VIDEO: Paper Boat Ex-Founder Finds "Mind-Boggling" Changes in Startups Today

VIDEO: Paper Boat Ex-Founder Finds "Mind-Boggling" Changes in Startups Today
Neeraj Biyani - Co-founder, Asaya Skincare

Former founder of Paper Boat and current Co-founder of Asaya Skincare Neeraj Biyani finds "mind-boggling" changes within the startup ecosystem, which is necessary for entrepreneurs to progress.

"But when I started, none of this used to exist. Like the ecosystem was not there. Failures were not celebrated enough, failures, in fact, were looked down upon. But today that has completely changed...the whole ecosystem is supporting...That mindset is very, very important, you know, to progress," said Biyani in an exclusive podcast interview with StartupTalky.

Biyani also spoke about the kind of communication and marketing strategies that the brand is using to create brand awareness about Asaya, a skincare range for the melanin-rich skin type.

Speaking about his experience with Paper Boat, Biyani said he continues to carry forward the value of "learning from the customer and what the customer wants" something he learned from his earlier beverage venture.

Excerpts of the StartupTalky Podcast Interview:

StartupTalky: Your brand Asaya Skincare is catering to unique shades of

Neeraj Biyani: So, first of all, I wanted to do this because I felt it's unfair the way we've been treating melanin skin type. Today, if you look at the number of consumers who embrace their skin color, that seems to be on the lower end. But the data speaks for itself. 85% of the world population is melanin-rich skin type. But if you look at the global R&D dollars spent on formulations for the skin type was less than 14% in 2017. So there is a huge mismatch because I believe that it's not only in India but across the world.

While it seems niche today because there are only a few consumers or a cohort of consumers who embrace their skin and identify themselves as people of color, this number is going to increase significantly as the country progresses, as the consumers are more confident of themselves, as we embrace our color, as we embrace our own culture. But even for this 20% of the consumer base, which seems small today, there was no inclusive skincare brand, which is kind of unfair.

StartupTalky: Can you explain what made you get into skincare and Asaya?

Neeraj Biyani: Yeah, there's a personal story to it. You know, I and my wife moved to the US in 2019. At that time, my wife started to have adult acne and she is a melanin-rich consumer like me and you. And then she tried to solve for those using OTC products in the US and ended up burning her entire skin. And we had to go to a dermatologist. That's when we realized how different melanin skin types are and how different differentiated approaches to skincare one needs to have if you have that kind of skin.

When we shifted to India, we were looking for, you know, what is the underlying trend in India? Do we have such products in India? To our shock and surprise, we realized that there were no such products even in India. And in India, people of color are like 85% of the population, right? So here, even in this country, we are so obsessed with a non-inclusive approach to beauty that the beauty standards are unrealistic where, you know, people are just looking at lighter skin tones and trying to become one of those which, by the way, is not possible.

So, you know, you have a very narrow segment of products and a narrow segment of consumers who are asking for this product. That's unfair. And because my wife has gone through this whole, I don't want any such consumer to go through the same ordeal that she had. My daughter has a melanin skin type and we don't want her to be growing up in a country that is obsessed with whitening.

To catch the entire conversation, watch the video below:

StartupTalky x Asaya Skincare Co-founder, Neeraj Biyani

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