START OF PADCARE
Ajinkya, age 8, asked his mother Rekha Dhariya about what a sanitary napkin was after watching a television advertisement in the small Maharashtrian village of Mhasla. The young man then founded PadCare Labs, a firm that creates environmentally friendly sanitary disposal methods. PadCare secured a joint offer from four sharks on the business reality series Shark Tank India Season 2, receiving 1 crore for 4% equity.
Sharks that invested in the firm included 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).
“It takes between 500 and 800 years for a sanitary napkin to degrade, and 98% of them end up in landfills and waterways. They are also incinerated at 800 degrees, which results in hazardous waste, a poisonous odor, and smoke, according to 26-year-old Ajinkya Dhariya on Shark Tank India.
Earlier, while Dhariya was an R&D engineer for ISRO, he visited a landfill in Pune and observed rag pickers collecting diapers and sanitary trash with their bare hands. This is how the health technology company PadCare came to be.
“A woman experiences a menstrual cycle for five days each month and for roughly five to six years of her life. In her lifetime, she has used more than 7,500 sanitary napkins. These are taken by our rag collectors with their bare hands. But out of shame, these are either buried or burned in the communities.” According to Dhariya, who is also the CEO of PadCare, 1,200 crore sanitary napkins are used in India each year.
In order to address this, Padcare provides three products: the PadCare bin, which safely and odorless keeps hazardous waste for 30 days, the PadCare X, which turns 15,000 sanitary napkins into wood pulp and high-quality plastics, and the PadCare Vend (a sanitary napkin vending machine). According to the founder, the Padcare bin is also India’s first patented sanitary napkin disposal and recycling system.
“The market is where the wood pulp and plastic are sold to the paper and packaging sectors.” These can also be used to build a PadCare bin, he continued.
In the beginning, PadCare erected 3 PadCare bins with assistance from prior customers State Bank of India and Praj Industries. Over 5,500 PadCare bins have been installed, and the company currently has 150 clients, including Facebook, Capgemini, and Goldman Sachs.
According to Dhariya, PadCare is currently present in 6 cities and is affiliated with more than 100 organizations. 1 lakh women use its products, preventing 15 metric tonnes of carbon emissions. According to him, interest in employing PadCare products has been shown by the US, Canada, Singapore, and African nations.
Additionally, the business obtained backing from the Tata Trust and the Infosys Foundation, as well as a 2.25 crores government grant to create the PadCare X device. The startup had sales of 1.05 crores in FY22.
In the healthcare and science category of the Forbes Asia 30 under 30 lists for 2021, Dhariya was included. Dhariya, however, came under heavy criticism because developing a sanitary disposal system, particularly by a man, is not a usual endeavor. But his family ended up being his biggest fan.
“Every day, sanitary pads were required for research. I assumed I would need to enlist my friends’ assistance. I handed him my pads because he is my brother. All the women out there consider Ajinkya to be a brother.”, according to Dhariya’s sister Aishwarya Mapara.
Peyush Bansal, Co-Founder of Lenskart, who was moved by the social issue Dhariya was pursuing, gave Dhariya a blank check.
In reference to the Akshay Kumar-led Bollywood film Padman, in which the lead character resolves to combat the social stigma connected with menstruation hygiene, shark Aman Gupta stated, “He is the Padman of 2022.” The real-life hero Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur and the creator of an affordable sanitary pad-making machine, served as the inspiration for Kumar’s character.
Dhariya requested 50 lakh rupees for 2% stake at a valuation of 25 crore, but he ultimately received 1 crore for 4% equity at the same valuation.