The Indian cosmetics market has gone through several monumental changes in the present day. There has been a shift from international brands and western notions of beauty. Now there is a huge demand for local, pocket-friendly products that suit Indian skin types and hair. Along with this, consumers are now giving more importance to natural and organic beauty brands. Moreover, the range of cosmetic products have expanded beyond the range of make-up accessories to include a diverse range of personal care products that fight pollution and remedies that target specific problems. According to a report by Hindustan Unilever, young consumers are no longer seeking brand names but “meaning over materialism”. In the last four years one start-up has redefined the meaning of beauty for consumers. That start-up is none other than the caffeine-centric brand mCaffeine.
mCaffeine is India’s first caffeinated personal care brand that offers a wide variety of caffeinated beauty products. Unlike other cosmetic brands, it does not conform to the shallow stereotypes of colour and gender. Instead, it focuses on boosting consumers’ inner beauty and confidence. In addition, it utilizes caffeine to improve the health of their skin and hair. The inspiration for launching the start-up was mainly due to the passion and visionary thinking of co-founder Tarun Sharma.
In 2015, he suffered from a sore eye and based on his roommate’s advice, he applied a bag of green tea. After noticing a reduction in the swelling, he conducted a thorough research on this remedy and found out that caffeine lied at the heart of the solution. Soon Sharma realized that caffeine could work wonders for the human body’s physical well-being. Thus, in January 2016, he launched mCaffeine along with his friends Vikas Lachhwani, Vaishali Gupta, Mohit Jain and Saurabh Singhal.
The start-up has made immense progress in gathering funds and establishing itself as a desirable investment. In September 2020, it was able to secure $220 million in a Series B funding round led by Amicus Capital. In addition, RPSG Ventures, who had backed mCaffeine with a $2 million fund in the previous round, also participated as well along with Telama Investments. According to Sunil Theckath Vasudevan, co-founder and partner at Amicus Capital, mCaffeine has demonstrated very healthy unit economics while delivering high revenue growth.
There are a wide range of lifestyle products under the mCaffeine brand such as body scrub, body butter, face serum, face moisturizer, night gel, etc. All of them fall into three main categories of caffeine which are coffee, chocolate and green tea. The brand emphasizes heavily on the health improvements these ingredients have on the body. Coffee, aside from the caffeine, helps in deep cleaning the excess oils and impurities in the skin. The cocoa butter and shea butter found in chocolate helps to moisturize and smoothen the skin. Green tea, along with being a natural source of caffeine, is rich in antioxidants that helps in fighting free radicals and removing other impurities in the skin.
However, caffeine is consistently put in the limelight. It is an integral part of the start-up’s identity, marketing and innovation. Caffeine can be considered as an elixir for the hair and skin. This is because it combats the hormone DHT, which is responsible for hair loss and also fights free radicals present in the skin. All of their products are FDA approved, Made Safe & dermatologically tested with no SLS, parabens, silicones & mineral oils. Recently they have also been certified by PETA as being 100% vegan and cruelty – free.
As a beauty brand, mCaffeine stays ahead of the competition by keeping up with millennials and their culture. For example, as a company, it identifies itself as being vegan and ensures only high-quality natural ingredients are used. It also uses recycled glass bottles and plastic in packaging. In addition, it has also ensured that its products are FDA and PETA approved. This makes it an extremely popular choice among millennials as they tend to put a high value on transparency and environmental sustainability. According to the Organic Trade Organisation, 52% of organic consumers are millennials. More importantly, the Indian organic market stood at a value of $ 849.5 million in 2020 according to Expert Market Research and is further expected to reach a value of $ 2.6 billion in the next 5 years.
The start-up has also taken great steps in connecting and understanding the millennial ethos. It has explicitly stated that it does not intend to sell insecurities or make fairness creams. In a country scarred by the social effects of Fair & Lovely’s advertisements, this is a welcome change. What makes mCaffeine so unique is the fact that it goes beyond the surface and approaches the millennial consumer as an individual that embodies a certain lifestyle. It seeks to uplift the inner qualities such as confidence and this is what has led to it becoming a phenomenon in the Indian cosmetic market. It has been listed as a highly sought-after brand in Femina’s Power Brands 2021 and it has also won “The Best Scrub Award” at the Nykaa Femina Beauty Awards 2020.
Co-founders Gupta and Singhal are very clear in what lies in store for the future of mCaffeine. They plan to use the funds to boost the company’s research and development. Furthermore, they are also looking to expand their online distribution and operations network. However, the end goal remains the same for them – continue delivering high-quality, unique products.