A regular working individual spends on an average one-third of his day sitting. Sitting in a bad or wrong posture could result in chronic back, neck problems and is linked with other health issues like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, which negatively impacts mental health, and ultimately affects work quality and productivity. “It is paramount that the seating setup provides the correct support and comfort while sitting for long hours. Productivity cannot come at the cost of discomfort and while chairs solve the purpose of sitting, they don’t cater to the unique body size and shape of each person. Ergonomic chairs do exactly that,” says Ravi Khushwani, Founder and CEO of Green Soul Ergonomics.
Based in Mumbai, Green Soul Ergonomics provides a range of ergonomic furniture with great designs that are comfortable, supportive, durable and achieves the best posture for the user.
Recognising the gap in the ergonomic furniture market
Prior to starting Green Soul Ergonomics, Ravi had accumulated immense experience in supply chain, logistics and customer service operations during his four-year stint with FedEx. He was very passionate and optimistic about the growth of e-commerce in India and used to explore businesses on eBay by selling customised t-shirts. After sensing an opportunity of incorporating technology in logistics, Ravi left his corporate job and took the entrepreneurial plunge with a logistics aggregator platform.
It wasn’t long before he sensed a major gap in the Indian ergonomic furniture market as there were no trusted Indian brands helping customers to make the right choices when it comes to their spine health.
“There are premier brands in international markets like Herman Miller or Steel Case, but it is not accessible or affordable in the Indian market,” he says. His own experience of working for hours in an incorrect posture added to the motive. He did extensive market research, R&D, and sampled products from various premier international brands to come up with the best product mix suitable for the Indian market. The idea was to employ his vast supply chain experience and customer-centric approach to create a customer-focussed and trusted D2C brand to bring non-existent ergonomic seating solutions in the Indian market at affordable price points. In 2016, Green Soul Ergonomics was launched with a mission to promote healthy sitting through its range of ergonomically designed furniture.
Challenges along the way
Like every other startup, Green Soul Ergonomics had its fair share of challenges. The initial one came in the form of consumer acceptance of online purchase of DIY furniture. “It was quite difficult to sell furniture online as this is a touch-and-feel product,” he says. But over time, through customer reviews and word-of-mouth, they managed to convince customers.
The second challenge was logistics, as the e-commerce of heavy bulky goods was still in its nascent stage and the Indian logistics industry was also not equipped to handle door-to-door delivery of heavy bulky goods. Ravi took these challenges head-on and tried to create a friendly customer experience team that assisted the customer in the complete journey of the product purchase. He also collaborated with renowned packaging suppliers and logistic partners to create a robust delivery process of DIY furniture.
The company also faced issues in providing on-site post-sales support through carpenters as the service market was completely unorganised. To solve this challenge, they started to keep an inventory of spare parts to be able to serve the customer on their own.
“With a minimal marketing budget, we relied on word-of-mouth for promotions and it has worked wonders for Green Soul Ergonomics. And while the e-commerce of heavy bulky goods has come a long way, the penetration in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities is still minimal when it comes to online furniture purchase,” says Ravi.
A complete ergonomic solution
Green Soul Ergonomics is involved in extensive research to understand the built, height, posture of Indian consumers, as well as the quality that goes into building each component of their furniture. “Based on continuous feedback and learning from customers, and our own R&D, we have been able to evolve our products to satisfy the diverse requirements for Indian consumers,” says Ravi.
All its dynamic chairs are crafted with classy and aesthetic designs and provide best-in-class comfort to customers. Their Multifunctional range of chairs is the confluence of style, comfort and ergonomics, providing vast flexibility in its use. Their Efficient series of chairs are designed to provide long sitting hours without any discomfort to help in maximum productivity at work.
The company has also forayed into multipurpose tables, offering non-conventional designed computer desks for the complete work/gaming set up at homes and offices, which saves space and gives maximum utility.
“Our focus is on providing a complete healthy seating solution and it starts with our Pre-Sales support wherein we help customers to choose the best product fit according to their height, weight, duration of usage and nature of work. Post-purchase, we support the customer in helping them with assembly and set up and guiding them on best sitting practices. We also take care of any future problems by having hassle-free professional on-site warranty support for our customers,” he says.
Ergonomics in the new normal
Green Soul Ergonomics began by selling office chairs pan-India and moved into gaming chairs in 2018. In 2020, with remote working coming into play, they expanded their customer service team to cater to the ever-growing customer queries seeking assistance on choosing the right product according to their requirements and specifications. They also took this opportunity to tie up with employees of Tech MNCs and startups to help them set up their home-work offices. Moreover, as their chairs are multifunctional, most of their gaming chairs proved to be useful for those working from home.
Ravi says that ergonomic chairs are here to stay. “An ergonomic design is built with factors such as the physical structure of the body along and nature/usage of the product. It comes with enough control, adjustments and support to help the user sit in the correct posture and hence deliver consistent productivity in the long run as well as lead a healthy and happy life. Also, you may avoid unnecessary visits to physiotherapists.”
Although a lot of brands have sprung up online to fill the gap for work-from-home furniture requirements, Green Soul Ergonomics is focussed on innovation and customer satisfaction. “We are continuously improving our products and services and employing a mix of technology and human touch to create a strong trust amongst our customers,” says Ravi.
Bootstrapped and growing by leaps
Over the last four years, Green Soul Ergonomics has grown and is able to create its own brand name in the ergonomic furniture industry. Having started in a small warehouse-cum-office in Thane, Maharashtra, the bootstrapped startup has grown immensely with 85 percent CAGR in revenue over the last four years and has been profitable throughout. “Our vision was to streamline operations by FY 2019-20 and we achieved it. Although we faced external challenges during COVID-19, our operations did not suffer as we had already done our homework,” says Ravi.
Major tech hubs in the country like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Noida are the driving source of their revenue, however, with the lockdown, the firm has also started to receive requests from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. Recently, they have tied up with employees of Google, Nasdaq, Facebook, CISCO, LinkedIn, Uber, HPCL, Ericsson and RedHat etc, to help them set up their work-from-home offices. In the past, they have also tied up with major gaming cafes in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad to cater to the increasing demands of the Indian gaming industry.
The startup now has a 75+ member team and a tech-equipped office -cum-warehouse capable of handling over 1,000 shipments per day. With strategic partnerships with vendors and suppliers, today they deliver pan-India to approximately 20,000 pin codes. They also have a user-friendly website with technologies like 3D images and AR to help customers choose the best product. Following Ravi’s desire to create wealth for the employees, the startup has recently rolled out a favourable ESOP program as well.
The road ahead
With operational processes streamlined and a strong and ever-growing talented team, Green Soul Ergonomics is now focusing on scaling up the business. They are focussing on R&D to come up with improved ergonomic designs and working closely with supplier partners to increase production capacity, post which they will invest their energy into marketing and promotions to target potential customers.
Initially, their products were made in India, but over time, when Ravi realised that high-level features needed to be incorporated, he visited foreign manufacturing facilities to understand how. Half of their chairs are manufactured overseas and he wants to change that. “Our mission is to source and manufacture our entire product line in India and contribute towards the vision of self-reliant India,” he says. Ravi adds that one-day delivery pan India is also on his checklist and he’s working on improving the supply chain, by setting up warehouses in multiple locations.
Looking forward, Green Soul Ergonomics will be a part of the Indian growth story. The team is focussed on the health and well-being of customers and is doing their bit to help them incorporate work from home into their lives in the most effective manner. “We are working on increasing awareness about the ill impact of bad posture, which can easily creep up while working from home. The acceptance of DIY products and e-commerce is increasing, and we see ourselves touching the lives of millions by providing them with the healthiest seating solutions and help India work comfortably and safely from their homes and offices,” says Ravi.