Interview: Sheta Mittal, Cofounder, &Me

(L to R) Sheta Mittal and Ankur Goyal, Co-founders of &Me | Motiverge
(L to R) Sheta Mittal and Ankur Goyal, Co-founders of &Me | Motiverge

&Me is a two year old fast growing startup, building the category of women’s health in India, giving women a clean and effective solution to their unique health needs. It is India’s first and only dedicated Women health and wellness brand. Their mission is to solve for women’s unique needs across Menstrual health, beauty and fitness with Ayurveda and Modern Science.

&Me’s women health product range includes drinks for PCOS, UTI, Skincare, Weight management and just launched Period chocolates! In 2 years &Me has grown to serve over 2L women and has an online community of 1L women.

Ankur Goyal and Sheta Mittal are the co-founders of &Me.

Ankur Goyal (30), is the Founder and CEO of &Me. An IIT Delhi and Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus with over 8 years of experience and a passion for innovation in the food and beverage industry, Ankur has worked with Nestle and Paper boat in the past.

Sheta Mittal (31), Cofounder of &Me is an Aerospace Engineer from IIT Bombay and Harvard Business School Alumnus. She is passionate about Health and Wellness and consumer focused problem solving. She started her career as a Management Consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, worked as a marketing manager with Future Group and then spent 5 years with NIKE in their US and China office. Last year, Sheta got back to India to solve for and build a Women’s Health brand in India.

Sheta is also a certified yoga instructor and a marathon runner.

They are combining their expertise in product and consumer, their Indian mindset and international background, to build a women health category.

In an exclusive interaction with Motiverge, Sheta Mittal, Cofounder, &Me shares more insights about their venture, journey so far, motivation and future plans.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Tell us more about &Me.

When we started two years ago in Sep 2017, there was no women’s health company in India.

Every month women, 50% of the population, was going through complex hormonal changes that affected their period health, skin, hair, fitness and mental health, but there was no good health solution for women. There was lack of research and focus because it was a ‘women’s health’ topic.

Therefore, in Sep 2017, we built &Me to solve for women’s unique health and nutrition needs, across menstrual health, beauty and fitness, through a combination of Ayurveda and Nutritional Science for a holistic solution.

We were category creators in India, we took almost 1 year to meet women, truly understand the nuances of their needs and develop the product.

Fast-forward two years, we now have a successful product range that includes ready to consume products for PCOS / PCOD management, Period care, UTI Relief, Skin care, and Weight Management.

All the products are absolutely preservative free, artificial ingredients free, and have proven to show results. We obsess effectiveness and taste for the consumers.

We have served 2L+ happy women and built a passionate community of 1L women.  And we have just begun.

What factors influenced or motivated you to start this startup? What seeded the idea of startup in this sector?

Women health has unique nutritional needs because of their unique life stages – periods, pregnancy & menopause and monthly hormonal changes. Men don’t have that.

But with women playing so many roles leaving them with no time, overall food quality reducing and lack of awareness, nutritional deficiencies have been on a rise.

54% women in India are Iron deficient vs. only 23% men. 50% women are Calcium deficient vs. only 25% men. Nutritional deficiencies and changing lifestyles have also led to a rise in hormonal imbalances, PCOS, post pregnancy hair loss, fatigue, severe menopause etc.

We built &Me to create a dedicated company that is obsessing women’s needs and solving them with clean products.

What were the first few steps during and after the launch of &Me?

Solution for Women health was a rare opportunity, in the sense that there was a high latent demand but products didn’t really exist. There was not much data or competition to look at. That put a high degree of onus on us to dig deeper into the consumer needs and identify the right product to solve the same. But it was exciting!

Looking back, early days were all about dreaming the vision – conceptualizing the idea, talking to hundreds of consumers, working on every small detail of the product, including what to post on social media. It was the most important phase of our journey to set the foundation right and define what &Me will be in future.

Have you raised funds so far?

Yes. We have raised funds. We are pre series A. We have been funded by Matrix, Sauce.VC, and Angels from India, Middle East and US.

Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going?

Making a dent in Women’s health and wellness space by solving for underserved needs that affects 50% of the world’s population!

We speak to 150 consumers everyday. When they candidly share their personal health experiences and share stories of how the product benefitted them motivates us to go through the day. Like one of our consumers told us “I was not getting regular periods for last 10 years, tried &Me drink daily for 20 days and got my periods!”

&Me Period Chocolates/Motiverge

How has been your journey so far?

Building &Me has been a very fulfilling journey but it has come with its own ups and downs.

When we first launched the products offline, we saw mixed traction. Women were not expecting to find health products in the store and glancing past it. There was no Women’s Health section in the store.

We tried expanding stores, enhanced retail marketing and even sales team overhaul. Then, in April 2019 we tried experimenting with online marketing and starting from our first ad post we have been growing the business 30-40% every month.

Increased digital penetration and rise of wallets has helped drive ecommerce sales for us. When women see the ad on their phones, they get intrigued because the need is high; we get messages thanking us for our efforts and happy consumers who see benefits! They are happy to try because an alternate doesn’t exist.

Thanks to online modes and platforms, we were able to drive the category. Now, 30%+ of our sales come from Tier 3 and below cities!

How big is your team?

We have a passionate team of 22 people now, working from our office (and not some of them remotely) in Bangalore.

Who are your major competitors in India as well as globally?

In its truest  sense, none!  We are India’s first and only dedicated women’s health products company.

What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region? How do you see market growth and response in the post Covid-19 world?

Huge! 50% of the population is women and we see huge similarities in consumer behaviour in India and APAC with the similar lack of products for women health. We are ramping up to sell internationally very soon.

Post COVID-19 scenario has helped us further accelerate the digital first consumer and focus on clean health and wellness products – both these trends help us.

Where do you see the startup in coming 3 to 5 years?

We want to obsess women’s health, truly understand her needs and strive to provide her with innovative, convenient and healthy SOLUTIONS. We want to be her Go to health brand across menstrual health, beauty and fitness.

Our vision is to create a ‘Women’s health Destination’.

What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?

Have Passion and Perseverance if you are looking to / are in a startup journey.

The journey is absolutely fulfilling and teaches you a lot, but to stay on the course and march towards doing something that no one has done before, when there are minds that tell you that what you are doing might not work – needs Passion and Perseverance.

Hope this interview would motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series .We are on a mission to put forth the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.

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