Vikas Bagaria and his wife conceived the idea of a toilet seat sanitizer when they were travelling to Gujarat in late 2013. Bagariaâ€™s wife fell ill and they had to cut the trip short. They realised that what was ailing her was a urinary tract infection and this despite staying at the best of hotels and using washrooms only in good restaurants.
â€śWe realised from that experience that be it a 5-star hotel or a top restaurant, the toilets in these places might look clean but they may not be sanitised. This was when the idea for the brand was born and my wife suggested the name PeeSafe,â€ť said Bagaria, Founder, PeeSafe.
Today, PeeSafe has already raised $1 million from a group of investors, including Mumbai-basedÂ Venture Catalyst, Alfa Capital,Â Green Shots Capital, andÂ Real Time Ventures and intends to be a Rs 500-crore brand in the next two years.
â€śOur immediate goal is to be a Rs 500-crore brand in the next two years and then double that growth and be a Rs 1000-crore brand in the coming three to four years,â€ť said Bagaria.
Female hygiene and intimate care is one of the fastest growing categories in the country. According to Euromonitor, the size of the female hygiene market in the country in 2017 was $340 million, excluding sanitary napkins. The category is expected to grow to $600 million by 2020.
â€śThe female hygiene and intimate care category was divided into sanitary napkins and vaginal washes. We came in with our product and created a market for toilet seat sanitizers. We were the first movers in the category,â€ť said Bagaria.
The female hygiene and intimate care category is a $25 billion business globally but in India the category has a huge headroom to grow, considering the fact that sanitary napkins in the country have only 14 per cent penetration and toilet seat sanitizers as a category is still at a nascent stage.
The brand has shipped consignments to countries like Nigeria, Singapore and Kenya. In a bid to expand its global footprint, the brand has also signed a $20-million deal with 360 Nautica, a Doha-based company. According to the contract, for the next five years, the company will be supplying their product, worth $20 million, to GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The brand is awaiting certification from Canada and Australia. They are also looking to manufacture in the US, which according to Bagaria should happen in the next two to three months.
While PeeSafe was the only player in the category for the first few years of its existence, Bagaria agrees that now there are a few small local players. Although there are a few other products tackling the problem like PeeBuddy and GoodFeel, they directly do not fall under female hygiene and intimate care category.
Bagaria believes they pose no threat to PeeSafe, especially because of the brandâ€™s marketing and advertising bandwidth. The brand that raised $1 million in June this year has earmarked 50 per cent of the sum for marketing.
â€śThis is a very marketing heavy business. We consider ourselves to be a part of the FMCG category in India and if you look at the players in the category like ITC or P&G, they advertise on a very large scale,â€ť said Bagaria.
Two of their big marketing initiatives are Pee Room Conversations and the PeeSafe Sanitised Washroom Programme. Pee Room Conversations is a digital initiative where the top digital influencers come together and talk about the issues that women face when it comes to public washrooms.
Under the PeeSafe sanitised washroom programme, the brand is encouraging restaurants, hotels, hospitals, offices, co-living spaces and co-working spaces to make restrooms, either private or public, more women friendly and provide a hygienically safe experience with the use of PeeSafe. The brand was also the hygiene partner for the movie Toilet â€“ Ek Prem Katha.
According to Bagaria, 20 per cent of their marketing exercise is online and 80 per cent is offline, which is BTL heavy.
The brand today is available at over 5,000 outlets across 16 states in the country and 70 per cent of their sales come from offline channels.
â€śWe are present in all the big metros, we also have a presence in tier II cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh and Guwahati,â€ť said Bagaria.
The brand is also present in tier III cities, which are more popular among tourists, like Pushkar, Haridwar and Srinagar.