How The Ayurveda Co is bringing high quality, affordable ayurvedic solutions to the masses

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How The Ayurveda Co is bringing high quality, affordable ayurvedic solutions to the masses
02-Jan-24 05:04:43

A taxing childhood, a punishing adolescence and an exacting adulthood... Shreedha Singh spent most of her life fighting extreme odds. Now, the doughty founder is disrupting the health, beauty and personal care space with her ayurvedic venture TAC

The commerce grad from Punjabi University was foraging for backers. It was early 2021. It was a year when venture capitalists were cutting cheques at the drop of a hat, and all kinds of business ideas—from rank frivolous to amazingly unique to potentially disruptive—were getting generously and lavishly funded. Shreedha Singh’s The Ayurveda Co (TAC) —a beauty, personal care and wellness venture—had all the traits to make it to the third bucket of ‘disruptors’. And the first-time founder too was confident of striking it big with her contrarian play.

And why not? So far in India, most of the ventures in the ayurveda, herbal and natural segment had straddled the extremes—either too cheap and highly suspect in quality or prohibitively expensive and cramped in appeal. The ayurveda beauty and wellness upstart, though, identified a huge market opportunity—high-quality offerings, affordable price points and a mass play—with its differentiated strategy. TAC, Singh reasoned, had the right kinds of ingredients to woo investors.

Well, when the founder hit the funding market, the right kind of ingredients didn’t mean much to the wrong kind of investors. Most of the potential backers looked for the right pedigree. Singh, unfortunately, lacked any Ivy College tag. The first-generation entrepreneur completed her MBA in human resources (HR) from Panjab University, and if one went back to her formative years of education, Singh had her tryst with English when she was in Class 7! Born in Ghazipur, which is three hours from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Singh spent the first few years at Karanda village, and then hopped multiple places because of the mobile nature of her father’s job in the army.

Adapting to diverse circumstances, confronting peers who would constantly mock her rustic background and bully her in schools, and coping with a hostile home-front where her mother was always on tenterhooks because of an abusive marriage… Singh had a feisty upbringing. It became clear to the young woman that the only way to change her destiny was through relentless hustle. “I was determined to script my own story,” she says.

Meanwhile, back in the pitching room, the founder from the cow belt was battling with herd mentality. There were no takers for her story. A bunch of investors were eager to listen to the stories of founders who came from consulting backgrounds. Singh, again, failed on that front. She had a stint of close to four-and-a-half years in HR at VE Commercial Vehicles, a joint venture between Volvo and Eicher Motors, and a non-profit organisation. She also spent two years at Bombardier. “Nobody listened to my story. Nobody gave me a chance,” recalls Singh who couldn’t raise funding for the first few months. “I was waging a lone battle,” adds the founder.

Back in Nashik, Maharashtra, the 14-year-old girl was waging a war to make her family survive. Her mother along with Singh’s younger brothers were thrown out of the house by her father. Survival was at stake, and the teenager decided to hunt for a job. She finally got a part-time job as a trainee at a multinational burger chain. Singh had to wait tables, mop floors and work at the billing counter for a daily wage of Rs 26! One-and- a-half months into the job, the family was barely managing to survive, and Singh was settling into her new role.

Then one fine day, destiny played a cruel joke. One of her school friends spotted her at the burger outlet, and the young girl felt humiliated. “It was embarrassing because everybody in school knew of my army background,” recounts Singh. Feeling disgraced, she quit, and after a few days managed to get a part-time receptionist job for Rs 4,000. The daily routine was gruelling: School in the morning, job in the afternoon, and homework at night. The ritual continued during college, during the early years of professional life, and finally in 2015, she pulled her mother out of 28 years of troubled marriage. “The joy of freedom on her face made me forget years of toil,” she says.