Countries like US host sex exhibitions, but more than half of India’s population would have never even heard of the existence of such a thing. And the similar effect is visible in the Indian sexual products market. The adult entertainment and sexual product market is a 1.6 Bn dollar per annum market; but not even 0.001% of it is tapped in India. Necessity is the mother of invention. This holds true for Shycart.com, which caters to a largely untapped, niche.
The portal offers products from various categories including women hygiene / menstrual products, sexual health, Fertility Products, Lingerie etc.
What makes this start-up unique?
Firstly, most ecommerce sites in this category are concentrated on the adult sexual and lingerie segment; whereas Shycart includes an umbrella of products including medical products, menstrual hygiene products and other unique everyday personal products. As its name suggests, it is not limited to sexual products but ‘shy’ products of all ranges, which can include even adult diapers or incontinence pads. Secondly, services like tests, tools like menstrual planner and the tips and advice section add a unique feature.
Traction & Competition
“Our first sale was in Nov 2012, we made a modest Rs. 1700 that month, but in Dec of 2013 we touched Rs. 4 lakhs mark,” says Oli. As per the company it has over 80,000 unique visitors a month and about 2,567 registered users. Currently, the company is shipping approximately 600- 700 orders a month.
“Competitors have come up fast, but they are all concentrated on the adult sexual and lingerie segment.” says Arul Oli, CEO of Shycart.com.
Talking about the demographics, it has almost equal number of men and women customers, this is mainly because of the product range. As per the company, it has more users from tier two and tier three cities than in the metros, because people in these cities are more prone to social stigma and labeling than metros where people don’t care what’s happening next door.
“Especially women from south Indian tier 2-tier 3 cities are under pressure from society/ family for so many things, they can’t even plan their pregnancy. Imagine if a woman in a tier 3 city wanted to check if she is missing her periods because of pregnancy without creating unwanted excitement or disappointments from family, there is no way of doing it because going to a gynec or a lab will surefire . And buying a preg test kit is impossible because the pharmacist is probably one of your distant uncles,” explains Oli on the reason of demand in these cities
Finding suppliers, convincing them to sell to the company in pieces rather than bulk, etc., is one of the biggest challenge faced by the company. Secondly, Attrition and finding quality manforce that understands startup environment and has the zeal is also one of the challenge faced by Shycart. “Its really hard to make them understand a startup office is not a luxurious place and more often than not, one would have to do best with what you have rather than expect all resources at deck. Here everybody has to do everything,” he says.
What about delivery? Secrecy in that too?
To ensure that secrecy of products is maintained till it goes in the hands of the customer itself, the company is using ‘Tamper proof’ bag, which has no branding/ company name/ logo anywhere on the outside. Neither, there is any product name or description on the package. Also, in case of intimate products it provides two layer packaging with a lot of tape, so that even if one layer was opened by someone, product is still hidden.
The company also offers hotspot pick up/ courier office pickup options in many pin code areas, where customer can pick up the parcels themselves if they aren’t comfortable receiving it at home.
Currently Shycart is bootstrapped, working with a team of 5 members. “We are getting interests from investors quite a bit, but we are looking for someone who can mentor us and accelerate us rather than just infusing funds,” he adds.
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