We are excited to announce our investment in KNYA, a digital-first brand that aspires to be the go-to brand for the medical apparel needs of healthcare professionals in the country. Founded by husband-wife duo, Vanshika, and Abhijeet Kaji, KNYA specialises in functional, comfortable, and cool work apparel for doctors, surgeons, nurses, and medics that help them look, feel and perform at their best. Their product portfolio comprises scrub suits, lab coats, masks, compression socks, and scrub caps.
Emerging Consumer Behavior - Scrubs is set to be the lab coats of the future!
Doctors have always worn scrubs in operating theatres. These scrubs are typically purchased by hospitals through their own purchasing channels/networks. An interesting emerging trend is doctors’ preference to wear scrubs in outpatient environments as well. This trend is very evident from our conversations with doctors, hospital management and medical students and corroborates with trends that have played out in other markets. The doctors prefer to buy the scrubs themselves (instead of relying on the hospital sourcing channels) for the outpatient use case as they care about fit and comfort, and it is an extension of their personality. This behaviour is prevalent in more advanced institutions in the country now. We expect it to percolate and become mainstream in the long term. Scrubs are set to be the lab coats of the future! This presents a massive opportunity for KNYA to build a brand that becomes synonymous with ‘scrubs’ in the country. KNYA has the opportunity to create a new category and own the category like many of our brands: Sula (wines), Veeba (sauces), Epigamia (Greek Yoghurt), Superbottoms (Cloth diapering)!
Learnings from Other Markets:
The trends in developed markets corroborate the behaviour of early adopters in India. Figs is the largest direct-to-consumer healthcare apparel and lifestyle company in the United States. Founded in 2013, the company designs all its productsin-house and leverages third-party suppliers and manufacturers to produce raw materials and finished products. Figs directly and actively manages every step of the product development and production process to ensure that extremely high-quality standards are met.
Figs has grown in a capital-efficient manner- achieved a scale of USD 263 Mn in 2020 with only USD 60 Mn in invested capital. The capital efficiency is greater than 4x! They market and sell 98% of their products through their digital platform, consisting of a website and mobile app, to a rapidly growing community of loyal customers. Figs went public in May 2021. Another medical apparel brand – Jaanu, recently raised a USD 75M investment from Eurazeo.
Figs and Jaanu are case studies of brands that benefited from the changing customer behaviour: Doctors’ preference to buy scrubs themselves from high-quality and purpose-driven brands and the increasing digital adoption.
The State of the Indian Medical Apparel Market:
The current medical apparel manufacturers focus on the scrubs used in operating theatres (OT). These are scrubs primarily procured through hospital procurement channels and used by doctors in OTs. The incumbent scrub manufacturers supply directly to the hospitals or sell the products in brick-and-mortar medical supply stores in/near hospital premises. With a B2B mindset, they do not have a nuanced understanding of customer needs. The feedback from doctors is that there is huge scope to improve the purchase experience and product quality.
The market will see the emergence of new-age brands catering to doctors’ preference for buying high-quality scrubs from reputed brands and accordingly, digital will be an important distribution channel.
The main customer pain points driving scrubs adoption are:
- Comfort – Scrubs made from superior fabric which is light and with moisture-wicking and wrinkle-resistant properties provide unmatched comfort for doctors, especially in a tropical country.
- Hygiene – COVID has created greater awareness of separating clothes worn in hospitals and outside in the medical fraternity.
- The functional design of scrubs enables convenience in carrying medical equipment around.
In addition, doctors take great pride in being recognized in a uniform. We expect faster adoption among the younger Millenials and Gen-Z medical professionals, especially as a few medical schools have already made scrubs the default uniform for students.
What Gives KNYA the Right to Win: The Founders – Our Most Important Consideration!
Vanshika and Abhijeet are mission-driven founders focused on serving and celebrating our medical heroes with the best quality products. After founding KNYA in 2020, they have been working closely with the medical fraternity through the pandemic.
Vanshika, a fourth-generation textile entrepreneur has a background in fashion, with deep textile expertise. She leads product innovation and helped develop highly functional, superior products in tune with the needs of healthcare professionals.
The scrub suits have been tailored to deliver high performance and comfort for long and demanding working hours. They are wrinkle-resistant, stretchable, comfortable, odour resistant, and autoclavable as well i.e., they can withstand sterilization and high-pressure steam in hospital laundry systems. Given the consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for functional, comfortable, cool products, KNYA allows customization so that hospitals and doctors can make their scrub suits reflective of themselves and what they stand for.
Abhijeet handles growth, hiring and finance. Prior to KNYA Abhijeet worked as an investor at Warburg Pincus and was one of the founding members of Mumbai-based Filter Capital. He has also worked as Chief of Staff at Reliance Industries. He has played an important role in building the business with strong fundamentals in a capital-efficient manner.
This category is protected from typical risks in apparel like unpredictable customer behaviour and working capital issues. We believe this will help build an enduring brand, BRICK by BRICK, in a capital-efficient manner. Vanshika and Abhijeet share our ethos on building the business sustainably! We cannot overstate the importance of building a business sustainably especially when creating a new category. It allows the founders the staying power to calibrate growth if the new behaviour adoption is slower than anticipated!
We’re absolutely thrilled to partner with Vanshika and Abhijeet on their journey to building KNYA as the category-defining brand for healthcare professionals’ apparel needs!