Anurag Kedia | BFM 89.9 | Pilgrim's Brand Building and Ambitions

Vertex SEA | 06 Dec 2023

Anurag Kedia, co-founder of our portfolio company Pilgrim, was interviewed by Roshan Kanesan on BFM 89.9.

He shares about Pilgrim’s focus on brand building and their path to $70 M in revenue as well as IPO ambitions. Intrigued? Tune in to the podcast on BFM 89.9.

Transcript: 

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Radio Host, Roshan Kanesan: BFM 89.9, Good morning. I'm Roshan Kanesan and welcome to Open for Business. Pilgrim is an all-natural vegan direct-to-consumer skin care startup brand headquartered in Mumbai, India, and houses over 50 products across four ranges. of collections, each of which is inspired from what they call their beauty secrets around the world. This has caught the attention of some prominent investors. Just two months ago, Vertex Ventures and Fireside Ventures, among others, were part of Pilgrim's $20 million US Series B funding round, which will help them accelerate the company's growth in India. Today, on Open for Business, we explore Pilgrim's origins and growth story, as well as insights into how to build a consumer beauty brand from scratch as well as a sneak peek at their future plans. Helping us with this is Anurag Kedia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim. Anurag, can you hear me loud and clear?

Anurag Kedia: Yes, Roshan. Good morning and very happy to be here.

Roshan Kanesan: Thank you so much for taking the time. I've, this was, this particularly caught my attention given the amount of raise but also the work you're trying to do. Building a beauty D2C brand is no easy feat and we're gonna dive into all of it just a little bit. Now, Anurag, correct me if I'm wrong here, but from my understanding, you've got 15 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, including time with the founding team of the Four Fountains De-Stress Spa Group, as well as the Ayurvedic Treatment Chain, NuAyurveda Clinics. Talk to us about how this experience, that 15 years plus these two groups, led you to this point of starting your own D2C beauty and personal care startup. 

Anurag Kedia: So that's a great question, Roshan. You know, like, You mentioned I used to run a chain of spas and ayurveda clinics. For the listeners who are not familiar with ayurveda, it's the Indian medical science, which is based on natural treatments and herbs and oils and while it's a holistic treatment, there are a lot of beauty therapies also available. Spas, like all of us understand, offer massages and beauty treatments. So having spent more than, you know, 15 years in that industry, I realized that while we were doing a lot of services at the centers, the reach of these centers was limited by the physical presence which we had. So if we had 30 spas or 40 spas, that's the number of people we could cater to. Our aspiration was higher, but I thought there was an opportunity to serve a lot of people across the country in India. So why not get into physical product retailing, which will offer me the opportunity to reach out to every part of the country? And that's how...I kind of migrated from a journey at Spas and Ayurveda clinics to launching the D2C brand, which is called Pilgrim. The website is www.discoverpilgrim.com for people who may want to check us out. So that's the initial thought. And we started looking at the market, what we realized was a lot of Indian consumers were hoarding on beauty products when they were traveling internationally. And they were bringing back these products during their international visits. So we said, why is this phenomenon there when there are so many beauty brands, both of international origin and of Indian origin, in India itself? So we found out that the products which were available internationally, often either they were not available in India, or the price points were not very India-friendly. So what would happen is that a $10 product abroad, by the time it came to India, there's which are the duties the government levies on any imports, the $10 product will become $15 or $20 because of the customs duties. And the $10 in terms of purchasing power in India is anyway expensive. So by the time it became $15, $20, it what was mass premium internationally became luxury in India. So we said, is there an opportunity to bring out some of these international ingredients, international formulations? and offer it at Indian prices and to give you a sense, the Indian price band in the mass premium segment is typically below $10. So $6 to $8 US dollars is where the sweet spot is.

Roshan Kanesan: So we're talking about the equivalent of maybe about 30 ringgit essentially. And you know, a big part of this and it's something I guess we'll always take for granted and something that I was going to ask you whether it's, is it a big enough market, I guess, to be catering to people who are going overseas and bringing back these cosmetic products because of those duties. What do you guys expect to be the size of this market?

Anurag Kedia: You're right Roshan, that may not be a very large market and the opportunity if we had to target only that audience will be limited. However, the interesting thing which was happening was the number of people who are able to travel internationally and buy was limited, but the number of people who were exposed to these trends and aspirations was very high, was far higher. So if one person was traveling abroad and buying internationally, there were probably 20 people in India for that one person who knew about the brands, who knew about the formulation, but they couldn't travel abroad, and hence they were not able to buy. And with the spread of social media with Instagram, whatever is happening internationally comes to India very, very quickly. And I'm sure that's the case in Malaysia. The trends are available on the same day. whatever is happening internationally. So the aspiration towards some of these international products' ingredients was very high. And I'll give you an example, which might, I'm sure be a phenomenon in Malaysia also. So Korean beauty or what is called as K-beauty has really taken off in a very big way globally. Do you see that in Malaysia also?

Roshan Kanesan: Yeah, I think the K-culture has definitely taken its flight. So I think that's what are the things that you're tapping into, right? Your beauty secrets, including, I think, Spain, France, and one other geography that escapes me right now, Australia. 

Anurag Kedia: And there is Korea and Amazon rainforest. Ah, interesting. 

Roshan Kanesan: Is the Amazon rainforest a newer range of yours?

Anurag Kedia: It's a couple of months old for us, but our entry point or what, you know, the startup ecosystem is called as Go-to-Market for Korean Beauty. One of the reasons was Korean beauty was a lot more recognized, a lot more popular. And the same problem which we spoke about, 15-20 US dollar for a single unit versus what the Indian audience wanted was a similar quality at a 5-6 dollar, 7 dollar kind of a price point. So that was an entry point and we solved very, very good early traction when we launched the first set of 8-9 products inspired by Korean beauty. And since then, you know, God has been kind and we have grown from strength to strength, adding new products, new ranges from different parts of the world with human shape. 

Roshan Kanesan: Talk to us a little bit about the product evolution since you started with K-Beauty. What does the product evolution look like since 2019?

Anurag Kedia: Yeah. So when we launched, we launched with some nine SKUs across face and hair. So a couple of face serums, face creams, face wash, toner, moisturizer, shampoo, hair mask, that kind of range. And today we have close to 140 SKUs, which covers face, hair, body. And very recently we have launched a range of perfumes and color cosmetics. So within color cosmetics, we have foundation, serums, BB creams, lipsticks, primer. So our assortment is much, much wider now. How we look at our product assortment is, for every, you speak to any woman in India and I'm sure that might be the case in Malaysia. The woman is the lady is going to tell you why skin is unique. Nothing suits me. So I need something which is designed for me. So we said, you know, if there are whatever a few billion people in the country or in the continent, are there that many number of skin types? Obviously no. But what consumers were looking for is something which was solving their problem in a manner, which was efficacious and safe. So. While consumers want high efficacy, which means the products have to deliver the results they want, they're also very concerned that it should not hurt me if it doesn't do me any good. The products need to be safe in terms of formulation.

Roshan Kanesan: Sorry, and all your formulations are done in-house, correct?

Anurag Kedia: Yeah. Last majority of our formulations are done in-house. A few of them are done by our partner R&D Labs. So we partner with a few R&D Labs globally who also help us in some formulation development, but a large majority is done in-house.

Roshan Kanesan: Anurag, we have to go into a few messages, but when we come back we'll talk a little bit about the early days of starting this and some of the key challenges, as well as the marketing strategy, which is oftentimes key to a D2C brand's success. Folks I've been speaking with Anurag Khedia, he's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based direct-to-consumer skincare startup brand. I'm Roshan Kanesan, you' re listening to Open for Business, Keep being here at BFM 89.9, the business station.

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Roshan Kanesan: BFM 89.9, welcome back to Open for Business. I'm Roshan Kanesan and this morning I'm speaking with Anurag Kedia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based direct-to-consumer skincare startup brand. Anurag, you gave us a little bit of a taste in terms of where this came from, right? And you had prior experience in this business, 15 years in the business before you said, okay, having these centers, whether it was the spa or the Ayurvedic centers, You could only cater to so many people. So let's build a product that we can sell to many more people to get these kind of benefits as well. We'll talk about marketing strategy in a little bit, because that's vital for a DDC brand. But in the early days, when you first started, talk to us about how this all started. What was the, I guess, the MVP of Pilgrim? How did this all begin?

Anurag Kedia: So like we were discussing, Roshan, the fundamental insight of what we wanted to build came from consumers. when we saw consumers traveling internationally. Then when it came to the actual product offering, what should be the price, what should the images look like, all of that. We did a lot of research on the marketplaces and the one marketplace we really like in terms of the data it offers is Amazon. And there are a lot of tools which have been built on top of Amazon. So there is a tool called Jungle Scout, there is a tool called Helium 10, and it gives you a lot of data. in terms of what are the different products which are selling, what price points are they selling, what is the pack size, which brand is selling, how many SKUs, what keyword searches are happening. So it's almost like doing a very large scale market research on your laptop. So here what would take a few million dollars to get the data. Now it's available for like $10, $20 a month. That's the kind of subscription you pay or $50 a month. There's so much data available from Amazon in terms of what the consumers are looking for. And we've used Amazon data extensively to identify what is the pricing, what is the pack size, what is the collection of products, what kind of promotions to run, because you could run a promotion for a day and see what is the response, a discount, whether you should offer a percentage discount or a price off. So everything was possible to test out on Amazon. Early Journey is very happy that you managed to work so closely with the Amazon team and identify what will work in the market. And once we had done, you know, those learnings, then there are other channel partners in India, so which are either, you know, some of them are vertical players in the beauty space alone or there are horizontal marketplaces like Amazon and of course, our own website. So the second phase of growth came from, you know, partnering with other channels and on our website. When we started using what we used to call as Facebook and Instagram, now it's become better. So we started running ads there and reaching out to more and more consumers, trying to educate them about our offering. And that has driven a lot of growth in the second phase.

Roshan Kanesan: So you started primarily on Amazon, is that right? And then grew to other channels? 
Anurag Kedia: That's right. We started with Amazon and then slowly we kept partnering with other channels. 

Roshan Kanesan: And right now, so far it sounds like this has mostly been done to digital distribution channels or through e-commerce. Have you explored physical distribution or physical outlets as well? 

Anurag Kedia: Yeah, so, you know, till I would say eight, nine months back, we were only an online-only brand, but in the last eight, nine months, we have set up a fairly large, what we call as offline team, so for the physical distribution. So in India, there is a very large Sephora equivalent general trade. So it's not one brand which has a few hundred outlets, but these are single brand outlets. So the brand might have two or three outlets. So there's more and more pop, but can be fairly large format. And all of them, you can support with a sales girl who's called the Beauty Advisor in India. So currently we have presence in close to 400 such stores across the country, where there is one of our representative, a sales girl who's standing there to talk to the consumers and explain the offering.

Roshan Kanesan: And if I understand this correctly, about 60% of the sales come from now the partner channels, whereas 40% are from your own channels. Are you comfortable with this ratio at this point or are you looking to leverage your own channels more going forward?

Anurag Kedia: So within the online space, Roshan, you're right, the split is 40-60, but the offline sales or the physical distribution has also now started making a, contributing significantly to the brand. So the offline sales today are close to 15 odd percent, and 85% is online. And within that, that ratio of 40-60 is there, and we are fairly comfortable with that 40-60 ratio there.

Roshan Kanesan: So in a lot of ways, you can look at Amazon as the first iteration on Amazon as that MVP of yours. That's how you tested the market. You had a data-driven environment that you could utilize. You're designing this and formulating on your end, and you have a manufacturer to help you put it together. All this is done within India, of course, which helps you get through the duties and help you bring your price point down. But if you're only USP is the fact that you're doing it in India, other people can come and crowd that market as well. So ultimately, what do you think or what do you hope sets Pilgrim aside from the other brands or potential competitors in the market?

Anurag Kedia: So not just in beauty, Roshan. I believes that across categories for a new age brand. or a digital native brand, the fundamental differentiation is going to be the brand. So what does the brand really stand for? So the brand has multiple layers to my mind. The first layer is what is the basics or the ethos of the brand. So as a new age brand, as a digital native brand, there are certain norms which have now got established. For example, we are an environmentally friendly brand. We are a cruelty-free brand. All our products are FDA-approved. We are dermatologically tested. So this is where the parity with the rest of the market is. But with any new age brand, some of the old incumbents, legacy brands continue to be not environment friendly, not be cruelty free, but that's a different ball game altogether. These are table stakes now to be a cruelty free brand or to be sustainable brand. Where we differentiate is our sourcing of international ingredients and formulations. where we source volcanic lavage from Korea, we source red wine from France, or we source the Kakadu plum, which is the richest source of vitamin C from Australia. We source Pataua oil from Amazon rainforest, and we come up with formulations which are highly efficacious. Can another brand come and copy this? Yes, everything can be reverse engineered, even Apple iPhones have been reverse engineered. And that's the highest level of engineering which is really possible. but they have been reverse engineered, that technologies have been copied. But it's not just the product formulation alone which will make a business successful. It's the entire consumer experience right from the point of discovery. When they discover you, what is the kind of imagery they're seeing on the website or on social media? What is the kind of communication which is there? What is the kind of order experience when they're trying to order on the website? Is it seamless? How much time did it take to deliver the product to the house? How was the unboxing experience? So that brown box which reaches your home, just recall the time every time we have ordered online. We look forward to receiving that brown box and that bundle of joy, irrespective of what we have ordered. It could be something very mundane. But we really look forward to opening that box and it gives us a temporary joy of holding that product in hand. Once you have the product in hand, what is the packaging, how does the packaging look like? What is the kind of communication which has been done on packaging? Then comes the final moment of truth, which is how does the product perform on your skin? This entire consumer journey has to be mapped and each touch point has to be taken care of. And that's where I think brands will be build people who are able to do a consistently good job across every touch point, even if you miss out on one or two touch points, chances are consumers may not come back. And let's look at our own behavior. You know, everything else was great, but the delivery just took way too long and we become so upset with the brand that we don't end up going back to the brand.

Roshan Kanesan: Anurag, clearly brand building is a key part of this. And I'll touch on that a little further after we come back from the 10:30 AM News Bulletin, which is coming up after this. But we'll also get into that 20 million dollars you've raised and how you're going to be utilizing those funds, but a lot more, including your growth ahead after clocking in about 10 million USD as at March 31st earlier this year. So a lot more to get into. Folks, I've been speaking with Anurag Kadia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based direct-to-consumer skincare startup brand. I'm Roshan Kanesan. We're going into the news bulletin. Open for Business will be back in a bit. So keep it here to BFM 89.9, the Business Station.

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Roshan Kanesan: BFM 89.9. Welcome back to Open for Business. I'm Roshan Kanesan and this morning I've been speaking with Anurag Kedia, he's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based direct-to-consumer skincare startup brand. Anurag, before the news bulletin, we spent a few minutes really emphasizing the importance of the brand-building part of this business, that the Pilgrim brand is going to be the key differentiator because ultimately everything can be reverse-engineered. So what's going into your brand building? You talked a little bit about the customer experience, but aside that, on top of that, the marketing side of things, what are you doing to get your name out there and essentially not just get eyeballs, but get eyeballs and conversions? 

Anurag Kedia: So there is a very scientific process we follow at Ocean and what is called as managing the entire funnel, top funnel, middle funnel, bottom funnel, and then... post purchase, what is the kind of experience that consumers have. So top funnel is essentially consumers who have not heard about the brand. And the job there is to spread brand awareness. So we reach out to a large number of consumers through what are called as reach frequency campaigns and also through a lot of influencers. We work with close to 500 or more influencers every month. And in combination, we try and spread awareness for the brand. At this stage, we don't expect consumers to buy from us, but just become aware that there is a brand called Pilgrim and this is the kind of products is the brand offers. Then the next step of middle funnel, where we are trying to, the consumers were already aware about the brand. We're trying to convince them to consider the brand. Still not make a purchase, but make a favorable impression about the brand. When they start, we are in the consideration side of the two, three brands which they're considering to buy. Here is where testimonials play a role. Reviews and ratings on market places play a role in terms of what are the consumers saying? Have they heard about You know us through a friend or a family. Is there some recommendation? Is there some social proof going? Is there some PR buzz about the brand? This is the second step and the third step is when the consumer is actually looking to make a purchase like all consumers, you know all of us like have a Little sweet deal, you know some discount some 3B some offer going on So that's where the final conversion happens. But if the brand is not, the awareness for the brand is not there. And if you're not in the consideration set, whatever discount you may decide to offer, the consumer is not going to buy you. So you can't skip the top funnel and the middle funnel to move on to the bottom funnel just by giving discounts. The entire funnel needs to be captured. And once the consumer has made a purchase, what is the kind of communication you're having with the consumer? You can send out communication about how to use the product, what to do, what not to do. Once you know if the bottle is going to last 30 days, you can send out a communication post 30 days, say your bottle must be nearly empty. Can you come back and buy from us? So there's a complete consumer journey, which is mapped. And that's how, and each element is tested. What offers are working, what awareness tools are working, which influencers are working, what messaging is working. Each tool can be tested because it's all digitally driven. And that's how we try and join growth for the brand.

Roshan Kanesan: Anurag, that sounds very deliberate and very well planned out, but it also sounds very expensive, and which is to be expected, I guess, when you are building a new brand and you have to go and compete against other people who are also spending a lot of money in the market. Given the switch in terms of growth at all costs is no longer as tolerable or is no longer tolerable, you need to have some semblance of margins and a path to profitability. How are you balancing that with the need to continue to spend on customer acquisition? 

Anurag Kedia: So, Roshan, I think we have been very, very frugally managed. I come from a business community in India, which is called Marwadis, and we are known for our frugality. So, we have always looked at, you know, once the cash balance and we don't, never want to run out of money. While there is a little bit of burn which has been there, but that's always been much, much below than what the brand could have afforded. So our corporate team has been very, very lean. When we started off, we were a team of five or six people for almost 12 months. Then we grew to a team of 20, 25 people, and only awfully have we crossed a certain number of team members. That's really the fixed cost of the business, and that can really kill you. On the marketing side, we have been very clear from day one, we don't believe in, you know, growth at any cost, unit economics have to make sense at every point of time. And we only spend when we know we can acquire a customer profitably. Sometimes the first transaction is not profitable, but definitely by the second transaction, we want the consumer to have start generating some profits. Otherwise, we are happy not to acquire customers. Thankfully, because of our differentiated positioning, we have not seen a growth pressure so far, and we have been growing three to four times year on year. 

Roshan Kanesan: For other founders and business owners who are in a similar space who are listening to this now, do you have any, I guess, thoughts on how to effectively use the marketing budget? Because this is always a key consideration. We all have finite amounts of marketing budgets. Where would you suggest money be focused on?

Anurag Kedia: So the one key thing, Roshan, to understand is there are two kinds of marketing monies which are typically there. One is what is called as performance marketing. This is what goes and gets customers who are ready to buy today. And the second is brand marketing, where you are talking to consumers who may not even be looking to buy a product today, but probably will be in the market three months or six months later. So and often, you know, digital brands are tempted to spend only on performance marketing and not spend any money on brand marketing. The one conscious call we have taken right from the beginning is that there's some portion of our budgets always allocated to brand marketing. And that portion is actually increasing with time. 

Roshan Kanesan: Really?

Anurag Kedia: Yes. So if you want to ensure that the cost of acquisition doesn't go up, your spend on brand marketing has to keep going up. And eventually, brand marketing spends going to be much, much higher than performance marketing. That's the eventual goal.

Roshan Kanesan: I guess when you are a new brand, you need to spend money on the branding part of the equation for the performance marketing to make sense or be efficient later on. But if you're already a big brand, then you can focus on the performance marketing. I think that explains a lot of the dichotomy we see in terms of like, oh, you know, branding is the way to go versus, oh no, performance marketing is only the way to go. So it really depends on where you are and what you're currently focused on. So thank you for sharing that with us. Pilgrim raised 20 million US dollars and earlier this year as at March 31st reported annual revenue at 9.6 million US dollars. Tell us a little bit about the plans for the $20 million in funding. 

Anurag Kedia: Yeah, so the plan is not to spend it.

Roshan Kanesan: Hahahaha…

Anurag Kedia: But that's not a lighter one. We will, a lighter vein, we will end up spending some of it. So like we were discussing about our offline channel, our physical distribution, that channel typically takes up some investments before it starts breaking even and churning back profitably. We are also setting up, you know, outlets for the brand. in malls, at airports, on high streets. At each outlet takes some investment for the physical structure to be made, the kiosk to be made, or the store to be made. So that will take up some investments. And on the brand side, we are making some investments. And the third piece is on the team expansion. So we have, over the last six to eight months, have had a very, a lot of senior people join the team. and that comes at a certain cost. So I think these are the three large markets where we will end up spending the money for offline distribution, for brand investments, and for team expansion, especially at the senior level.

Roshan Kanesan: I'm sure with that money being invested, you're also expecting growth to grow going forward as well. As I mentioned earlier, $9.6 million in annual revenue as at March 31st, or reported as at March 31st. Tell us a little bit about what revenue growth has been leading up to that point and what you expect revenue growth to look like going forward.

Anurag Kedia: So last financial year, we worked in India April to March. So that's why the revenues are reported on 31st March. So you're right, we closed at around 10 million US dollars last year. And the current financial year looks like we will do 30 million dollars. And on a run rate basis, if you look at the annual year, you started at a certain revenue run rate. But by the time you end the year, it will be much, much more. So the year after this, it should be at least a double of what we are projecting this year. So we should be at least at a 60 to 70 million US dollars in the subsequent year. We have been growing three to four times here in the past. And with scale, we still expect to kind of maintain at least a hundred percent growth in the future. 

Roshan Kanesan: So next year, 3x growth after that about 2x growth, I think more or less, if I've done my math correctly based on the fly here. you're expecting to hit 70 million USD in revenue in two years. That's an impressive number. And I'm sure there's more to go given how big the Indian market is. Do you expect to go beyond India anytime soon?

Anurag Kedia: We've already started partnering with some channel partners globally. So we are already present in the Middle East in a very small way. We have had some conversations with Russia and some conversations have just started happening in the Southeast Asian markets. So Middle East is already lived in a small manner and a few other parts of the world. I think another three to six months we will have presence.

Roshan Kanesan: Any talks with bringing into Malaysia?

Anurag Kedia: So there are one or two inbound conversations which are happening, but very happy to engage with more potential partners. And I'm sure you're sure the net calls to get there.

Roshan Kanesan: Sure. Anyone can drop us a line at inquiry at bfm.my if they want to get connected with Pilgrim. Anurag, as much as growth, that growth number sounds and the revenue number is great or at least expected to be great, the big question now is about profitability as well. And that's a question we're going to dive into after this last and final break. Folks I've been speaking with Anurag Kadia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian based direct to consumer skincare startup brand. I'm Roshan Kanesan. You're listening to Open for Business. We'll be back in just a bit. So keep it here to BFM 89.9, the Business Station. 

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 Roshan Kanesan: BFM 89.9, welcome back to Open for Business. I'm Roshan Khanesan and this morning I've been speaking with Anurag Khedia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based director consumer skincare startup brand. Earlier we talked about Among other things, what the $20 million in Series B funding will be utilized, as well as some of the growth trajectory ahead. Anurag is expecting 3x growth next year for the full year to be $30 million come March 31, 2024. Do I have my years correct? I think that's about right. And then the year after about $60-70 million in revenue. Anurag, I think I've more or less got those numbers correct. But the key question today is not just about growth but about profitability. So give us a sense for I guess the margins in this business and what's your timeline or pathway to profitability?

Anurag Kedia: So the gross margins are fairly healthy in the beauty category. Typically brands will make upwards of 65% of gross margin. In our case, we are upwards of 70% in terms of gross margin. But yes, There are also brands and companies which have burnt a fair bit of money. In our case, we've been very, very frugal like we were discussing. So our burn rate is, you know, on an yearly basis, we, uh, you know, the losses are less than $2 million. Uh, and that's the kind of, you know, burn rate, which we have fairly comfortable from a runway perspective.

Roshan Kanesan: Yeah. 20 million raised is enough for 10 years keeping the company afloat at this rate.

Anurag Kedia: Yes. At the current burn rate, yes. We have a runway of 10 years. But hopefully by the end of next nine to 12 months, we'll be profitable. And hence, you know, runway will stop being of concern at all. And we can just focus on, to be very focused on driving the business in a profitable moment. And that's, I think our investors and our board are also fairly aligned that even if you have to let go of some part of the growth at some point of time, it's OK. But building the partnerships in a very profitable manner is key to us. 

Roshan Kanesan: Partnerships have been mentioned a few times as a key way for you to grow going forward and I guess a key part of you hitting your 30 million next year and your 70, 60, 70 million the year after. Expand a little bit further on what you mean by partnerships.

Anurag Kedia: So partnerships are of all kinds, Roshan, right from, you know, R&D partnerships to manufacturing partnerships, to warehousing, to logistics. through channel partners who sell our products online, Amazon, Flipkart, Mica, Myntra, Purple. And now there is this new beast called quick commerce in India. I don't know if you're seeing that in Malaysia also. Quick commerce where you get products delivered in 10 minutes. Oh wow. Yeah. You order a product on the app and within 10 minutes, the product will reach you anywhere in the city. 

Roshan Kanesan: That is quite a, quite a guarantee. It also sounds a bit expensive, but I'm sure we'll touch on that another time. But yeah, so those are the kind of partnerships you're looking at overall. So really anything that can bring value to you at Pilgrim. Another thing that's really brought value to you and you mentioned this earlier, your board, your investors, you count Vertex Ventures, Fireside Ventures and the Narotam Sekhsaria family office as your long-standing partners. So aside from funding, which is I guess table stakes at this point, what else do you. Do these investors in your cap table bring to, I guess, well, the table?

Anurag Kedia: Yeah, so there are a couple of things I think we've been very fortunate to get support from our investors. One is, you know, when companies scale, what are the challenges companies will face? Can we preempt some of those? What are the pitfalls which we will discover two years from now, one year from now? Can we preempt some of those and build mechanisms to counter those challenges, the risks that the business will face today? That is one key role which the investors have played. Second, because many of them have done a lot of consumer investing, thinking through the brand, thinking through marketing initiatives, how to kind of scale the brand in a very frugal manner. That's the second part where we get support. Third is ecosystem connects. So when we have to reach out to other partners, potential partnerships, why we have some network of our own, our investors typically have much, much larger networks than they're able to open doors for us. to get connected to the right people in the ecosystem and get going from there. So these are the three kinds of primary supports. And yes, corporate governance is a given, where they also help us put in the right control measures to have corporate governance.

Roshan Kanesan: As we come to the close of this conversation, Arunag, maybe you can give us a sense of looking ahead. What do you see as the most likely kind of exit for this company? Is an IPO the main goal here, but M&A's also could be a very real option here as well. Talk to us about how you and the board are seeing this.
Anurag Kedia: So for Pilgrim, Roshan, I think M&A's not something we're very keen on. It's an option, but not something we're looking at right now. Exit is at least five, seven years, the reformers foreign investor perspective. Me and my co-founder, Gagan, we are quite happy running the business in the long term. So chances are it'll be an IPO story at some point of time. But we are not in a hurry even to do IPO because our investors have fairly long horizons. For the category, yes, we have seen a lot of M&A activity. So brands who want to see an early exit M&A is a definite option because IPO will require a certain size and scale of the company to get listed.

Roshan Kanesan: To wrap up, last question here, Anurag. What are the key goals for you and Pilgrim over the next five years?

Anurag Kedia: So our key goal is to reach out to more and more consumers and become the most loved beauty brand in the country. That's our fundamental belief. That's what we are working for. We get paid when the consumers are happy. So that's our fundamental goal. Then at the next level, there are other stakeholders at Pilgrim. The second most important stakeholders are our employees, team members who have joined us when they had the option of joining the larger company. So we want to create a lot of wealth for our team members across the organization. The third stakeholder is our investors. We want to generate a lot of returns for our investors. And the fourth stakeholder is the society at large. So what can we give back to the society apart from being environmentally sustainable? A lot more and there are a couple of initiatives in the pipeline. So we typically look at it in this order, that consumer first and then everything else follows. 

Roshan Kanesan: Wonderful. Anurag, it's been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much for your time.

Anurag Kedia: Thank you, Roshan, for having me. You know, very good conversation.

Roshan Kanesan: Folks, I've been speaking with Anurag Kedia. He's the co-founder of Pilgrim, an Indian-based direct-to-consumer skincare startup brand. I'm Roshan Kanesan. You're listening to Open for Business. Up ahead, we have Her Advantage, so keep it here to BFM 89.9, The Business Station. 

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