Fireside Ventures is an early-stage investment platform for consumer brands, and has invested in an array of well-known brands across food and beverages, beauty and personal care, lifestyle, education, and grooming. From prototyping and consumer testing to greater need for mentorship, they understand the highly specific needs of consumer startups. Kanwaljit Singh – Founder & Managing Partner at Fireside Ventures – writes about the ongoing partnership with the Amazon Global Selling Propel Accelerator (AGSPA) program and why this is the greatest decade for startups in the consumer products space.
One of the biggest phenomena we’ve witnessed over the last few years is the coming of age of digital-first brands: brands that have digital in their DNA and rely extensively on digital channels for everything from brand building, engaging with digital media channels, e-commerce, etc. At Fireside Ventures, for example, we’ve had the opportunity to observe and participate in the spectacular success of brands such as Mamaearth, boAt, Kapiva, Slurrp Farm, Wellbeing Nutrition, and more at close quarters.
One major driver for the success of these brands has been the dramatic shift in the retail ecosystem.
One major driver for the success of these brands has been the dramatic shift in the retail ecosystem. This shift has come about as a result of the confluence of trends in digital engagement and distribution channels as well as customers acceptance of these trends, further bolstered by a fundamental shift towards online during the last two years.
Traditionally, the number of organized brands in India has always been low. This is true across categories such as food and beverages, personal care, home, etc. While the need for building strong brands was well understood, the cost of building a brand was quite high, which meant that brands needed to invest much more time and resources to achieve scale and success.
The digital shift
Earlier, engagement channels were limited to mass media such as TV and print, which were inherently expensive and did not lend themselves well to customized outreach. Then there was the complexity of distributing these brands to numerous mom-and-pop stores to make them accessible to customers.
That has changed now as brands have access to a multitude of social channels to engage their customers in a more targeted manner. The rapid adoption of ecommerce as well as the emergence of new models and shopping behaviours has helped create new opportunities.
For instance, if you can deliver a product in 10-15 minutes, there is an opportunity to now imagine product creation for a completely new set of offerings. Think fresh and healthy snacks, ice creams and similar perishable products that cannot be serviced by traditional e-commerce models but are now possible to envision thanks to quick delivery models.
Equally important, we are seeing the emergence of new age, digital-native Gen Z customers who are in tune with global trends and only consume information digitally. They are far more willing to engage with brands and products via digital channels, including distribution channels provided by marketplaces like Amazon.
Digital brands that launch today will benefit tremendously from this virtuous cycle, which can help shrink launch timelines significantly.
Digital brands that launch today will benefit tremendously from this virtuous cycle, which can help shrink launch timelines significantly. For instance, with the plethora of plug and play tools that can help new brands launch, engage, and distribute efficiently, a D2C brand founder can potentially launch a new brand in less than two days.
This opportunity cuts across the entire basket, whether we talk about interesting ideas in mainstream FMCG or the growing interest in wellness - a theme that runs across several of our popular brands such as Wellbeing Nutrition, Slurrp Farm, or Sarva Yoga.
The global opportunity and the India advantage
With initiatives such as the Amazon Global Selling Propel Accelerator program, there is an excellent opportunity for brands to leverage their Indian identity to achieve global growth: whether you are a brand marketing Indian produce such as coffee, spices, millets, or a brand that leverages ancient Indian knowledge such as Yoga or Ayurveda, or even specific categories such as handicrafts that leverage India’s rich cultural heritage.
This program enables Indian businesses to accelerate their growth with the right resources, mentorship, and a platform to go global. At Fireside Ventures, we’re happy to play a part in providing mentorship and access to promising brands that want to build from India for the world.
Amazon provides a great opportunity as a starting point for brands to discover new markets and learn about local preferences, distribution, and regulatory aspects. Beyond selling, Amazon also provides valuable learning with respect to global best practices around areas such as sustainability and building ecosystems.
With willing customers, a conducive ecosystem, and a wealth of learning opportunities, it is without doubt the greatest decade to build a D2C brand from India.
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