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2018 W-Power Trailblazers: Shubhra Chadda's lifestyle brand Chumbak has come a long way

Chumbak, known for its quirky collectibles, is expanding to more products and stores

Sayan Chakraborty
Published: Mar 9, 2018 08:08:23 AM IST
Updated: Mar 8, 2018 06:10:57 PM IST

2018 W-Power Trailblazers: Shubhra Chadda's lifestyle brand Chumbak has come a long wayImage: Nishant Ratnakar for Forbes India

Shubhra Chadda
Age: 37    
Co-founder and head of products, Chumbak

So kicked were Shubhra Chadda and her husband, Vivek Prabhakar, about launching a lifestyle brand in 2009 that they didn’t blink before selling their house to raise money. “It didn’t take much of a discussion to sell it,” recalls Chadda of launching Chumbak in Bengaluru in March 2010.

Over the next eight years, Chadda (co-founder and head of products) and Prabhakar (39, founder and CEO) built Chumbak into a lifestyle destination with 20 large-format stores in 11 cities, dabbling in everything from home decor to fashion and personal care. Chumbak’s revenue surged 20.6 percent year-on-year to about ₹41 crore in FY17, according to regulatory filings; losses grew by ₹55 lakh to about ₹20 crore, in the period.

Chadda is elated at how the idea that she nurtured since 2004, while working at technology company NetApp, has taken shape. It wasn’t until 2009 that the art aficionado, on a break from her job for raising her first child, decided to turn entrepreneur. “After a year of being a full-time mom, I realised I needed to go back to doing something,” says Chadda.

Not that floating Chumbak was a cakewalk. The days in the run-up to Chumbak’s launch were enervating. Chadda says she has done everything from carrying 120 boxes full of products to a seventh floor rented apartment, which doubled as Chumbak’s first office and storeroom, to convincing manufacturers to work with Chumbak despite the initial low volumes.

The company has come a long way since then, with Chadda spearheading products, design and sourcing. From selling collectibles and accessories at kiosks and pop-up stores in airports and theatres or niche design stores, to launching apparels and personal care products for women, Chumbak, says Chadda, has grown into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Personal care—moisturiser, body scrub, soap, shower gel and more—the latest category, is on the verge of being launched.

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Chadda keeps an eye on the details. “One of the biggest things for us is the store experience; how should it look, how should it smell, what kind of music will be played,” says Chadda.

Having bagged the licence for single-brand retail in 2017, apart from ₹80 crore in a funding round led by Gaja Capital, Chumbak aims to open 25 more large-format stores in 2018.

“She is perseverant, and learns from the market,” says Bharati Jacob, partner at Seedfund. “Shubhra is great at design and Vivek is great at branding. Shubhra has very high levels of conviction about her designs. And, she has been proven right more often than not.”

The goal, now, is to make Chumbak a household name among India’s young and affluent.

(This story appears in the 16 March, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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