Perhaps compared to prior generations, this generation may be less familiar with Ayurveda. But we can all agree that we have at least once in our lives heard the name Dr. Vaidya because of Mr. Arjun Vaidya. That is because of the business success of the brand’s family heir: Dr. Vaidya.
Arjun Vaidya earned a BA with honours in International Relations and Economics from Brown University in the United States before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey. He then worked in private equity at L Capital Asia (the private equity arm of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group), where he focused on consumer brands and consumer technology.
To know about the journey, Arjun left his employment in October 2016 to carry on his family’s history of Ayurvedic formulations. After the successful acquisition of Dr. Vaidya’s, he currently manages venture investing for Verlinvest (one of India’s world’s largest consumer brand-oriented funds). He is also a brand founder and active angel investor in India’s D2C and ecommerce ecosystem.
He has been featured in Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 and BusinessWorld 40 Under 40. As a splendid all-rounder that Arjun is, he also hosts a very successful podcast called Cohost.
We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Vaidya and learn about his incredible story. Follow this blog to learn more about what he has to say to our readers.
1: Dr. Vaidya has remained India’s pioneering ayurvedic brand. You have amplified the legacy by starting from scratch and have made it one of India’s largest D2C brands. We learned that the company was acquired in March 2021 while it was India’s first D2C entity. So, can you please walk us through the journey?
My last name, ‘Vaidya,’ means Ayurvedic (traditional Indian herbal medicine) doctor, and my family has been practising Ayurveda for 150 years through six generations. I was raised by the teachings of Ayurveda. In my childhood, I received Ayurvedic treatment from my grandfather, which cured me of my asthma and juvenile bronchitis. This stuck with me, and I began to feel that contributing to society through science and this legacy was part of my duty. My desire to do something “new-age” based on my family’s heritage was sown in my mind.
After my grandfather passed away in 2016, I quit my job to focus on Ayurveda. We first started offline, which unfortunately did not turn out in our favour. I had to seek out a different route to success. My wife eventually suggested that I should take this business online. We launched our website in November 2017. We had to learn everything about e-commerce from scratch because we had no prior experience.
It took us almost a year to take this from 0 to 50 orders per day. Right then, it was a BIG DEAL. We recognised the company’s potential and its success. In 2019, we began growing the company and obtained funding from the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group. The number of orders quickly increased from 50 to 5000 per day. We introduced more than 80 products, crossed 16,000+ pin codes, crossed 2 million customers, and many other milestones. The biggest ayurvedic brand in India had a long road to online success. After all of this, we managed to build the largest and most prosperous D2C exit.
2: You now lead a venture investing for Verlinvest in India. Tell us more about your time in Verlinvest and what the future here looks like.
The business was doing great online; I scaled it, monetised it, and eventually sold it. From there, it was a blank slate for me.
I made the decision to help people move ahead because I believed it was my time and duty to give back to the ecommerce community, the D2C community, and everyone. I began assisting founders and paying attention to their concerns and questions. This eventually inspired me to record a podcast on the subject, which has since become one of D2C’s most popular podcasts. The podcast was succeeding, so I started funding deserving entrepreneurs. My investments increased to 78 businesses within a year and a half.
This led me to approach the folks at Verlinvest. Verlinvest has an evergreen fund structure based out of Belgium, investing in consumer space. In India, they support some very well-known brands. They continued to invest heavily in primary equity and eventually desired to enter the early-stage investing market.
I saw it as an exciting opportunity for me to get into something I love. They were looking for an ex-founder to build a new venture business in India. I followed it because it was an interesting idea that piqued my interest.
Finally, we began venture investing in December of last year. We were able to invest between $1 and $5 million in this, spanning a variety of tech platforms and consumer markets. The building is now known as V3 ventures, as well as the funds despite being sponsored by Verlinvest.
To date, we’ve made some incredible investments in Cuckoo FM, Eco.care, and many other companies.
3: India is full of budding entrepreneurs. What would you advise young entrepreneurs such as yourself who want to make something out of themselves?
First of all, know that it’s not that simple. In the media, you may read a lot about entrepreneurship and see a lot of success stories. But what actually goes behind is a lot of hard work, struggle, and many sleepless nights.
A success story often involves a lot of failures. People rarely discuss the difficult times they are having in business. I’ll therefore summarise my advice in just three easy steps.
- Be prepared to experience failure and overcome it if you want to become an entrepreneur. Above all, be prepared to battle failure.
- You can’t do it all alone. A team’s ability to work together effectively and productively is unmatched. Create a strong, capable team to support you constantly.
- The crucial point is that you cannot pursue your entrepreneurial endeavours part-time. Either all in or all out is required. If you want it to be successful, you will have to put everything you have into it.
4: You are an active venture investor and mentor to brands in India’s startup ecosystem. How do you recognise the potential of a startup? How do you know if it is worth winning the investment?
In an early-stage startup, there are three things that I take into account. The importance percentage is then divided among them.
- Founders (50%): I need to know the person. What setbacks do they experience, and why do they fail? And why do they possess a winning advantage? I give it a 50% because, in the end, I’m investing in a person, so I need to get to know them well.
- Market size: 20%. I need to know how big of a market they are targeting with their product.
- Business and Economics (30%): These are the usual factors to take into account, such as the business, economy, revenue, growth, sales, gross margin, a customer in the position, cost, contribution margin, bottom line profile, etc.
5: Can you please shed some light on your cohort-based D2C business, its importance, and what is in it for them?
Many founders were asking me similar questions, which were often valid yet repetitive. Therefore, we developed this cohort-based journey that guides the founder through the entire D2C process. By incorporating live speakers, interactive sessions, and other methods, we shape the knowledge.
Five hundred fifty founders have completed the course to date, and they have all subsequently benefited from it. They have formed a community by becoming friends and companions with one another.
6: Please share how you manage your day and how you plan it.
I divide my time between the weekdays and the weekends. I pursue my career as an investor during the workweek and my cohort podcast and everything during the weekend.
So, yes, that is how my time is divided.
7: Tell us about your interests outside of your daily work schedule. What books and sports do you like?
I consider myself to be a crazy sports fan. I enjoy watching sports documentaries, playing sports, and listening to podcasts about entrepreneurship. I also spend a lot of time watching and playing sports. I run in marathons. I enjoy playing football and squash.
I’m an avid cricket and football fan. This is due to how much context and perspective sports provide for both life and entrepreneurship. We have a lot more to learn as founders. Sportsmen teach you a lot about failure and about working as a team.
8: Who is the author who inspires you the most?
I really like Seth Godin. His purple cow is my favourite. I really enjoy reading it.
9: What has been your biggest challenge? And who has been your inspiration in your journey as a young entrepreneur? And what is the one golden rule that you live by?
The reason why we do what we do serves as an inspiration for many other business people and me. My primary objective is to carry on my grandfather’s legacy because there will be many challenging times in which we must be prepared. Even on my bad days, I can still tell that he is watching me, and I work hard every day to live up to his expectations.
One mantra that I live by is, ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.’ It’s about thinking creatively and refusing to settle for anything less than excellent. To get somewhere, you must make changes.
10: What would you advise all young entrepreneurs?
I would like to say a few things:
- There is no better time to start than now, so get up and start.
- One of the most exciting times in the Indian startup ecosystem, so get on with it.
- Make it happen, keep going, and stop at nothing.