The Singapore-based multinational personal care company which has brands like Safi, Enchanteur, Eversoft and Bio-Essence under its portfolio.
With the venture fund, the company hopes to invest in new innovative consumer brand start-ups in South East Asia and India.
“Our goal is to support start-ups on their growth journey by sharing our deep operational knowledge and experience in scaling businesses, as well as our strong understanding of consumers in India and South East Asia,” said Deepak Chandran, the company’s CFO of International Business
He told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company was interested in niched products that target a specific market and brands that can “break through the clutter”.
“There’s potential to grow a narrow niche into a reasonably scaled brand or offering over three to five years and take it to our core markets, that's what makes the idea attractive to us.”
He added: “We believe there are many emerging brands the personal care space that have the potential to become large categories. We want to participate in that and be part of the growth story at a much earlier stage.”
The company sees significant value and potential in investing and partnering with start-ups. It believes the venture fund will be integral to support its ambition to become one of the “top three players” in Asia’s personal care industry, said Chandran.
One aim the company has is to build up its digital and e-commerce capabilities, which Chandran believes will continue to play an important role in the region.
Focus on e-commerce
The company has had previous success investing in an India-based start-up, which launched leading male and female grooming brands including Happily Unmarried and Ustraa and gleaned insights into the brand’s e-commerce model.
“Since our investment in Happily Unmarried two years ago the business has grown many folds. During this time, the learnings and understandings we have gained have enabled us to further grow our digital and e-commerce offerings throughout Asia. Our work together has been invaluable,” said Chandran.
He added: “Their model is very interesting, that's where our own thoughts around how the space will evolve and take shape. We believe that the disruption could come from multiple ways, not just in product offering but also the channel part of it.”
By investing in more start-ups, Wipro hopes to continue building on its knowledge and strengthen its capabilities in the e-commerce and digital space.
While the company is traditionally rooted in brick and mortar, it has been expanding into e-commerce in the last four to five years. Chandran noted that observing Happily Married operated has benefited Wipro’s understanding of the online model.
He noted that it was essential for the company to grow in the online space.
"For this whole region, China is probably the benchmark for what the online market space could become for each category. We have to straddle both. We are a large FMCG player in the region that operates in the offline space but we are also gaining ground in the online marketplace.”