Today, India is one of the fastest growing startup hubs in the world. While it’s a big achievement, it took us really long to get here. The reason? Starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur has never been the go to career choice of Indians. This is specifically true for India’s middle class population.
Dipali Mathur was once one of them who never thought she could one day become an entrepreneur. Today, she is a co-founder of Super Smelly, a direct-to-customer (D2C) startup that manufactures personal care products for teenagers.
Dipali is the first person in her family to ever start a business. Her childhood days were like any other kid who grew up in a traditional middle class family: she studied hard, got good grades, chose science, and later became a private banker.
“While growing up, I used to think business was a dirty word and only people who are cunning and hustlers could do this. I grew up believing that this was certainly not for our family, which is academically inclined,” Dipali Mathur, co-founder of Super Smelly, told Paytm for Business.
She worked as a private banker for a decade before getting into entrepreneurship.
Dipali said that although she was enjoying the perks of a stable and well-paying job, she had this itch to start something of her own.
“I certainly felt the fire in the belly to do something, but I didn’t have the clarity. That is why while growing up I was a perfectly average person who did almost everything,” she said.
When she became a mother, these triggers of doing something meaningful started taking shape. She realised she wanted to change the social narrative around bringing up girls and leave something for the next generation.
The idea to start a personal care brand for teenagers struck Dipali when she was looking for a non-toxic deodorant for her daughter Prashali and couldn’t find any.
“Like every millennial parent raised in this age of Google, I used to look up everything on the Internet since my daughter Prashali was born. When it came to her personal care products like bath gels, moisturisers I started following two golden rules: the products I pick for her should be dermatologically approved for her age group, and certified toxin free,” Dipali said.
Dipali said she didn’t have any problem looking for toxin free products for her daughter when she was a baby. “When Prashali entered her teenage years I was looking for a toxin free deodorant for her. I realised that my daughter was a part of this massive GenZ population, for whom there is not even a single brand that makes any product. Forget toxin free products, there is no brand that makes anything for them.”
That is when Dipali and her co-founder Milan Sharma got together to launch Super Smelly, India’s first personal care product, which is aimed at the youth of India. Today, it sells deodorants, pocket perfumes, skin care, lip care, hair care and other such non-toxin personal care products for GenZ. The brand and its products have been certified by Safe Cosmetics Australia – the certification company in this field.
A foot in the door
Dipali said that the idea to start Super Smelly might have started with her facing challenges as a mother, but it was the banker in her who was startled by the sheer math behind it.
Dipali estimates the GenZ population in India is about 40 percent of the total population, making it a huge market. According to a research, India had about 472 million GenZ population in 2020.
“Gen Z, which is also known as zoomers colloquially, is the cohort that lies between millennials and Gen Alpha. In terms of age and years, it is the name given to the current generation of young individuals who were born between 1997 and 2012,” says the Pew Research Center.
“The fact that there is no one looking at this, makes it even more lucrative,” she said.
While Dipali and Milan wanted to crack the personal care market for the GenZ, they were aware it wasn’t going to be easy. The market is flooded with hundreds of personal care products, specifically deodorants that are endorsed by celebrities.
Dipali said they wanted to have a quirky name to stand out in the crowded market and to get a foot in the door. “The name Super Smelly, often has people intrigued and gives the brand a great recall value.”
Although, when the company started with distribution offline retail stores were hesitant to keep their products. “Retailers are used to selling deodorants with known faces of actors and actresses. We didn’t have that kind of money to do that. It was a big challenge to get our products listed in these offline stores,” Dipali said.
She changed the distribution strategy and started listing on major e-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart. But the company got its major breakthrough when it listed its products on Nykaa.
“It turned things around for us. We were bought without being asked any questions. Then there was a ripple effect and sales started picking up on our website as well,” she said.
Once people started recognising Super Smelly, the company partnered with modern retail chains like Health&Glow and others.
Dipali not only wants to make Super Smelly the leading personal care brand for the youth, she wants to align the company’s values with what today’s youth believe in.
“Today’s generation questions stereotypes like why should fragrance have a gender – deodorant for men and women. Super Smelly is a gender neutral brand. We are a skin colour positive company. We are acne positive, body positive, environmentally conscious, and a cruelty free brand.”
How Super Smelly scaled with Paytm Payment Gateway
While Super Smelly has its own website, most of its sale was still happening through online third-party channels. Dipali knew that as a D2C brand, it’s important to drive sales from their own website. “When I am selling from my website, I get to give my users more benefits and engage with them,” she said.
Super Smelly was struggling with a high cart abandonment rate on its website.
The worldwide data around cart abandonment rates paints a very grim picture for startups. The average cart abandonment rate stands at 69.99%, says Baymard Institute. That’s more than two-thirds of all the orders received.
“One of the major issues was credibility. On a new website, customers hesitate to make the payment. They would get cold feet when they come to the billing page, and go to Amazon and buy our product from there. It hurts the bottom line.”
That is when Dipali started looking for a reputed payment gateway. Her search ended at Paytm Payment Gateway.
“The sense of credibility that customers feel when they see Paytm on our website is the same when they see Visa or Mastercard. This one brand suddenly got me a lot of credibility from my customers. Even if it’s a 600 bucks product, the buyer feels that their money is safe since Paytm is handling the payment. This means a lot for a brand like us,” she said.
“Because of Paytm we have been able to reduce our abandoned cart rate to a great extent,” Dipali said.
Paytm, being a trusted brand in India, has more than 330 million+ users under its canopy of consumer reach. Paytm PG, which is another payment product offered by Paytm for businesses, is there to simplify digital payments for different brands in the country.
Paytm Payment Gateway is delighted to be a part of Super Smelly’s journey and assisting them with reducing their cart abandonment rate.
Looking back at her entrepreneurial journey, Dipali said there were times when she doubted herself and was scared of not knowing what’s coming next.
“Every entrepreneur goes through self doubt and the fear of the unknown. But if you are sure of why you want to do something and have a strong motivation to wade through it all, you will learn how to handle these two issues.”