Pragya Jhunjhunwala was honored as one of the top 20 female entrepreneurs by business connect. She is exceptionally passionate about social justice and women’s empowerment. As part of her effort to improve the lives of those around her, she actively participates in the marketing and training efforts of more than 80 women’s SHGs. Her mission is to change the world through health care and education. As a startup adviser and business owner, she has assisted entrepreneurs in their ascent through education programs on several platforms.
She also publishes articles and papers on various themes in prestigious journals and magazines and the house journals of academic and professional organizations. She shares her motivational entrepreneurial journey in an interview with Business Upside.
Edited Excerpts from the Interview
What Made you Think Hair Wellness is a Business Idea?
My personal battle with hair loss was stressful and frightening. Prescription drugs led to nothing but unwanted side effects. I felt helpless and low on self-confidence. I was introduced to Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) by my co-founder, Prerna Khemka, who worked with the inventor of the laser cap device.
Hair makes 90 percent of our selfies. The Problem of hair loss is widespread, fast-increasing & devastating. The direct impact of hair loss on self-confidence leads to depression in adults. But the solutions to hair loss are limited, expensive, complicated, or gimmicks. Not only is hair loss overwhelming, but finding solutions is even more so. It’s all fragmented, the internet is flooded with gimmicky products, and because there’s no quick fix to hair loss, you never really know what’s working and what’s not.
People seek out ways to transform their hair into healthier, fuller versions. There is a need for perspective because hair loss is plaguing 80% of men & 50% of women in India, especially 40% of Youth under 30. Moreover, very few of us realize that hair is just like the rest of our health – it needs care, investment, and commitment. It has to become part of your lifestyle. And it is never too late to start.
What was your Mission at the Outset?
HairSmart India was formed in 2016 to develop innovative, light-based therapeutic devices for the Indian health & beauty industry. Its first commercial product is HairSmart 80 for Indian women and men with thinning hair. It’s the company’s founding mission that Indians deserve cutting-edge technology & world-class quality in the hair-care field at affordable and accessible Indian prices. I have been a hair loss sufferer for ten years and have founded HairSmart to provide a Systematic Approach to Optimal Hair Health.
With HairSmart – I’ve combined my seven years of experience in the Hair Loss treatment business and ten years in Holistic health and Ayurveda to launch three HOLISTIC systems – Protect, Repair & Grow.
Why did you Choose Ayurveda?
Our USP is that we offer a zero-side-effect, non-surgery, non-painful, and non-invasive hair wellness solution. All the systems have everything you need in one place. They are all-natural, drug-free, and chemical-free and use the highest quality of clinically proven ingredients sourced from all over the world.
In Ayurveda, following a good hair care regimen includes eating well and offering the hair follicles nourishment from within. Our natural approach is clinically proven to support your hair growth by targeting your hair roots. The Low-Level Laser Technology we use in our products also follows the same principle. It targets your hair roots and stimulates blood and oxygen supply. I want to prove that natural remedy is not only a solution but also the future of hair wellness.
How do you Market your Business, and which Method has been most Successful?
Our main target clients include professionals in the field of medicine, such as hair transplant surgeons, trichologists, cosmetologists, and dermatologists. For my business, word-of-mouth has been the most successful channel. Currently, we have over 500 physicians, 8 pan-India chains of hair clinics, and a few big pharmaceutical companies in our kitty.
What was your Experience in the Initial Days?
People think that hair loss is not something that is very fatal. There were a lot of hiccups in education awareness. Even though doctors in countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia were familiar with LLLT science, Indian doctors were totally new to this science and technology. Dr. Rajesh Rajput is one of the pioneers who helped us sensitize the market about hair wellness, that too in a natural way.
Since laser technology was very common for hair removal, people could not believe we used the same technology for an absolutely contrasting result. Moreover, it was believed that laser is associated with burning, and it took a lot of work to make people understand that different wavelengths of light produce different results. Laser technology was used only for penetration to the follicular level as LED lights, commonly sold as laser lights, get diffused on the scalp.
Our technology works on active hair follicles, not dead ones. So in our initial days, many bald people approached us expecting to get their natural hair back, but we had to refuse and refer them to hair transplant surgeons humbly.
What are some of the Most Important Lessons that have Influenced your Work?
A holistic approach includes optimal scalp health, optimal nutrition, increased blood flow, increased hair follicle metabolism, reduced inflammation, more nutrients to the blood supply, and nutrient uptake into cells, prolonging the anagen phase of hair follicles, fighting cell breakdown, and aging cells.
We realized that people who approached us wanted complete solutions for their hair care and hair growth. They were already emotionally devastated by trying various other drug-induced, invasive, and surgical treatments. The most important lesson I learned was that we must deal with each individual with utmost care and attention. We cannot treat everyone and anyone.
Expectation management was also a very important aspect. We had to make our clients understand what kind of results to expect as the treatment period progresses. Some might even see increased hair shedding during the first month before new hair starts to grow.
Initially, we used to promote our caps for hair thinning, hair fall, and hair regrowth. Still, an important lesson was that the increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which drives many of the processes in our cells, helps speed up the healing process. So we actively started promoting it to hair transplant surgeons to be used post-surgery for faster healing and reducing inflammation.
What Challenges do you have to Face, and how do you Overcome them?
Apart from penetrating the market and investing a good amount of time and money in education awareness, we also faced difficulties in imports and getting proper licenses and certifications, as even the officials in various departments like Customs, Sales Tax, etc., did not understand the usage of lasers for hair growth. In fact, we had to give them demo sessions of our device to help them get a better understanding. Furthermore, our laser caps often made a scene at airport security checks. Even they wanted to try our therapy as they, just like anyone else, were victims of hair fall.
The pricing was also a challenge to attracting a large base of customers. As we used actual lasers and they started showing promising results, we overcame this challenge when the word spread about our magical cap.
What do you Think of a Sustainable Solution for the long-term Wellness of your Patients?
CRM (Cleanse, Repair, Manage) technique should be followed for the long-term sustainability of wellness. We must understand that our body is also like a machine that needs cleansing and servicing from time to time. Due to our lifestyle, our body machine is getting abused because we are not putting the right fuel to energize it. Because of low energy, different kinds of diseases crop, and the body organs do not function in a systematic and synchronized manner. There are various ways available to cleanse our bodies of the toxins we intake on a daily basis. Understanding that any medication would give better results in a cleansed body than a toxic one is essential.
Then, whatever is needed to repair the damaged parts/cells/organs, needs to be done. Appropriate medications should be used.
For sustainable wellness, alert & continuous management should be done to prevent the further harboring of any diseases. 80% of diseases can be cured by using food as medicine. For hair repair & management, LLLT is recommended (alternate days a week) for each one after the age of 18 for a sustainable hair growth plan.
What has been your Most Satisfying Moment in Business?
Seeing the happy faces of clients after using our product is very satisfying, but there is one special moment that I can recollect. In 2021, we launched a full range of HairSmart products like shampoo, serum, etc. Just 2 months after launch, we got a massive order for export worth more than USD 10,000. It was one of the most exhilarating moments.
How do you Define Success?
Success to me is increasing the happiness index of people around me and playing a muse in improving their quality of life. Success is when our expectations meet reality. By distinctly understanding the difference between the assurances we make and the dedication we stand for, we successfully provide people confidence through HairSmart. We believe that confidence is an inside job. Let’s get your hair out of the way!
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