In signs of how investors have started seeing merit in glamour-less yet substantive and quintessential startup niches, Saral Designs, a startup manufacturing affordable women hygiene products has nabbed an undisclosed amount in a fresh angel round. The round saw Fynd founder Farooq Adam and Ambi Parameswaran (Advisor, Former CEO of FCB Ulka Advertising) as investors.

Founded by Suhani Mohan and Kartik Mehta in mid-last year, Saral Designs has developed a low-cost process (machine designed and developed in-house) for manufacturing high quality sanitary napkins at a decentralized level. Decentralization cuts down several middle-men in the process of distribution. Additionally, these units are replicable and can be set-up at costs < ₹10 Lacs, making scaling to different geographies easy.

More recently, Saral Designs launched ‘Aisha Ultra XL’ sanitary napkins that are ultra-thin pads with wings with quality as good as some big brands.

And to spread its products more aggressively among rural India, Aisha Ultra XL pads are being made available to school/ college girls via vending machines apart from regular channels of distribution, providing the girls with easy access and privacy. While vending machines in school washrooms is a common thing in western countries, it has started gaining acceptance in Indian schools with the growing emphasis on Swacch Bharat mission.

Saral’s team consists of 9 young engineers from IITs, NITs and BITS Pilani and has 15 people working on production and local sales.

Talking about her company’s mission to disperse high quality, affordable women hygiene products to Indian women, Co-founder Suhani Mohan says,

Hygienic menstrual protection is a basic need for every woman, absence of which has led to 70%  women in India contracting reproductive tract infections. There is a huge potential for good quality products at the right price coupled with an innovative distribution strategy to reach out to the 312 million under-served women of India.

And co-founder Kartik Mehta adds,

We have several interesting plans in our pipeline in the coming months ranging from increasing our production and sales, to adding more peripheral features to the product which makes the pads easier to use and dispose, especially for the low income segment where access to toilets is limited.

Ambi Parameswaran an investor in the current round, says,

Girl hygiene is a very important health issue in India. Saral Designs addresses a key socio-health issue through a cost effective solution. The potential is indeed sky high!

As for some eye-opening stats, only 12% of India’s 355 million women use sanitary napkins due to lack of affordability and poor access to good quality products. Due to growing prosperity of the middle class, increase of women in the workforce and increasing awareness about sanitation, the sanitary pads market is expected to grow 5 times to USD 3 billion in India by 2025.

Saral Designs is backed by Marico Innovation Foundation to build a strong sales & distribution strategy to take their innovation to the market.

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