Aishwarya Ramesh

Ex-adman Jaideep Mahajan turns marketer with sanitisation startup Svish

Svish claims to have a range of ‘COVID essentials’ in the form of no gas hand sanitiser spray and biodegradable gadget disinfectant wet wipes.

When Jaideep Mahajan decided to take a break from advertising and quit his job last year, little did he know that the sabbatical would result in him starting his own venture. His wife and son had relocated to Toronto, Canada, for a project and he was set to join them. However, India’s COVID-induced lockdown in March prevented him from leaving the country.

Mahajan has worked in advertising for the past two decades and his last stint was as national creative head at Rediffusion. He has worked at agencies like Leo Burnett, McCann Worldgroup, Lintas, JWT, Contract Advertising, to name a few.

He looks back on his career and says that it provided him with an opportunity like no other. Even though he was stuck alone (in India), with limited resources, even ‘living out of a suitcase’ at one point, he thought it was the right time to begin his venture Svish, a company in the anti-bacterial and sanitising space.

Mahajan explains that his friend and (Svish) founder Ishan Grover was one of the early businessmen to dabble in craft brewing beers in India. Grover’s business had also taken a hit because of the (COVID) pandemic and the resulting lockdown. The two saw it as an opportune time to get the business going. This is how Svish was founded.

The Svish website
The Svish website

Mahajan has taken on the role of co-founder and chief marketing officer at Svish. He recalls that he and Grover initially spent 5-6 months researching on the types of products to introduce in the market.

“People had said that this is the best time to get into the sanitiser business, but we didn’t want to do just that. Many people saw an opportunity to make money and took it. We wanted to make an impact in the long run,” Mahajan says.

Jaideep Mahajan
Jaideep Mahajan

He adds that most of the products to sanitise and disinfect in the market had their own share of pitfalls. Sometimes the product made the skin sticky, sometimes it made the skin feel dry, sometimes a product smelled clinical, and other times, the packaging and design was too unappealing. Mahajan wanted to address issues like these.

So far, Svish’s product lineup includes surface disinfectant sprays, alcohol-free anti-bacterial gadget wipes and hand sanitiser sprays.

A screenshot from Svish's website
A screenshot from Svish's website

Mahajan mentions that he does not just want to target ‘protection’ for users at home. Svish’s TG are those who are moving outdoors after India has ‘unlocked’. “Think of business executives taking cabs, employees attending meetings. We want to target an audience in the 18-30-year-old category.”

He says that his advertising experience has helped him understand how to conceptualise and market his products, though it has been challenging to design a product from scratch. He mentions during the course of the conversation that he has always been interested in art, design, painting and so on, but did not find the time to pursue these interests while working in advertising.

Mahajan adds that sanitiser is a fairly new category in India – one that used to be helmed by companies like Dettol and HUL’s Lifebuoy. He says that Svish has products like a sanitising face wash and mask disinfectants in the pipeline. The company has been listed on Flipkart and Amazon, and its products are available on the two websites. In the future, Svish hopes to collaborate with restaurants or cab companies to help provide support sanitising spaces and surfaces.

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