Lucknow-based Aura offers more than 11 hygiene liquid solutions for homes and offices and aims to capture a small pie of the growing industry.
Traditionally, we have been washing our hands with bar soaps. But now, liquid soap is becoming a more attractive alternative due to various reasons.
While the concept of hygiene is constantly graduating in India, many products have been introduced to the market off late.
With an aim to provide liquid cleaning solutions for homes and offices, Aura Enterprises was started by Paramjeet Kaur and her husband Pradeep Singh in Lucknow on February 19, 2016.
Paramjeet started the company as she wanted to offer a product that was a basic necessity in every household as well as something that could be produced with the help of limited capital.
Aura’s product line includes liquid solutions for hard and soft surfaces as well as for hand wash and operates under the brand Marlin.
Paramjeet Kaur (35) earlier worked with various organisations in the finance and insurance sector. She worked with the Bank of Baroda for more than six years before she quit her job in 2014 to start her own business.
While at home, Paramjeet decided to come up with something on her own and did a lot of brainstorming along with her husband and explored business ideas. After a lot of research, the couple decided to manufacture liquid hand wash.
Paramjeet stopped her business production for some time in between to experiment with her products and then re-launched her brand in the late 2017.
Initially, Paramjeet invested her personal savings of around Rs 2 lakh into the business. She rented two rooms near her house and started off with the manual production and packaging.
The duo launched about five products in the beginning - a liquid handwash, a toilet cleaner, a floor cleaner, a glass cleaner and an antiseptic liquid for home and office use.
In due course of time, they expanded the type and variety of the products and introduced new varieties with different aromas. Now, Aura Enterprises has more than 11 products available in the market.
Paramjeet took help from the state government at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development in Kanpur and also underwent training at the State MSME Department in Lucknow. She did extensive research on all the different liquid soap brands available in the market. She travelled to Delhi and other cities to do the groundwork and to know about the types of equipment used to manufacture such products and also met people involved in similar businesses and learnt from their experiences and mistakes.
Paramjeet says, “My ambition is to make my brand as successful and as trustworthy as the Dettol brand in India. For me, Dettol products set the highest benchmark in terms of quality and we are striving to achieve that for now.”
“Our products stand out in the market as they are extremely economical. As compared to other brands, our rates are similar, but we provide more quantity in our packages,” she explains. She says, the chemicals used in the products are of top quality and are imported from Germany.
Paramjeet adds, “All the products are rectified and checked in terms of their chemical composition, which is exactly at the set level and there is no compromise on the quality as the products are certified by ISO mark.”
She says, “Opening up a manufacturing plant and supplying the products to the market is very easy. But your brand will see real success only when the customers purchase the products and come back again to shop for more.”
Aura's products are available in local grocery stores all over Uttar Pradesh as well as at the Family Bazaars and government canteens of the Uttar Pradesh Government Employee Welfare Corporation.
“By far, the customer’s response has been overwhelming and the demand for the products are increasing day by day,” she adds.
She explains, “It was extremely difficult as I had no prior experience or training in the production of health and hygiene products. It took me almost a year to get properly trained, to understand the intricacies and nitty-gritties to make the product. I read many books,articles, contacted several people, conducted surveys and struggled really hard to get the basic information.”
Paramjeet says she faced a lot of problems during the production phase. She says, “The government representatives did not brief me well about the production as they had similar factories running around the city and ours could have been a natural competition, so they were hesitant. Nobody was openly willing to help us with the tricks of the trade.”
She says, “Many a times, my products went to complete waste as they missed a 0.01 percent mark from the prescribed standards, and the chemicals would react and nothing could be done except to dump them.”
But Paramjeet did not lose hope and says that initial failures were really important. “I would not have been able to experiment with my products if I didn’t practice enough and I learnt something from all my failed attempts.”
She also adds that the chemicals she imports from Germany are highly expensive because of its superior quality and buying those along with the transportation and other costs becomes very difficult because of limited availability of the capital.
Paramjeet wishes to expand her business in the coming years and wants to set up her own manufacturing unit. She says, “If the government allots land on lease for industrial purposes on a subsidised rate to us, it will be very beneficial for our business.”
Paramjeet has a word of advice for the women entrepreneurs, she says, “Nowadays, anybody can invest and start a business. But the real task is how to sustain the business and keep it growing. Without patience and endurance, nothing can be achieved. Women should not bow down to societal pressures and keep their head high and follow their vision.”
(This story is published in partnership with the MSMEs Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)