(From left) Akshay Varma, Aditya Ruia and Anuj Ruia offer eco-friendly consumer products
Image: Mexy Xavier
Stylists: Juilee Borse And Nidhi Agrawal; Wardrobe: Aditya Ruia -Shirt, Trouser, Jacket: Rare Rabbit;
Akshay Verma – Shirt: Lotus Veda, Jacket: Rare Rabbit; Anuj Ruia - T-Shirt: Rare Rabbit, Suit - The Maroon Suit
Akshay Varma, 26
Aditya Ruia, 26
Anuj Ruia, 27
At times, you don’t plan to get into a business. You just stumble upon it. This is exactly what happened with three friends in Mumbai. On a regular weekend beach clean-up in 2019, Akshay Varma, Aditya Ruia and Anuj Ruia discovered a plastic wrapper of a chocolate brand. Well, nothing unusual about the litter. Right? But there was something alarming. The wrapper happened to be of a brand that stopped production in the 1990s.
The shocking fact triggered a haunting thought. Every plastic item used today will come back to haunt one day, the friends concluded. The harsh reality triggered the need to get into the business of eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives for daily essentials. Varma, an IIT-Madras alum, joined hands with Anuj who had worked at P&G, and BITS Pilani grad Aditya to start Beco in 2019.
Having some kind of background in the startup world came as a booster. Varma had started a social networking platform for pet owners—Pet It Up—which was shuttered after a year or so because his co-founder quit; and Aditya founded Quorg, an inter-organisational messaging platform for professionals, when he was in the third year of college. He sold the venture in two years. The trio rolled out bamboo-based products in April 2019.
Beco offers chemical free and sustainable alternatives to everyday domestic consumables such as detergents, floor cleaners, dishwashing liquids, garbage bags, reusable kitchen towels, bamboo tissues and toothbrushes. All the products are made from plant-based ingredients, and are available on ecommerce marketplaces
, online grocery delivery platforms and over 2,000 offline stores in Mumbai and Bengaluru. The company plans to expand its product range by getting into toilet, bathroom and all-purpose surface cleaners, and mosquito repellents.
For a startup
that stayed bootstrapped for the first two years, sales uptick happened only post-Covid-19. From ₹15 lakh sales per month before March 2020, the numbers leapfrogged to ₹25 lakh in just two months into the pandemic. Since then the startup has been on an upward trajectory. From ₹40 lakh in April 202—the month when it raised its seed funding of ₹4 crore and got financial backing from Climate Angels Fund, Titan Capital, Rukam Capital, Better Capital, Sequoia Sprout—Beco clocked ₹1.2 crore last December. It also roped in actor Dia Mirza to endorse the products.
The investors liked the vision and mission of the founders. “What makes the team stand out is the fact that their entrepreneurship is purpose-driven,” says Archana Jahagirdar, founder and managing partner at Rukam Capital. They have understood that saving the planet is a daily habit and not an occasional activity. “Their pioneering innovation is creating a new category and taking a niche mainstream.”
“Eco-friendly must not stay a fad but become a lifestyle,” he says. Over the next five years, the company has set a target to become a ₹1,000-crore brand. “We want to take it to the IPO
stage,” adds Varma, who has merged business, purpose and sustainability to make a larger impact.
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(This story appears in the 11 February, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)