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2013-10-08

Succeed With Unique Business Idea

Richfeel, a well known name amongst the international hair science community, is the largest trichology clinic chain in the world.

Richfeel has over 55 clinics across India and developed technologies like HairDX, TST+, and HTMA in the field of trichology. In an interaction with SMEntrepreneur Dr Apoorva Shah, Founder, Richfeel, shares his entrepreneurial journey and future plans.

 

What motivated you to start this unique business idea of trichology?

I come from a family of doctors, and my father was a reputed physician. So the inclination to be a doctor was there from the beginning. I want do something different from what was already available. When I saw Dr Sonal with long lustrous hair on the first day of my college and I fell in love with her, and this made me take the final decision that I wanted to be a super specialist of hair.  Along with our love, our fondness for medicine and the study of hair also grew. We jointly manufactured and marketed a hair tonic which popularly came to be known as Dr Shah’s tonic all over Mumbai. In the first few months itself, it became a rage.

 

How did you arrange initial funding? What was your main source of funding?

Our initial funding came from our own capital and borrowings from friends and family. Around a year back we also got funded by Fulcrum Ventures, which is a venture capital firm based out of Chennai.

 

As a start-up, what were your main challenges?

The main challenges were:

  • Lack of customer education – Even today, we continue to invest heavily in educating our customers.
  • Lack of financial resources – We had a hard time in the initial days when even banks refused to fund us since nobody had heard about trichology.
  • Myths and wrong perceptions – Several fly by night operators try to mislead customers by making fake claims and miraculous results, this hurts the entire industry.

 

What is the current state of Indian hair restoration market? What are the growth factors?

Trichology or the medical hair care market is relatively new but growing at a very high rate. Our internal guesstimates suggest the market size to be around 500 to 700 crore but growing in high double digits. Growing awareness and the need to look good and feel confident are the main growth factors.

 

What type of technologies has been introduced by Richfeel so far?

Richfeel has been a pioneer in introducing new solutions and technologies each targeted at a specific hair and scalp problem. We have Richfeel TST+ for hair fall, Richfeel Anagrow for hair thinning, Hair Dx for understanding the genetic reasons for baldness, HTMA for measurement of trace elements in the body, Aesthetic Hair Implants for early stages of balding and Swiss lace derma base for irreversible late stage of balding. We are the only brand in the country which offers solution for all hair and scalp problems under one roof.

 

When and why did you initiate franchising?

We initiated franchising a few years back when we realised that franchisees would help us with local know how and also help reach out to millions of Indians faster, who do not have access to scientific hair care.

 

What are your future plans?

We hope to have 100+ clinics in the next three years and 250 mini clinics in the next five years. Mini clinics would be a new division that would cater to Tier 3 and 4 towns where we are not able to serve right now. We intend to do an IPO in three to four years time. The number of products might not increase significantly; however, we do expect to launch at least 1 new service every year.

 

What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

Strive to be the best in whatever you do and success will follow you.

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