WomenPower 13: Naiyya Saggi started BabyChakra to tap into the $20 billion Childcare market

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Parenting can be tough. Each child is unique in his or her own way.  Every parent wants what’s best for their child. But how does one ensure the right choice? How a parent can provide a healthy living environment for their child?

Assessing this gap in the market, Naiyya Saggi started BabyChakra with a family friend in 2015 to connect parents to services and products every child needs.

BabyChakra has become India’s most loved and trusted platform to discover the right information on maternity and childcare. It connects parents with infertility experts, nutritionists, physiotherapists, playschools and also sells baby products. The startup has partnered with 17,000 service providers.

“Chakra represents a circle, and as you think about a life cycle or a circle of care we wanted a name that shows the circle of services that surrounds families,” says Naiyya about the concept behind the name BabyChakra.

Prior to starting BabyChakra, Naiyya worked at McKinsey where she developed a passion for healthcare and education. She has a degree in law. Naiyya also worked for the Gates Foundation for developing a child nutrition strategy for India. When she was in Harvard Business School, she was involved in a project on scaling healthcare interventions. After her studies, she worked at Bridgespan Group in Boston.

During her time at Harvard Business School in 2010, she was already playing with tonnes of ideas. While working at McKinsey, she worked on a concept called Legal Frat aimed to connect potential clients to a community of lawyers.

The idea, however, failed.

Naiyya’s second idea was called College Jao which she developed with a bunch of her Harvard’s batchmates. College Jao was meant to solve the availability and asymmetry of information around choices of college for young students in India as well as the globe.

BayChakra was the third idea that she was thinking of.

Naiyya was well-equipped with business skills but she lacked market research and hence, she decided to understand the exact needs of and the gaps in the market.

While starting the company, she spoke to 600 mothers in India to understand the problems they face. Some faced problems like the inability to breastfeed their children. Naiyya solved their problem by adding a section about breastfeeding. BabyChakra also helped them learn about lactation consultants and avail professional help.

Every entrepreneur faces challenges. And Naiyaa was no different. Finding the right talent was the mainframe issue that she faced during her initial days.

When she began approaching investors to raise funds for her startup, they asked her when she plans to start a family because they wanted to know whether Naiyya wanted to take time off. She usually walked out of these meetings.

But, eventually, she raised funds from investors. BabyChakra has raised five rounds of funding.

In June 2015, the startup raised ₹4.2 crores in seed funding from Mumbai Angels and Singapore Angel Network. Next to that in February 2016, it raised an undisclosed amount from Artha India Ventures and Microsoft Accelerator Mumbai. The startup raised an undisclosed amount in series A funding from RoundGlass Partners in October 2016. Two-years back in November 2017, BabyChakra raised ₹35 lakhs as Non-equity Assistance from Google Launchpad Accelerator.

The latest Series B funding was raised in September 2018 from multiple investors including RaviShankar B, Rajesh Sehgal, Mark Mobius, Maninder Gulati, Mandar Vaidya, Gideon Marks, Eitan Toledo, Bharat Rawla, Arihant Patni and existing investor Artha India Ventures.

Naiyya advises, “Don’t fundraise because it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do. It is just a building block to your business: not a goal. Bootstrap as much as possible and learn to be lean. Once you fundraise, you are accountable to not just yourself, your consumers and your team but an additional set of partners: your investors.”

BabyChakra is not another service provider. It helps parents to connect with each other and discuss their issues and experiences. The startup is working towards organizing a series of offline events related to child nutrition, breastfeeding and other maternal problems across the country to bring in an impact.

In the near future, Naiyya plans to introduce machine learning and natural language processing to reach millions of parents in a more personalized way and in a context that is relevant to their exact needs, geography, language, and other socio-economic factors.

BabyChakra has more than 5 lakh registered users who log in every month. Using the latest funding, the startup will penetrate into more regions in India and increase the userbase. Naiyya is aiming to implement 10 regional languages to increase its userbase 5-10 times and touch 1.5 crores by the end of this fiscal.

Naiyya said, “Today, we serve a pressing need for India. More than 70% of our users are families in tier 2 and tier 3 towns. They use regional languages, video and voice to make critical health and wellness decisions for mothers and children.”

The maternity-young child segment is worth ₹1,40,000 crores. However, it highly unorganized and unregulated. Industry experts say that the Indian parenting sector is not an easy market to crack. More than 90% of the market is dominated by offline baby product retailers.

However, the sector has seen a massive change in the last couple of years due to higher internet penetration. The tradition of the joint family is slowly being overtaken by nuclear families which have increased the disposable income of the middle class significantly. Parents no longer want to lean on their circle of friends and family and local pediatricians for advice and suggestions. More parents are now willing to spend on premium quality products for their children.

And, BabyChakra has been at the forefront in this segment.

So, what are your thoughts on this story?
Tell us in the comments.

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Jyostsna Upadhyaya
Jyostsna is the correspondent for the category "Startup Stories"and "Womenpreneur". She has been writing for 7 years.

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