2 years ago
“I never understood his irrational passion,” continues Singh. “I’d argue with him about how crazy it had been to dream about 600 when he was discovering 15 a year.” But last January, after over 30 years of toiling, he hit his target. “I asked him how it felt about accomplishing his goal. Would he take a back seat? Finally retire? No. Instead, he said he still has it in him to try and do more discoveries and is as excited about it as he was on Day 1.”
“I now get him… because I feel the identical way about Sugar,” she says. From generating a bit under ₹2 crore in sales within the early years to now generating ₹2 crore in sales daily, the digital-first cosmetics brand has come an extended way. Singh recalls how it took her and her co-founder husband Kaushik Mukherjee almost five years to travel from seed to Series A round in funding. The interim was hard, she says, with the couple breaking their last ₹30 lakh fixed deposit to sputter along within the tough market. Mukherjee even considered seizing employment while Singh would run the show. Then, in 2017, India Quotient, an early backer, and Singapore-based RB Investments extended a lifeline to Sugar in an undisclosed Series A financing.
Sugar is Singh’s third startup. After graduating from IIT-Madras and IIM-Ahmedabad, she ditched a “₹1 crore” job offer from a number one investment bank to dive into entrepreneurship. “I wanted to try and do something fast and fun, quickly rescale my business and IPO it,” she says. But Quetzal, a background verification service for recruiters, which Singh founded in 2007, was a “spectacular failure”. The business was commoditised so fought on price instead of value. “Such businesses just don’t add India because there'll always be someone who can make love cheaper than you,” explains Singh.
Besides she was obsessed with building a consumer business for ladies. it absolutely was 2012, ecommerce in India was firing up and girls increasingly had access to income. Singh thought it apt to begin Fab Bag, a subscription business that offered women an assortment of beauty products each month for atiny low fee. She ran the business for nine years by which period it had amassed 200,000 customers. This close-knit community of girls shared their preferences, skin problems and dislikes with Singh. As she gleaned through the information, she realised the makeup brands that were available—foreign or local—didn’t cater to Indian skin tones or the Indian way of life. “Makeup had to be long-lasting and matt in order that whether or not a customer travels by conveyance on local trains or polluted roads, her makeup won’t come off,” she says.
Armed with these insights, Singh started Sugar in 2015. Customer education was at the center of the business. “Education may be a critical step before commerce happens during a category like beauty. Women must know the way to use a winged eyeliner before they buy one,” she says. The team used YouTube, Instagram and Sugar’s own app to achieve dead set customers. Unlike most digital-first brands, Sugar was early to develop an omnichannel presence. “Early on, we decided we might be present where our customers shop, whether that’s an area shop, Shoppers Stop or Nykaa. we might make it easy for them,” she says.
Today, Sugar encompasses a physical presence across 2,500-plus outlets in over 130 cities across India. It hit ₹105 crore in revenue in FY20 and raised $21 million in venture funding led by Elevation Capital, valuing the startup at ₹750 crore.
“Vineeta is incredibly energetic, loves multitasking, and is detail-oriented. within the last three years of hectic growth at Sugar, she has been the inspiration within the team for ambition and high performance,” says Madhukar Sinha, founding partner, India Quotient.
Despite the heady success, Singh, an ultra-marathoner and triathlete whose achievements include completing the gruelling 89-kilometre Comrades run in African nation three years during a row, says she’s only getting started. “We’re going after the ₹10,000 crore beauty market in India.”
She quips, “All i would like to try and do is keep building. I realise now how similar i'm to my father. Irrational passion must be genetic.”
Doctor at Mumbai
2 years ago