In Conversation with Tarun Sharma, co-founder, MCaffeine
It’s a made-in-India brand that aims to go global. It’s a personal care product which is infused with an all- coffee which to make you glow. And it’s a brand which comes with a strong message of accepting yourself as you are.
We are MCaffeine, a company that sells care and skincare products which are infused with which is carving its own niche space. This is no mean in India’s $49 billion FMCG space, half of which accounts for the personal care .about
MCaffeine, founded by Tarun Sharma and Vikas Lachhwani, has raised $300k from ace investors including Kaushal Agarwal, MD of Avendus Capital, Harminder Sahani, MD of Wazir Advisors, KK Mehra, Ex-CTO of, Pranay Jivrajka, COO at Ola Cabs and Amit Raj & Anshul Gupta, co-founders at Box8.
So what makes this brand an investor’s bet and a changemaker? We caught up with 28-year-old Tarun Sharma, founder, and CEO of MCaffeine to find out.
OF: What inspired you to set up MCaffeine?
TS: Both, Vikas and I, had a hair loss, and so on. Today, a single individual can have multiple all at once. We found that nobody is really catering to the needs of such a person. Twenty years earlier, we all watched top Bollywood stars endorsing a brand and we bought it. But now, it’s not only about buying products which are endorsed by celebrities.about the FMCG space. We realized commercial products in the personal care space was seen through a lens which was very in . It was more about anti- , anti-
It’s about making decisions based on my choice and my personality. You could be Superman, I could be Batman. Our choices would be very different and we both need to be catered to.
That’s when Vikas and I understood that we had to look at the personal care space through a different lens.
OF: And that’s when MCaffeine happened?
TS: Yes, by chance. I met with an accident and had aeye. In India, everybody is a ( ).
Somebody suggested that I put a brewed but lukewarm green tea bag on my eyes to reduce the puffiness. To my surprise, the puffiness actually went away. I did a bit of research and found out that the caffeine in the green tea had an amazing effect on my swollen eye.
We baldness and hair loss. We knew we had hit something big with caffeine.why not start doing R&D on caffeine to find out its benefits for personal care. And what we found was amazing – caffeine is truly a for hair care. It into hair and makes the hair strong and lustrous. Also, most experience hair loss due to a called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which hair follicles. But when our hair is treated with caffeine, it stimulates the follicles. This can help prevent
OF: So is it all just about the caffeine?
OF: The FMCG space in India is filled with big. Did you not have when you took the plunge to become an entrepreneur?
TS: Everybody said you need to have deepto be in the FMCG space, have 10 crore rupees. But in the era of and 4G, launching a brand has been easy. Carving out innovations and disrupting the way things are done in this are the two important things which give us (small players) a right to exist along with the big boys of FMCG. We are riding the internet wave and using data as a core tool for -making. Right now, we are present on approximately 34 online channels in India and we plan to sell internationally too.
My personal motto is that you need to be excited and scared at the same time when you want tosomething. I believe that keeps you on your toes and fear helps you to keep moving forward.
OF: What kind of audience are youout to, through the internet?
TS: Our target audience isbetween 20 to 30 years of age, who are achievers, who a lot and are active in all areas of life.
You have to selectively choose your audience. We decided to focus on selling one product to the customer, instead of trying to sell them all our products. Our focus is more on mapping the customers who have a higher intent of buying differentiating products.
OF: What kind of customerdo you get and how does it help you?
TS: Whatfor us is we decided to stay freakishly close to the customers. Each and every customer who calls on our helpline talks to the founder directly. I remember when customers called to say that we needed to launch a . That’s when we realized we needed to offer more than gels. Or the time when we two but no . Customers called we love your shampoo but we always buy a shampoo and conditioner together.
Almost 70% of our work is done because our customers tell us what they want next – it is what drives our product line.
One of our success stories is our Neem Caffeine Facewash. We stocked 10x the product anticipating customer response. But we were because the demand was way more than that. Word-of- is what drives a majority of our .
OF: What is the MCaffeine team like?
TS: We are ateam of 6 people who like we are a 12-member team! I believe that you have to have, what I call, “hopeless optimism” for the brand and an achiever’s . It’s stored in the of the MCaffeine team.
OF: Was it tough to pitch aproduct based on a unique ingredient to investors?
TS: We were very clear that we wanted investors who wanted to be with us for a longer term of 20 years; not just 5-6 years. And we are lucky that our current investors are in for the long haul and have guided us to build a global brand.
Our pitch was simple – we wanted to build an iconic brand in India which could travel all over the world.
OF: As a changemaker, how does your business attempt to change the?
TS: There is a lot of insecurity that is being promoted in the personal care world. We have promisednot to ride on this . We will never promote insecurities and will never make fairness . We want people to choose over color.
In a world which is Burn the shade card” where we are the people to be comfortable in their own skin and choose confidence over color. We aim to educate 25 million people in the next one year.fairness creams and -whitening products, we want to promote confidence in . Our campaign is “