*This is not a sponsored post
Gone are the days when diapering and baby care was restricted to women of the house. Krishnan and men like him are breaking all the stereotypes. Motherhood brings a lot of changes, but for Krishnan fatherhood changed the course of his life; he introduced Bumberry to Indian market when there were barely any players, since then the industry has grown manifolds and so has Bumberry. Let us acquaint ourselves better with this young entrepreneur and the wonderfully loved brand that Bumberry has become.
NJM Please tell us more about yourself and your family.
KK I am Kutti Krishnan, Aged 37, educator by profession. I recently took to entrepreneurship. My family comprises of my wife Soumya who is an MBA by qualification and my son Siddharth who is 6 years, with whom I turned an entrepreneur. I did my computer science degree and worked for about 1 year in IT industry before my 2 year MBA program and further 10 long years of management education service, working with various schools either as a teaching assistant or as a teacher in management.
NJM Bumberry is one of the first few CD brands of India; how did the idea of bumberry occur to you?
KK Motivation source was Lekshmy my sister who was in the US then. She brought a couple of cloth diapers for my son in 2012, when he was about 1+ years. We started using the US branded pocket type diapers for him. Both Soumya and I were happy about the experience and Siddh was also quite fine in it. It struck my head as a marketing teacher when I teach my classes about new product adoptions and diffusion of innovations. I thought cloth diapers is a great idea to do that and I wanted to start experimenting with it, marketing about its adoption as ‘reusable diaper’. Being a green volunteer at ISB Hyderabad, I was already into the area of sustainability, especially the documentary “HOME” by Yann Arthus Bertrand in 2009 “home” made me quite conscious about the need of sustainable development projects in a big way.
Thanks to my wife too as she equally believed in the idea and supported whole heartedly in this venture. We registered a proprietorship firm and sourced a US brand at a very thin margin to market in Lulu Fashion store in Cochin; then it was the largest mall in India having the largest footfalls ever. It was a very thin margin that was available for me to share with Lulu. I gave away most of the margin share and my business was loss making from day 1. I must have visited multiple times to convince Lulu purchasing team. We started selling these US brand Pocket diapers in Lulu at a price point of 1355Rs, which was of course selling at a loss for me. However, later both Lulu people and I were surprised by the take-off of a diaper at Rs.1355 then! We were getting reorders in three weeks. This was bringing happiness as a new idea was accepted immediately by mothers. However, it did not last too long, the USD-INR exchange rates in July-August 2013, were quite high and the distributor was forced to increase the per piece price to Rs.1700 to be profitable and it suddenly impacted the market demand. I had to stop buying it from the whole-seller distributor because of the increased prices.
I measured the market pulse for willingness to pay for various price points for the same product and naturally as Indian value buyers we demand something always ‘worth the price’, at the equation of VALUE = BENEFITS / COST. You can either increase the benefits or reduce cost for the customer’s value to increase.
It took us about two months’ time, after talking to multiple factories in China, Indonesia, Malysia and the USA, I found the most commitment from one supplier factory in China in terms of great quality focus that met the US standards needs and still available at a cost price which I could think of for Indian markets. By October 2013, we launched Bumberry on Amazon India and also in Lulu Fashion store. We kept extending the placements in many more platforms and stores. Firstcry.com contacted us in early 2014 to sell Bumberry on their platform having recognised the potential of the brand. Firstcry.com eventually became very big over a short time period and it is a great inspiration story to listen to. Bumberry was the first reusable cloth diaper brand to get listed on Amazon India, Flipkart and Firstcry.com.
NJM What did you want to become as a kid?
KK As an LP school student, I dreamt of becoming a scientist but moved away from it over the time.
During my degree course, I felt that I should do something based on ecommerce venture to market coconut shell-based crafts globally. I tried but capital constraints did not allow me to do it. The one other idea that remained in my head was that of a Journalist who will continue to push for progress, which I feel I will still do someday. During my ISB days, I was fascinated with two things; Lead India 2020, which is a human values training project in schools. If you had read Dr.Kalam’s books, he talked about Dr.Sudarshan Acharya who has a PhD in Human values and put work in the area based out of Hyderabad. There was a time when I completely switched my stay to a school where Acharya and the whole team worked hard to reach to more school students across Andhra Pradesh.
I got a volunteer recognition memento from Dr. Kalam back in 2010. I also had social impact on my head and initiated a skilling project based in Hyderabad but could not pursue further as all three of us who initiated it could not be together in one place and work for it.
NJM What was life before Bumberry for you?
KK As a mentor, teacher and a wanderer. Less structured but quite enthusiastic type.
NJM The cloth diapering market is picking up with many Indian brands coming into the picture, what do you feel about it?
KK It’s quite wonderful that from nowhere when cloth diapering builds up as a category in itself for a great cause, it’s a great feel you know. Let many more entrepreneurs enter and let the category grow up. Any business will have to go through its hardships and timely business model changes. Bumberry also is currently doing its best to suit the time and demand of the market. Every cloth diaper sold will reduce the load on environment due to disposable diapers. One of our recent projects launched is looking at quality standards not just from a regulatory need and compliance point of view, but one that considers it as a benchmarking tool to innovate for enhancing comfort to the baby in terms of fibres, design and new product introduction to meet specific sub needs for diapering. At the same time, as a baby product manufacturer, every one shall put baby as their first focus in marketing any product. The idea of hurried selling of low priced inferior goods through online platforms is an idea that we need to rethink on when it comes to baby products. I would request my fellow marketers of cloth diapering to avoid those practices & stand together for a progressive change by keeping baby on top of our mind.
NJM What do you think you would be doing, if you weren’t doing this (making and selling Cloth diapers)?
KK Teaching management. Mentoring as many entrepreneurs as I can. Writing articles. Teaching children about basic living and may be Facebook activism!
NJM Not all the start-ups succeed, what would you attribute your success to?
KK Do you think I am already successful? Am not sure. Ask my customers please. If they agree, I will be happy about it.
I also express my sincere thanks to the Reusable Cloth Diapering Mothers from years 2013, 2014 and 2015, who came to Bumberry with confidence and spread good words around to inspire many more people to adopt to cloth diapering from all over India.
So, today on behalf of my entire team, I thank all those mothers out there, whose kids are mostly out of diapers now, who were the early adopters of this new idea of One Size Reusable Diapers. As Gandhiji said; “Our customers are doing a favour to us and not the other way round”!
NJM What is that one thing you feel you could have done better when you started Bumberry?
KK I feel we should have had our own unique designs for Bumberry from the beginning.
NJM How would you define your leadership style?
KK Covert leader with critical points focused, with a vision! We have a seven member employee team who cares for each other at work.
NJM How does it feel to be in an industry that is mainly dominated by females?
KK It is rather a great thing as mom entrepreneurship is happening for the babies and for the planet from a mom. What a beautiful idea it is. Right?
Our vision however, is to reach out to many more mothers across India and naturally to do all that facilitates the growth as the next mass retail brand, where Bumberry is widely available across the nation and perceived as a Value (worth) brand and not a high priced brand. Our indigenous manufacturing gives us a lot of cost reduction opportunities. We would like to pass that extra cost savings to our believer mothers. We had launched an idea called “Mothers for Tomorrow” as a community of mothers who would love to contribute to any sustainable living idea in baby and child care, not just from cloth diapering experience point of view. We would appreciate more mothers to join this effort and inspire many more people around. Recently, we also have initiated a Bumberry Angels program that looks for mothers and communities to partner in our marketing initiatives.
NJM Are there going to be any more additions in Bumberry productline? If yes, what are those?
KK Yes. AIOs (All in One types) are coming. Organics are also going to be one more line. We also launched big size cloth diaper for incontinence needs for adults recently.
NJM What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
KK Finding money!
NJM How do you test the functionality of your newly designed products?
KK We have our own tests first. In the initial stages both Soumya and I did it with our son Siddharth and also gave to my sisters to test on my nieces and nephews. We as a team of seven people here at Bumberry perform the primary initial tests of absorption and wetness etc. Our close customer mothers who voluntarily help us in sharing their feedback, we give them free samples and do it. Absorption, fitness and wetness are the three things that define comfort for the initial tests. Scientifically we have done our testing with the Ministry of Textiles’ (Govt of India) Textile Committee laboratory. Recently we also initiated relevant certification projects with a globally approved lab to meet the US market standards.
NJM What are your thoughts about Diapering as a whole and what advice do you have for parents of kids in diapering age?
KK The birth right of the baby is to be ‘diaper free’ and diapering is not a solution for the baby and is therefore a convenience solution for us; mothers and fathers!. Now, you reflect upon disposable diapering as an idea and cloth diaper as a great alternative and Bumberry as a strong choice to convince everyone around you. Way back in 2013, it was tougher to communicate this. Our challenge was to talk more about the cloth diapering idea than Bumberry!!
We developed a diaper changing time guideline as a good reference source for mothers to observe urination patterns and approximate diapering time depending upon the models. This is printed on each product package of Bumberry. We tell every mother the fact that the primary functionality of a diaper is urine absorption. This is confirmed by the Environmental agency UK, in their behavioural experiments with babies wearing diapers that more than 82% of the time a diaper addresses the needs of just urine absorption. Our primary inspirational question have been this: “Why do you want to throw away a non-degradable disposable diaper out to the environment every 5-6 hrs time?”. Our whole marketing story is not different when compared to any brands of reusable cloth diapers of the world, in communicating this fact to mothers, which directly benefits our planet too. We also came across a study by the American Academy of Paediatrics recommending to restrict the diapering time to six hours maximum. So here is where we developed this idea of “#ConsciousDiapering” as a theme to communicate the practices of diapering that will primarily help baby; the user.
NJM One life mantra that you would like your son/daughter to follow through life.
KK To be conscious about other (micro and macro) organisms while you are conscious about your own stuff!
NJM What is that one thing you would like to advice to every aspiring entrepreneur?
KK Push your own limits every time!
Entrepreneurship is all about ‘the third time thought’. First time thought gives you an exciting idea. Second time is about the risk consciousness and alertness. Now you have to weigh both and move on to the third time because you have to press the button! Doing nothing is never an option for entrepreneurs but can be a sweet option for a business manager! You are still not a business man! Come-on entrepreneur… plunge into it, commit mistakes early so that you are much more learnt and aware no sooner than later to inspire many more people! For me entrepreneurship is basically defined in this core idea of “taking initiatives”! Come on you can do it!
NJM Thank you KK for your time and for taking us through your life and the Bumberry story, this is indeed inspiring.
Have you checked out the ClothDiapering posts on notjust mommying yet? click Here to know all about cloth diapering