86-year-old removes ‘retirement’ from his dictionary to become a startup founder
AvimeeHerbal produces hair and skin care products using a mixture of ayurvedic and modern ingredients.
- Started in 2021, Avimee is the brainchild of 86-year-old Radha Krishna Choudhary.
- While the startup walked away without a deal, Choudhary’s attitude and determination inspired the sharks.
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Aged 86, Radha Krishna Choudhary appeared on the show with four of his family members to pitch his startup, Avimee Herbal. The startup produces hair and skin care products using a mixture of ayurvedic and modern ingredients.
“Through my knowledge and passion for Ayurveda, I want to solve people’s hair and skin problems and spread happiness. I have resolved to regrow people’s hair,” claimed Choudhary on the show.
Gujarat-based startup Avimee started operations in August 2021 with three products. Today, it has 27 products on offer and is all set to launch in Dubai. The products are available on the company website, and on marketplaces like Amazon. Avimee claims to have sold products worth ₹6.5 crore in FY22 with zero marketing spend.
The ‘nanaji’ who became an entrepreneur
The founding members of Avimee include Choudhary’s daughter, Vinita Aggarwal, grandsons Vibhor and Siddhant Aggarwal, and Siddhant’s wife, Ambika Aggarwal. But it’s the brainchild of Choudhary, aka Nanaji.
Originally hailing from Bihar, Choudhary completed his graduation in commerce in 1957. He was only 10 when India attained independence. He was interested in Ayurveda since he was a child, and spent his life studying it.
He has been researching Ayurveda and hair fall for over three decades. But it was only during Covid that he put his knowledge to test — for his daughter. After recovering from Covid, Vinita experienced extreme hair fall. That’s when Choudhary developed hair oil to help her.
“I resolved to solve my daughter’s problem of hair loss at any cost. I prepared a formula after thorough research. I prepared an oil with miraculous results… When I finished making the oil and asked her (his daughter) to apply, she said – No dad, you apply first!” shared Choudhary on the show.
The hair oil proved to be effective, not just for Vinita but even Choudhary who claimed to have regrown hair on his formerly bald head at the ripe old age of 85. Impressed by its benefits and results, the family started distributing the oil for free among family and friends. That’s how Avimee was born.
Advertisement“Many people asked me – when people retire at 60, how did you start a business at 85? I tell all of them - I’ve removed the word retirement from my dictionary,” said Choudhary.
Impressed by his attitude, CarDekho.com co-founder Amit Jain remarked that Choudhary reminded him of his own grandfather, and even sought his blessings.
Choudhary also appeared on the singing reality show Indian Idol in 2022 and is a mini-celebrity in his own right. As his daughter, Vinita, said on Shark Tank India, “My father became a superstar overnight! My dad taught me that there’s no age limit to starting a business.”
Sharks can’t recover money
Projecting sales worth ₹20 crore in FY23, the founders asked for an investment of ₹2.8 crore for 0.5% equity stake, valuing the company at a whopping ₹560 crore. The valuation, which the founders claimed was ‘forward-looking’ and based on competitors’ valuation, left all the sharks shocked.
Advertisement“Forward-looking valuation is done for mature businesses. You’ve taken multiple concepts, of private equity and public equity, and made the best valuation (for Avimee)... even if you make ten times the sales, our money can’t be recovered at 0.5% equity,” remarked shark
Three sharks, Bansal, boAt co-founder Aman Gupta and Emcure Pharmaceuticals’ executive director Namita Thapar, backed out stating that while Choudhary was an inspiration, the business was too vast (in its offerings) with an extremely high valuation.
Shaadi.com founder Anupam Mittal and Jain made two different offers — but of which were debt-and-equity combinations. Jain offered ₹1 crore for 2.5% equity and ₹1.8 crore debt at 12% interest, bringing the company’s valuation to ₹40 crore. Mittal offered ₹70 lakh for 2% equity, and ₹2.1 crore at a 15% interest rate, valuing the company at ₹35 crore.
However, the founders didn’t want to take on debt and revised their valuation to ₹186 crore, requesting an investment of ₹2.8 crore for 1.5% equity. But the sharks didn’t revise their offer. Though they tried, the founders were unable to provide a convincing argument for the high valuation, and ultimately walked away without a deal.
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