Krya – A Sustainable Consumer Product Startup [Interview]

Krya is a sustainable consumer products company started by two professionals (IIM alumnus) who earlier worked for companies like Marico/Henkel. The first product that has come out of Krya is Krya Pure Natural Detergent, a natural, fruit based detergent made by powdering certified organic Sapindus trifoliatus (areetha / reetha) [sans fillers, phosphates, bleaches, fragrance, colours etc].krya

The detergent has been designed to work in front and top loading machines as well as in hand wash. It cleans fabric just as well as an regular synthetic brand of detergent, and is also naturally antibacterial in action. While using detergent in a washing machine, you save a lot of water, as you would need to rinse the laundry less than when you use a synthetic detergent. Also, all the wash water from your machine (which is typically 100 litres or more per wash) can be used directly to water the plants in your garden.

The startup will be retailing the product via their website (Krya.in) in a week’s time. Here is an interview with Preethi Sukumaran and Srinivas Krishnaswamy, cofounders of Krya.

1. Your life prior to starting Krya. you worked at Marico/Henkel – what gap did you see in the market that you started Krya?

Krya has been in the making for nearly 4 years now. We had been closely examining every part of our life to make it more environmentally responsible, and were concerned at the lack of responsible alternatives across categories.

We also had a clear vision of how a great company should be run, and it increasingly became apparent to us that the only way to do this well, was to start our own company.

2. Essentially you are competing with biggies of the world. How do you plan for distribution/marketing?

The consumer product companies we see today have not built their brands around sustainability. They have strong legacy systems of ingredient sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, that are environmental time bombs ticking away. As a brand new company, we have future proofed our product design to be both sustainable and effective.

Our sustainability philosophy gives us a distinct point of difference from any regular large brand in any of our categories. This is over and above holistically superior product performance which we will establish over time for each of our products.So while we offer products in the same categories, our products are not comparable with any competing brand / product.

In the same way, we do not compete with legacy brands in the way they reach their consumers. Our marketing work is all about finding a meaningful connection between our philosophy and the consumer’s specific environmental concern.

Krya is primarily an ecommerce company, so all of our brand awareness initiatives are online. We use our blog, Facebook and Linked in to create awareness around the brand.Initially, a large part of our marketing work has been running our blog and our Facebook outpost. We write original articles that we feel have great value to our consumers, who then decide to give us the opportunity to interact with them.

We started our blog about 6 months before the launch of our product, and have written consistently on it on topics related to sustainable urban living. We have covered topics as varied as hybrid rice, common pesticides, to measuring the indoor air quality in our home. Through consistent quality writing on our blog, we have crossed more than 1000 unique visitors on our blog before selling our first product.

Face book has been useful for us to give us access to a slightly different set of consumers from our blog regulars. We use Facebook to keep our consumers updated on our work and progress; it is also an easy way to interact with and respond to specific queries.

3. Regarding your claim of “Impact on environment” – how do you quantify that?

We design our products following 4 principles:

1. Cradle to Cradle design – Every part of our product, including the product itself, packaging, resources used during product usage like water, and product residue, has been designed to be recycled or re-used. This minimizes wastage at every point in the product’s life cycle.

2. Minimal Carbon footprint – Our carbon footprint scorecard evaluates raw material sources, manufacturing process, transport choices, and consumer use and disposal

3. Use of natural ingredients – We extensively use natural ingredients close to their original state. This creates high value products for consumers, sustainable livelihoods for the producers and helps us maintain a lean and efficient manufacturing process

4. Vegan products – All our products are plant based and free from animal testing.

As an ongoing process, we have started building a database of studies in each of these areas, which will further help consumers engage with our brand.

For e.g.: We are working with washing machine manufacturers to quantify the water saved in a standard 5 kilogram wash load when using the Krya detergent. This is only 1 aspect of the overall environmental impact of the detergent.

4. Future plans?

We have many exciting products lined up this year. We start with our range of office stationery made of tree free paper, organic sustainable fair trade coffee, and hope to launch other products in the coming quarters like natural organic skin and hair care products, palm-oil free hand made soaps, a vegetable &fruit wash to remove surface pesticides and bacteria.

In the next one year, we hope to build a strong brand across our categories built around a terrific ecommerce user experience. We have an extremely strong pipeline of innovative products. We will continue to build our sophistication in inventory management, web 2.0 tools and customer service.

Our goal is to build a fantastic company which is a joy to work in. We hope to attract people whose principles and passions are similar to our company.

5. Isn’t this a crazy idea? That is to compete with biggies based on a product ingredient (and its impact which is a soft positioning statement)?

Every crazy idea looks like a sure win in hindsight – starting with Michael Faraday’s demonstration of electricity.

Everyone we interact with today has atleast one concern relating to the environment – pesticides, abuse of plastics, fossil fuels, water pollution, deforestation, animal rights or the dwindling wildlife population. These concerns have hit them at a very personal level affecting their current quality of life. 

To consumers, going green, not just makes environment sense, it also makes human sense and has a lasting effect on the quality of their life and helps them leave behind a better world. This attitude is not restricted to a narrow group and transcends all age groups, income levels and geographies.

Consumers are looking to companies to shoulder more responsibility and proactively give them options rather than react in hindsight with an ill thought out gesture.

We must remember what Henry Ford said – “If I listened closely to the consumer, I would have to give them a faster horse”. By this I mean, that we cannot expect consumers to think of the complete perfect product that companies can make. We have to read these signs and take a leap of faith.

Besides, doing business has 2 parts to it – doing well and doing good. We believe that we can do well by doing good.

An interesting concept. Do keep a track of Krya when it launches.

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