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Shantanu Deshpande and Deepu Panicker Unite Tradition and Technology at Bombay Shaving Company
May 19, 2017
Shantanu and Deepu’s approach to shaving is the marriage of old traditions and new technology.

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Shantanu Deshpande (MUM, DEL 11-15) had been interested in the fast-moving consumer goods end of retail since his days at McKinsey, but it wasn’t until a friend told him about Dollar Shaving Club and Harry’s that he became determined to bring a subscription-based shaving and grooming products company for men to the Indian market. He joined forces with Deepu Panicker (XFR 11-15) and a couple of other friends as co-founders, and as Bombay Shaving Company nears its first anniversary, the New Delhi-based company is making its mark on the billion-dollar men’s grooming market in India. 

On the power of his product, Shantanu (now CEO) highlights the old-school benefits of the double-edged single blade over the multi-blades currently on the market. While the newer multi-blade systems added a level of safety, the co-founders believed the quality of the shave was compromised. This was a trade-off they didn’t think was necessary. 

"The in-house design is the key to success,” he said in a recent interview with India's Business Today. “The blade's tolerance has to be between 70-100 microns to ensure the level of quality shave we aim for. We have put in a lot of effort to understand the different skin types to develop appropriate solutions." 

But while the single blade concept is not new, bringing it to the Indian market as part of a subscription-based grooming system that also includes beautifully designed shaving tools and pre- and post-shave treatments is definitely an innovation. Shantanu and Deepu’s approach is the marriage of old traditions and new technology that Shantanu says Bombay embodies – hence the name of the city in the company’s brand.

When it comes to the business itself, investments in October 2015 (including ones from former Tata Consultancy Services CEO, MD and Vice Chairman Subramanian Ramadorai and several former McKinsey colleagues) helped make Bombay Shaving Company’s June 2016 launch possible. The company is far from alone in the field, but the rush of startups entering the same space in the same market doesn’t scare Shantanu and Deepu. Their operation is lean, and the pipeline of additional products they want to add to the business is full. "We want to be a multi-product, multi-channel play," says Shantanu. "The opportunity is very large and we are looking to capture a substantial share of the market." 

One happy customer said, "[Bombay Shaving Company] sold something called the 'six-part shaving system' . . . this was a revelation to me. I loved it." If reviews like this are any indication, Shantanu and Deepu may be well on their way to securing the big piece of India’s shaving market that they’re after.

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