How Seth family went from making soap bars to creating a D2C cosmetic brand "neemli Naturals"

Handmade | Vegan | Cruelty free I PETA certified| Non Toxic | 100% Natural

YC - What is your background? What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

Bhaskara - I have been in the industry for almost six years now, before this, I have worked in television, ad production, and also the wedding industry. The idea of getting into this line was almost by chance, in the beginning, we used to make soap bars at our farm and sell them at flea markets. The idea was that we didn’t want to take any shortcuts while making our products and that something that’s still stuck with us now. Our soap bars still take 30 days to make, our serum formulations are considered impractical in terms of manufacturers as far as quality standards are concerned. The idea with buying a neemli product is that you are assured you are getting something of a very high grade in terms of quality. That’s what has possibly given our brand it’s cult following among our customers, we might not have as many as some of our competitors but the ones who use them keep coming back and keep talking about it

YC - Could you please share with our readers about your core team and their roles :

  1. What is the current Team Size? 12

  2. Team Roles – 4 Cofounders from the family – Rameshwari Seth (PR, Finance), Manu Seth (R&D, Supply Chain), Bhaskara Seth (Marketing), Surya Seth (Operations)

YC - As a founder what primary functions are you responsible for, basically how typically you spend your day in the office?

Bhaskara - A day in an office typically starts with planning for the week or the day in the morning and subsequently coordinating efforts in meeting those goals.  A lot of it goes on the phone and on the laptop tracking different aspects of the business from the financial side of things to marketing to even the daily operations.

I still take care of the customer service personally because that helps us to be connected with our customers on a daily basis and that personal relationship gives us a lot of insight.

YC - Have you used social media platforms to promote your products or services? Which channels have been very effective for your business? Which marketing channels have been super flops for your business?

Bhaskara - Instagram, Facebook, and Google have all been very helpful in terms of paid marketing and SEO. We have tried Snapchat among other platforms too but maybe because of not having the right to etc they weren’t that effective for us.

YC - What according to you is the USP of your product or service, for which your customers come back to you?

Bhaskara - Unmatched quality and an assurance that the products that our customers are getting are genuinely effective.

YC - Can you elaborate on the challenges you faced in promoting your business?

Bhaskara - There are so many challenges in this business right from formulating and testing your products to getting them to your customer’s hands. It’s a long journey without any shortcuts you just have to go through it. But honestly, if you believe in your product and with the right determination it’s impossible not to succeed. Our initial six months were very difficult, we had days when we just sold a product but over the months it got better and then we caught some lucky breaks and won some awards from magazines which gave us widespread recognition and that catapulted us to a good reputable position in the market.

YC - Do you use any tools or software to manage your business? Is there any problem in your day-to-day operations which you wish could be solved with the help of software?

Bhaskara - I marketing analytics platforms, CRM, google analytics, email marketing etc. We will soon get an ERP system but at the moment we feel we haven’t reached that scale to really need one.

YC - What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on your order volume, number of customers, and revenue?

Bhaskara - At present we have around 30-35000 customers with neemli with 150-200 daily orders. I am not at liberty to mention the revenue numbers.

YC - Based on your experience so far would you have any advice for new Entrepreneurs.

Bhaskara - Take your time before diving into a business, not only is it important to make a really good product that you believe in, but you have to have a plan on how you will go about getting these products to your customer.

Don’t spend all your budget while launching, spread it out through the year because marketing especially online takes a pretty big chunk too, so be frugal and try gaining as much insight in the industry you are in.

One of the key things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is to work with people who know much more than you.