scorecard‘Padman of 2022’: Shark Peyush Bansal offers founder of women’s hygiene startup PadCare a blank cheque
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‘Padman of 2022’: Shark Peyush Bansal offers founder of women’s hygiene startup PadCare a blank cheque

‘Padman of 2022’: Shark Peyush Bansal offers founder of women’s hygiene startup PadCare a blank cheque
Business3 min read
Ajinkya Dhariya at Shark Tank India    Shark Tank India
  • Healthtech startup PadCare bagged a joint deal from four sharks on Shark Tank India at ₹1 crore for 4% equity.
  • One sanitary napkin takes 500 to 800 years to decompose and 98% of sanitary napkins go into landfills and water bodies, claims the founder.
  • PadCare, which works to create a menstrual hygiene management ecosystem, offers three products- PadCare bin, PadCare X and PadCare Vend.
  • The startup’s PadCare bins’ clients include Facebook, Capgemini and Goldman Sachs.
Rekha Dhariya, a mother from Mhasla, a small village in Maharashtra, did not neglect her eight-year-old son Ajinkya’s question about what a sanitary napkin was, after he had watched a television ad. The boy went on to found PadCare Labs- a startup that develops sustainable sanitary disposal technologies. On the business reality show Shark Tank India Season 2, PadCare bagged a joint deal from four sharks – securing ₹1 crore for 4% equity.

Namita Thapar (executive director, Emcure Pharmaceuticals), Peyush Bansal (co-founder, CEO Lenskart), Vineeta Singh (co-founder, CEO of Sugar Cosmetics) and Anupam Mittal (co-founder of Shaadi.com) were the sharks who invested in the startup.

“One sanitary napkin takes 500 to 800 years to decompose and 98% of sanitary napkins go into landfills and water bodies. They are also burnt at 800 degrees with a process called incineration, producing hazardous waste, toxic smell and smoke,” said 26-year-old Ajinkya Dhariya on Shark Tank India.

Earlier while working for ISRO as an R&D engineer, Dhariya visited a landfill in Pune, and saw rag pickers picking up sanitary waste and diapers with their bare hands. This is how healthtech startup PadCare was born.

“A woman spends 5 days a month and approximately five to six years of her life experiencing a menstrual cycle. She consumes over 7,500 sanitary napkins in a lifetime. Our rag pickers pick these up with their bare hands. But in embarrassment, in villages, these are either buried or burned. 1,200 crore sanitary napkins are used every year in India,” Dhariya, who is also the CEO of PadCare.

To solve this, Padcare offers three products – PadCare bin (stores hazardous waste for 30 days without bacterial growth or smell), PadCare X (recycles 15,000 sanitary napkins into wood pulp and high quality plastics) and PadCare Vend (a sanitary napkin vending machine). The Padcare bin is also India’s first 5D-technology-based patented sanitary napkin disposal and recycling system, the founder said.

“The wood pulp and plastic is sold in the market to paper and packaging industries. These can be converted into creating a PadCare bin as well,” he added.

Scaling Padcare across India

With the help of earlier clients State Bank of India and Praj Industries, PadCare installed 3 PadCare bins in the beginning. Today, the company has 150 clients including Facebook, Capgemini and Goldman Sachs and has installed over 5,500 PadCare bins.

PadCare is currently present in 6 cities across over 100 organisations and its products are being used by 1 lakh women, conserving 15 metric tons of carbon emissions, as per Dhariya. US, Canada, Singapore and African countries have expressed interest in using PadCare products, he said.

The startup was also supported by Tata Trust, Infosys Foundation and additionally received a ₹2.25 crore government grant to develop the PadCare X machine. In FY22, the startup had sales of ₹1.05 crore.

Dhariya was part of the Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list under healthcare and science category in 2021.

However, the journey to create a sanitary disposal system, especially by a man, is not a common sight and Dhariya faced a lot of ridicule. But his family became his support system.

“Sanitary pads were needed everyday for research. I thought I would have to seek the help of my friends. He is my brother so I gave him my pads. Ajinkya is a brother to all the women out there,” Aishwarya Mapara, Dhariya’s sister said.

Moved by the social cause Dhariya was tackling, Lenskart’s Bansal offered a blank cheque to Dhariya.

“He is the Padman of 2022,” said shark Aman Gupta referring to the Bollywood movie Padman and its lead character played by Akshay Kumar, who resolves to address social stigma associated with menstrual hygiene. Kumar’s character is based on real-life hero Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur and the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine.

While Dhariya’s ask was ₹50 lakh for 2% equity at valuation of ₹25 crore, he ended up getting ₹1 crore for 4% equity, for the same valuation.

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