Alum Ventures: Avataar Skincare Technologies – Saumya Misra, PGP 2015

Saumya Misra, the founder of Avataar Skincare Technologies, is an inspiring entrepreneur who has made a mark in the skincare industry. Her journey from the corporate world to entrepreneurship was not an easy one, but it was fueled by her passion and determination to make a difference. Saumya’s experience on Shark Tank India Season 3 was a game-changer for her business, instantly making Avataar Skincare a household name in the industry. Despite facing criticism, Saumya remained candid and honest, and the positive impact on her business speaks for itself. With a predominantly women-led team, Saumya understands the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and is dedicated to breaking stereotypes in the skincare industry. Her journey is a testament to the fact that with determination and the right support, women can achieve anything they set their minds to.

Being on the show was an incredible opportunity for us. The media exposure instantly made us a household name in the skincare industry. I was completely candid on the show, just as I am in real life, being honest about our company, our goals, and our direction. While I received some criticism for this, every opportunity has its pros and cons. Before Shark Tank, we were just a startup, but now we’re recognized as a brand, thanks to the positive publicity. It was an amazing learning experience. I learned that perspectives can vary based on language and gestures. Despite the criticism, I have received tremendous support from friends and family, which has been my greatest strength. The business has also benefited, attracting new team members and expanding our client base, who recognize our passion and honesty. In the end, receiving support and funding from two Sharks made it a complete win-win for us. Although criticism can be tough, the positive impact on the business speaks for itself. We now have people eager to join our team, recognizing our passion and honesty.

I always wanted to start something of my own, but life often takes us on unexpected journeys before we reach our destination. My journey began in the corporate world, where I gained valuable experience in problem-solving and strategizing over half a decade. However, the urge to pursue my venture gradually grew stronger.

As I explored ideas around unresolved problems with potential market opportunities, I realized the solution was closer to home than anticipated. I had struggled with severe acne, especially during my MBA days at IIMB. The struggle with acne affected my self-image and confidence. Using my first stipend check from Bain, I sought treatment for my skin issues at various skincare clinics. However, I found the system highly disorganized, with dynamic pricing and no standardized quality assessment.

After finally finding effective treatment from a dermatologist in my hometown, Bhopal, I realized that while effective technology existed, customers lacked sufficient information to make informed choices. This realization inspired me to start Avataar Skincare – an honest, one-stop solution for various skin troubles.

By then, I had relocated to Delhi, a city with over 3000 skincare clinics, marking the beginning of my research journey in the field. I decided to quit my job and took up a role at a skincare clinic. This experience provided me with insights from both ends of the spectrum – as a client seeking treatment and as a service provider offering solutions. It was an enriching experience that laid the foundation for what Avataar is today.

Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship was a significant decision for me, one that I didn’t take lightly. It wasn’t easy to leave behind the comfort and security of a steady paycheck. It took almost a year of careful consideration before I finally made the leap.

With an MBA from IIMB, I approached the decision analytically, considering numbers and figures. As an entrepreneur, I knew I needed to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, so I conducted thorough market research. What I found was that the skincare industry was relatively untapped, with enormous growth potential.

Despite the risks involved, I felt confident in my decision. I had saved up some emergency funds, and I left my corporate job on good terms, keeping the door open for a potential return if needed.

Financial security was paramount, so I meticulously planned my finances, ensuring a safety net for my family through strategic investments.

After a year of planning and preparation, I finally took the plunge and founded Avataar Skincare, confident in the potential for success in the burgeoning market.

Both realms offer unique experiences, each with its own set of advantages and challenges. The thrill of entrepreneurship is unparalleled—it’s like watching something grow from nothing, nurtured with your own sweat and blood. Witnessing your venture blossom, whether in terms of revenue, clients, reviews, or team size, provides an adrenaline rush like no other. The only feeling that comes close, in my experience, is becoming a mother. However, the lows in entrepreneurship can be much harsher than those experienced in a corporate environment. A bad day at work or a disagreement in a corporate setting is manageable, but the lows of entrepreneurship can hit hard. Whether it’s financial constraints affecting your runway, the responsibility of employees depending on you, a failed marketing campaign, or unsuccessful business decisions, the impact is deeply felt when you’re running the show. Despite these challenges, I believe everyone should try their hand at entrepreneurship. The learnings and experiences gained on this journey are truly rewarding and life-changing. Just hold onto your confidence in your idea and your resilience to see it through.

At Avataar, we have a predominantly women-led team, so within the company, gender-related issues are not a significant concern. However, as women entrepreneurs, we do face challenges. Whether it’s raising funds or hiring senior personnel, we encounter obstacles. Sometimes, our passion is mistaken for aggression, and there’s a tendency to generalize women’s behavior and presentation. Any deviation from the norm is often misunderstood and not seen positively. There’s a misconception that women lack analytical and business acumen, often attributed to the belief that women think from their hearts. Additionally, as a solo founder, women entrepreneurs often face the assumption from VCs that the only potential co-founder they could have is their spouse. This assumption stems from the belief that family obligations may limit a woman’s ambition, especially since, as a mother, she is often seen as the primary caregiver. While perspectives are slowly changing for the better, there’s still progress to be made.

As women, we often face societal pressures to prioritize marriage, starting a family, and being the primary caregiver. There’s this myth that we have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling family life. However, I believe women can have it all. We are inherently equipped with superpowers, capable of balancing a thriving career and a happy, healthy family life. It’s all about finding the right support system. Just as we naturally support the men in our lives, we can create an ecosystem that supports our own needs, enabling us to achieve everything we desire. So, my message to all aspiring women entrepreneurs is this: don’t let societal norms limit your dreams. With determination and the right support, you truly can have it all.

I had many memorable experiences at IIMB. It felt like a second home to me for two years, and it played a significant role in shaping who I am today. It was during my time at IIMB that I developed my business acumen, and the idea for Avataar Skincare was conceived there. Interestingly, I also met my husband for the first time on campus. Although he wasn’t from IIM Bangalore, the institute was where our journey began. I must say, my most important journeys and relationships have all originated at IIMB, making it hold a very special place in my heart.

We have several expansion plans for Avataar. Our goal is to become the go-to destination for all skincare needs, ensuring accessibility for everyone. We are in the process of hiring doctors and skin specialists to provide the best skincare solutions to our clients. Additionally, we have several new products in the pipeline that we are excited to launch soon.

Expanding to more cities is also a priority for us, as we want to make skincare solutions available to everyone, right in the comfort of their homes while respecting their privacy.

You can visit links to Saumya Profile or Avataar Skincare to know more..