We wanted to create unique solution: Mohit Yadav, Co-founder, Freewill

THE IDEA: A techenabled personal care startup creating customised hair products for every individual’s unique requirements. The purchase journey begins with users answering a set of questions on their lifestyle and environmental conditions. Freewill’s proprietary algorithm processes the details and suggests a made-to-order hair solution. The products, including shampoos and conditioners, are created at Freewill’s own facility and sold exclusively through its platform.

EUREKA MOMENT: Brothers Mohit and Rahul Yadav previously co-founded an e-commerce platform that was later acquired. Subsequently, they worked at CarDekho, where they saw up close the benefits of customer journey personalisation and decided to implement it in personal care space. The result: Freewill, which is advised by former beauty industry veterans from L’Oréal, Unilever, and other companies. Mohit has an investment banking background, while Rahul’s expertise lies in technology.

“We wanted to change the traditional way consumer brands work; they create the product first and then draft a marketing story to get people to use it,” Mohit said. “In contrast, we start with the customer preference and create a product that suits them.”

EARLY DAYS: Freewill had no playbook to rely on.

“We interviewed several customers and determined the parameters required to arrive at our algorithm. Even today, we encounter new questions not covered by our questionnaire,” Mohit said. With such fierce customisation focus, it took the startup three months to get an operational blueprint in place.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Moving the personal care sector’s focus from being scale-oriented to creating customised solutions has been Freewill’s biggest task. “I can create 10,000 bottles (of the same product) in a minute easily, but if I have to create one unique solution, print one label, no operational structure exists,” Mohit said. Freewill’s machines, equipment, and tech tools are not from the beauty sector; they have been borrowed from other industries. Funding was another big hurdle and initially, the brothers used their money to set it up.

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WHERE THE STARTUP IS NOW: Freewill claims to have sold over 50,000 units of its products since beginning operations in September 2018. It has a team of 20 employees and an army of consultants, and its orders are growing by around 25% month-on-month. Freewill is now a part of the second cohort of Sequoia Capital’s accelerator programme, Surge.


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