Social community platform for women, Pankhuri today announced $3.2 Mn in funding led by Surge, a rapid scale-up program by Sequoia Capital India for startups, alongside India Quotient and Taurus Ventures.
Pankhuri is backed by India Quotient, Taurus Ventures and angel investors Farid Ahsan, Krishnan Menon, Kunal Shah, Sai Srinivas and Sweta Rau. The startup is part of Surge’s fifth cohort of 23 companies that have developed new digital solutions to help companies and individuals work.
Founded by Pankhuri Shrivastava in 2019, Pankhuri is a platform for women in India to network, learn and shop through live streaming, chat, and cohort based sessions, enabling them to be active participants in beauty and lifestyle conversations online instead of being passive consumers.
While there are over 240 Mn digitally connected women in India, only 27% of social media users in India are women. CEO and founder, Pankhuri Shrivastava said, “For many women, the thought of going online can be a daunting experience, especially given the rise in online bullying and trolling. Very often, these women also face social barriers which restrict them from pursuing their aspirations and socialising outside of their homes. Pankhuri was created with the ambition to break down these barriers facing millions of women in India, improving their digital literacy and empowering them to regain their right to expression. In building this inclusive online community, we want to provide them with a safe space to fulfil their aspirations, explore, get answers and engage with experts and creators for all things beauty and lifestyle related.”
In the past few years, more Indian women are going on the internet for the first time, with the country adding 15-20 Mn new users every month. This has led to a rise in female digital consumers who are now accessing content and buying products online. This digital influence has become a game-changer for India’s $18 Bn beauty market as women are replacing traditional ways of discovery (print and TV ads) with social media and creator driven discovery of products.
“Beauty products and services are one of the first high involvement verticals which will get disrupted. The characteristics of the vertical – high AOV, very sticky users and curiosity for newer products and trends make high engagement, creator-driven social commerce a promising opportunity. The tremendous traction and love from women for creator-driven content is building up a thriving and sticky community on Pankhuri,” said Madhukar Sinha, founding partner, India Quotient.
In the past few years, several companies have forayed into the women’s wellness and beauty care industry. Women wellness D2C brand Nua recently raised $7.1 Mn in a pre-series B funding round led by Lightbox Ventures. Other examples of companies functioning in the women wellness sector are Mumbai-based Chicnutrix, Healofy, BabyChakra, among others.
With the existing high potential of the beauty product industry, Indian markets already are the home for many beaty ventures. For instance, approximately a month ago, Mumbai based D2C beauty and personal care company MyGlamm raised funding from Ascent Capital, Amazon and actor Shradha Kapoor a month ago. Similarly, several brands such as Nykaa, Sugar, Mamaearth, Wow Skin Science, Skinkraft and Plum have gained popularity in fields across beauty, cosmetics and personal care. Currently, India has over 80 D2C brands in these sectors.