As women entrepreneurs, what has been your experience in launching a start-up
Even though we have been treated like newcomers on some occasions but that has not been because of any gender bias but more due to our lack of experience. We also feel that the Indian business environment has now matured to accept, appreciate and encourage women entrepreneurs to excel on their merits.
A notification about a new order you just received makes you feel….
It vindicates our belief that customers are looking to be spoilt for choices in the digital ecosystem.
Tell me about the genesis of Trykiya.
It happened when both of us wanted to switch our current hair oil for a new, more effective one. We realised that the only way we’d ever get to try a new product was by taking a leap of faith and spending a fortune on a product that we assumed, at best, was good enough. It happened yet again when I set out to shift to a more sustainable pad brand. I tried different brands, but the only catch was that I had to buy the full-sized product to try as less as a single unit. Finally, we were at a point where we ended up creating a product to solve our own problem!”
When was the partnership born?
Mili and I (Punanya) were in the same division in school. We used to be assigned projects and dance choreographies together, and our creativity levels have always matched. We had this understanding where one of us would ideate and the other would execute the ideas; that just threw us together! Fast forward to today, we’re best friends of over a decade, who are now running a business together.”
Can you describe how TryKiya is different from other platforms?
We have designed the platform to empower the customers so they can choose the products they wish to try. Trykiya is unique as the product range is not limited to only the cosmetic industry but the consumers can shop across a wide variety of products ranging from cosmetics, tea, coffee, food, snacks, pet food, accessories etc. Additionally, there’s no mandatory subscription requirement, no trial points, no shopping points and no pre-condition of minimum shopping before trying products hence making experimenting from home a walk in the park!
What were some apprehensions you had before starting the venture?
The biggest concern we had was whether the brands would understand this gap that we had felt in the market and rightly so, because it took us months to convince our first brand to come onboard. However, we kept going as we genuinely believed that consumers in India were ready to experiment with new products if they had an option which was cost effective as well as user friendly.
Tell us the story behind the name.
Mili and I (Punanya) would sit for hours on end, writing names/ key words in our registers; we wanted to come up with something that reflected what the brand stands for. Then, after a solid month or so of brainstorming, Mili’s sibling randomly came up with the name ‘TryKiya’; we liked it instantly.
What were some of the biggest struggles that you faced?
For me (Mili), I think it was the fact that neither of us had any engineering background and our ambition was to launch a digital platform for consumers. I remember losing sleep over something as basic as how to get a website designed! Further, the unconventional nature of our platform made it a very challenging task for even our software partner. The technical part of TryKiya, as per Punanya, was a tough nut to crack, but the fact that we’ve been able to do it only goes on to say that you don’t need to specialise in everything to start something. All you need is willingness to work hard and go that extra mile.
What was your experience in launching a new start up during a pandemic?
In our experience, says Mili, technology has been a huge game changer for start-ups as we were able to connect seamlessly with all aspects of our business operation such as logistics, packaging, creative team, partner vendor brands etc without any physical interactions and were still able to deliver the desired result. According to Punanya, “I feel that since everything was on a standstill, we could channelize our energies more effectively into converting our dream into reality”.
Tell us briefly how one can experience sampling on the platform?
It’s simple! All you must do is go to the premium box, where you can choose any four samples at Rs 399. The samples can be from any vertical, and you can choose a bunch that caters to your tastes and needs. Once you have tried the products, you can even buy the full-sized product at a discount, too!
What has the response been like till now?
We have been pleasantly surprised by the response we have received so far. Brands have reposed their confidence in our platform and within a month of our launch we have further added premier brands such as o3+ Professional, WOW Skin Science, Arata, Ilana Organics etc.
The consumers have also been enthusiastic in visiting our platform and even in tier-II cities we have got substantial following.
How do you see your brand: As a necessity or as a luxury?
Our initial perception of it was that of a necessity. But now we realise that it doesn’t have to be either it can be a little bit of both. We want TryKiya to adapt to different consumers and different sections of consumers uniquely; we see it as being tailor-made to suit the customers’ needs!
How would you describe working with your best friend?
We’re very different people and are poles apart, despite the both of us being Pisces! We’re contradicting personalities but I think that’s what makes us both fit together so perfectly, says Punanya. And obviously, we do have fights. But it’s always like fighting with a sibling because no matter what, we must sort it out. We must see it through to the end. We’re together in this, after all, says Mili.
Where do you see the platform in future?
In the immediate future, we hope to bring the consumers of tier-II and tier-III cities the platform experience and bridge the gap between them and the brands. We want TryKiya to be the go-to platform for all brands to launch their products in the market. Further, apart from trying products, we also intend to bring new physical activity experiences for consumers.