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Startup Story: How Purplle aims to provide a personalized beauty products shopping experience

Purplle is known as beauty products vertical in the industry by taking the skin and hair type of their consumer into account.
Purplle Founders – Manish Taneja and Rahul Das

Average women of India are no longer relying just on talcum powder, bindi, and a kajal. Over the last decade, there is a drastic change in the lifestyle of Indian women, especially the middle class. Globalization plays a crucial role in such a transformation in the life of an average Indian woman.

With a new fond economic growth, many aspiring entrepreneurs of the country took it on their shoulders to vary the enterprising course of India. Thee men joined the startup community when they leaped e-commerce. They started Purplle as an e-platform for cosmetics and beauty products, which was an unexplored territory back in late 2011.

Interestingly, there is not much customization available in the cosmetic industry, in contrast to home decor or furnishing sectors, among many others. At that time, Indian customers were already comfortable with horizontal e-marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. They are already used to purchase various products like apparels, electronics, footwear on these platforms. Hence, they needed to make a differentiation in their product along with a unique shopping experience to tempt their customers to choose a vertical platform over a horizontal player.

We could easily say that Purplle faced many impediments before it became a top player in its e-commerce sector of India.

The Founders and The Idea Behind Purplle

Purplle Founder - Manish Taneja
Purplle Co-Founder and CEO – Manish Taneja

Manish Taneja, an alumnus of IIT Delhi is the Founder and CEO of Purplle. The startup was his next endeavor at entrepreneurship. He made his first attempt at the age of 24, which dwindled only within two years. Manish has already worked at Avendus Capital, and later, he chose to work with Fidelity Partners.

Purplle Co-Founder - Rahul Das and CTO - Suyash Katyayani
Purplle Co-Founder – Rahul Das and CTO – Suyash Katyayani

After turning 27, he again ventured into startups with Rahul Das, an IIT Kharagpur, and IIM Ahmedabad and Suyash Katyayani, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus as well. At that time, Rahul Das was working with the Tata Group, and Suyash is now the CTO of Purplle. The three of them were initially confused between furniture and fashion, but later on, the trio settled down with cosmetics and beauty instead. They came to this decision as purely business call because they realized that a furniture business would require a high investment, and there were already other startups in the fashion e-commerce industry; Myntra and Jabong were doing pretty good in the market.

The trio decided to venture into the cosmetics because it is one of the highest repeat categories of products. Now due to India’s urbanization, women are getting more disposable women are more exposed to trends. Secondly, the beauty business also gives the best margin, about 90% margin in luxury brands, and 70-80% margin in budgeted products.

Manish recalls that in 2011, there was no Sephora in the country. He further said that that beauty stores were minimal across the country, and B2B transactions were done only by the salons. The trio started their company purplle with about 4 million INR as their combined savings. However, in the initial month, it only profited about 45K INR from their friends and family. But as the company grew, just within four months, Purplle observed a 30% monthly scale. Now Purplle makes over 15 crores INR a month.

Personalized Experience at Purplle


Today, beauty and cosmetics are one of the fastest-growing verticals in the e-commerce platform. According to the observations by Purplle, Indias are usually hesitant when it comes to conversing with strangers, including the experts at any beauty store. Manish further says that the advisers at any brand-allocated store generally push certain products and lacks extensive knowledge about products. Hence, due to the lack of proper direction, many Indian women end up making mistakes while choosing a product like purchasing the wrong foundation shades.


Further, he points out that offline stores don’t have a stock of various products due to physical limitations. It leads them to push certain brands while knowing nothing about their customers. That’s where Purplle plays its role as e-commerce. Below are the features of Purplle that makes it an excellent platform for personalized shopping of beauty products:

  • No single brand shares 5% of the total revenue of 500 crore INR at purplle.
  • Purplle guides its majority of customers through a personalized experience; hence they don’t purchase most-selling brands or products.
  • Purplle believes that Tech is the only solution available to provide a personalized experience to shop for beauty and cosmetics products.
  • The main agenda of Purplle is to provide the knowledge of any product available on its platform to its consumers.
  • The target audience of Purplle is women of age group between 21-32 years.
  • Purplle pops up a questionnaire whenever a customer opens up its app or website to discover the right products.
  • Purplle’s questionnaire includes the customer’s skin tone, skin type, any specific skin problems like pigmentation, dry skin, acne, etc.
  • Purplle then provides personalized results according to the customer’s traits that are not at all personalized by their browsing history.

What is Holding in the Future for Purplle?

Team Purplle
Team Purplle

According to Google trends, beauty and self-care-related searches are on the 3rd position after phones and apparels when it comes to shopping searches. The market leader in the sector will rely on how they are going to supply their consumers by building the right selection. Among various categories on e-commerce, beauty, and cosmetic vertical has a minimum competition.

It is safe to say that the trio has a considerable space in each vertical, including e-commerce, subscription model, or direct brand selling. Vertical markets like Purplle helps to discover unique and novel in its distinct section. When it comes to the online beauty space of premium products, Purplle has around 20% market share. Notably, there is no B2C e-commerce platform making a profit yet in India. That is because the market in India is quite different from that of the rest of the Asian, US, Chinese, and rest of the world. Indians spend less than 8 USD on beauty and cosmetic products compared to other countries.

Purplle hopes that social media may influence India’s middle-class to get more into beauty products, along with increased purchasing power of Millenials. The company further says that with AI in the market, it won’t be long before e-commerce platforms became the significant sources of people’s cosmetic products.