After completing her engineering in information technology from SRM University, Chennai, Surabhi Shah chose the multinational route to gain practical knowledge and experience. Hailing from a business family, the end goal was always entrepreneurship.
She completed two years at TCS, and then joined her family business as an employee to gain hands-on experience. After getting married to Nirmit Shah, she moved to Indore, where the seeds of her startup, Carragreen, were sown.
It all fell into place when Surabhi saw an image of a helpless tortoise with growth deformity that had happened because it had swallowed the cap of a plastic bottle.
In 2018, she founded Carragreen, a startup that produces biodegradable stationery and packaging solutions. The product range includes pens, pencils, seed paper diaries, and monthly calendars.
Apart from this, perforated biodegradable boxes that can be used to pack and transfer food articles and transform into plates and spoons when required are also part of its product list. Carraspoons, made from wood, are a bestseller product.
The Founders of Carragreen, Chetna Shah and Surabhi Shah, on Shark Tank India
Carragreen, incubated at IIM-Bangalore, was also among the top 100 women-led startups out of 6,000 selected for a course by NSRCEL.
“The organisation gave us a wonderful opportunity to get whittled by experienced mentors, with extensive networking and learning from fellow entrepreneurs,” Surabhi says.
Her mother-in-law, Chetna Shah, soon joined Carragreen as a partner.
Of the partnership, Surabhi says, It makes a lot of difference when a family member is backing you up or joining you in professional life. “My mother-in-law has sound experience in the bakery business and this has helped us innovate our products for best experiences. Apart from the knowledge, her networking in Indore and also in other states helps the business.”
“Also, I feel when you share three meals with a person a day, the quotient of mutual understanding is high. A lot is discussed at the dinner table too, thus saving a lot of our time in the office,” she says.
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“With her being a mother, her protective nature keeps me stress free, because apart from the motherly care she gives, she takes away the feel of any kind of threat that usually occurs if you partner with an outsider,” Surabhi adds.
Apart from B2B, it is also looking at executing a co-branding model, which will have commercial benefits, apart from expanding the customer base.
While there are several eco-friendly brands making sustainable products, Surabhi believes there are very few companies providing eco-friendly packaging solutions. Also, its Carrabox design is patented.
The startup recently acquired Rs 50 lakh in funding on Shark Tank India from sharks Peyush Bansal and Anupam Mittal. The duo had earlier invested around Rs 6.5 lakh received from the IIM grant.
“The plan to scale is in place – we wish to create innovative reusable packaging for not only food but other consumer products too. First, we need to create awareness and advertise the products to the correct channels. Digital marketing campaigns and product development are in the pipeline. We really hope to increase our network and learnings with guidance from Peyush and Anupam, and are looking forward to creating the best eco-friendly packaging brand in India,” Surabhi says.