajaj thinking, why was such a device not available in India?

It took Deep and his co-founder, Mohit Bajaj, over a year to design Sirona’s patent product, Pee Buddy, and get a design patent for it. Incidentally, the first customers for this portable stand-and-pee device were Deep’s mother and his then-pregnant wife. In fact, he claimed that his spouse was the one who gave his aha! brainwaves for the initial products that Sirona designed. 

“My wife suffered from painful menstruation cycles, and she would either use painkillers or hot water bottles to manage this discomfort. However, painkillers have side effects, and one can’t use hot water bottles while travelling or at work. Sirona came up with India's first herbal period pain relief skin patch so that women like her could travel and sleep better,” he explained. 

The third product from the company was bio-degradable disposal bags for women to dispose of their sanitary pads discreetly while travelling. The launch of these three products helped the company map a pattern of product requirements from puberty to menopause. 

Soon, it added products like disposable toilet seat covers, and toilet sprays to a range of sanitary pads—from reusable, biodegradable, natural to rash-free, reusable menstrual cups and tampons with or without applicators depending on the body type, period stain removers, intimate wash and anti-chafing rash creams. Today, Sirona claims to have 2 million customers for its tampons and about 75,000 for its menstrual cups.

Identifying neglected areas of feminine hygiene was a novel concept and a huge gamble when Deep and Mohit Bajaj co-founded Sirona in 2014. Like many of the other founders in the space, their journey too has been marked by personal experiences, which encouraged them to come up with new products. “We tried to bring women-oriented solutions in our bootstrapped days and then raised some money and grew profitably when few understood profitability in the ecosystem,” Deep boasted, while talking about how the company today has close to 100 products in its portfolio. 

From Personal Experiences To Tapping A $4 Billion Market

Over the years, though, the nascent femtech sector has caught the attention of many startup founders and investors, propelled by a combination of increased awareness and demand for women's healthcare solutions, which was met with technological advancements. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FICCI) estimates that the Indian femtech market could touch expected $4 billion by 2024. 

However, there are still very few startups in this growing space, with limited innovation despite the tremendous potential it holds for disruption in products and perception. According to various reports, funding in this space is very muted with a total of 40 funding deals amounting $98 million between 2015 to 2021. 

Most of them are directed towards brands focused on grooming and predictive wellness solutions. Maria Mascaraque, Head of Food and Nutrition at Euromonitor International, said the growing focus on women's health driven by personalised care and self-care trends offered significant business opportunities. “Breaking taboos around topics such as menstrual care and menopausal health is boosting consumer demand,” she added in a press note. 

Sirona vending machines
Sirona Hygiene has set up vending machines strategically at various airports and railway stations across India

Sirona itself raised $3 million in a Series A funding round in April 2021 co-led by NB Ventures and IAN Fund, in a year when the company clocked Rs 50 crore of revenue run rate. 

However, eyeing the potential in this space, in December 2021, The Good Glamm Group, which owns the MyGlamm brand of beauty and personal care products, acquired an undisclosed majority stake in Sirona in an all-cash deal worth Rs 100 crore. This acquisition has helped the women’s wellness start-up strengthen its D2C presence, quadrupling sales from its own website and reducing its dependence on other platforms.

“We ship about seven lakh orders every month and want to cross Rs 150 crore in revenues this fiscal, up from Rs 77 last year, and breach the Rs 500 crore mark in another three years,” Deep stated.  

His confidence about doubling the revenues this year stems from the growing awareness about feminine hygiene and wellness and Sirona’s early-mover advantage in the space. Its omnichannel presence, ranging from its website and that of leading e-commerce platforms as well as modern retail and medical outlets will also help it reach this milestone. 

The company has attempted to seed awareness about its products using a social media strategy that focuses on edutainment. This means it has to tread the fine balance of publicizing its product while prudently being mindful of not stepping on too many toes with ads that have punch lines like ‘Down with Pads to Done With Pads’, or how menstrual cups are ‘In Our Culture’. The company has purposely steered away from paid campaigns and influencers and instead works with its panel of doctors to create content around women’s menstrual or sexual health on its social media platforms.  

Expanding Into Preventive Care Through Acquisitions 

Considering that their products are less of an impulsive purchase and more of an informed buying decision, most of their business comes from online channels. This could also be because women prefer the anonymity that online platforms offer over asking for feminine hygiene products at a crowded pharmacy. 

Sirona also expanded its business overseas with a presence in the Middle East, which has a large Indian diaspora and since the country shares similar cultural sensibilities as India. While international sales currently contribute just 5% to the overall revenues, Deep is eager to amp this up. Hence, this year, the company will concentrate its energies on entrenching its presence throughout the EMEA and the US. 

While Sirona has mapped the solutions journey from puberty to menopause, it has also realised there is scope for preventive care, infertility and even postpartum care. “For the next couple of years, our focus will be on toilets and menopause and then everything in between. This is because menopause is a big area where we do not have any presence,” Deep explained. 

Sirona Hygiene Foundation
Sirona Hygiene Foundation attempts to remove the stigma around menstruation for women in rural parts of the country

While infertility solutions are not part of the company’s product pipeline, Sirona is open to acquiring a brand if a viable opportunity presents itself. In February 2022, Sirona acquired pepper spray maker Impower, which marked its entry into the women's safety space. 

Last May, it acquired Bleü, a vegan condom brand in an all-cash deal, marking its foray into the sexual wellness category. Sirona plans to grow the brand’s business by 10x on the marketplace and D2C by March 2025, making it Bleu a Rs 100 crore brand by 2025, that contributes 15-20% of the company’s overall sales.

Deep revealed that Sirona will continue adding to its product portfolio by going deeper into existing categories. For better brand recall and reach, it will take its dominant product categories offline, where visibility is higher. It is also opening vending machines across various places pan-India, including airports and railway stations, to increase accessibility for feminine hygiene products. 

The company has also set up the Sirona Hygiene Foundation to address intimate and menstrual hygiene issues and remove the stigma around menstruation for women in rural parts of the country. “We want to create an enabling environment that delivers on our fervent promise to offer gender equality and freedom from period poverty to ladies across the country. And we intend to do this through policy, advocacy and support for sustainable menstruation,” Deep emphasises.

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