It is a very well-known fact that the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) are the hotbeds of innovation. What is, however, not widely known is that buddies started some of the biggest companies coming out of IITs. There is a long tail of startups that struck gold due to the enduring friendship of their founders.
Venture beyond the pale to empower women
One such beautiful example is Sanfe – a startup focussed on female hygiene products. It was started in 2018 by two IIT-Delhi friends and roommates, Archit Aggarwal and Harry Sehrawat, while still in the third year of their graduation.
Their ‘Eureka’ moment came after observing a few female friends complain about various hygiene-related issues during their menstrual cycle or while using public toilets. The existing solutions were either not well suited for the Indian conditions, or they were very exorbitantly priced.
With the noble mission of empowering the lives of women across the world and making their lives simpler, Sanfe was incubated with the support of IIT Delhi’s faculty.
Their current portfolio constitutes innovative female hygiene products such as stand-and-pee devices, organic sanitary pads, menstrual cups and pain relief roll-ons, intimate care products, and panty liners.
When camaraderie revved up global ambitions
Earlier this year, Sanfe closed a pre-series A funding round of over USD 1.1 Million, led by marquee investors such as SucSEED Venture Partners, Elixir Pharma, Titan Capital, and BIRAC.
The founders have aggressive plans for the future. They plan to expand their presence across leading offline and online retail platforms. While the Sanfe product portfolio is already available in few international markets such as the US, Kenya, and Nepal, Aggarwal and Sehrawat have set their eyes on expanding to Europe and other key African markets in the next stage. They will also ramp up their existing team to focus on product R&D along with marketing.
Friendship helped forge a successful partnership
Working with friends can be nerve-wracking at times as the boundaries of professional and personal lives flounder. What is the best way to cope with this?
According to Aggarwal, there have been clashes at times, but they would rather call it a ‘difference of opinion.’ Sehrawat quips that there are bound to be differences when you are working towards a common goal but with different working styles. In this scenario, it is pertinent to be appreciative of the other person’s perspective too.
In fact, both agree that being together helps them feed off each other’s passion.
For those who are planning to start a new venture, the young Sanfe co-founders share some valuable tips. Aggarwal says it is important to start early, fail fast, and take the learnings with you on the next step. Sehrawat adds that creating fundamental processes early on helps in relinquishing certain business operations quickly when you are scaling rapidly.
On Friendship day, both share their favourite song or quote that defines their immutable friendship. While Aggarwal vouches for ‘Atrangi Yaari’ from the Bollywood movie Wazir, Sehrawat recollects ‘I’ll be there for you” by The Rembrandts. He laughs off by adding his favourite quote, “Best friends don’t care if your house is clean. They care if you have wine.”
Someone has rightly said that there are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that become family!