Let’s get real—Shark Tank India is nothing less than a national sensation at this point.
Across the last month, we’ve seen over 100 hungry young entrepreneurs rise and fall, clawing for a piece of India’s rampantly growing startup spotlight. From touching social causes to super-profitable strokes of genius, there’s one thing in common with everyone who receives a coveted cheque from the show’s iconic Sharks —a great story. As the curtain call approaches for one of the most memorable seasons of Indian television, we took a moment to learn one of these stories. It’s a tale of subverted expectations, strong family bonds, bold marketing moves, and a product that’s ready to hit millions of Indian men where it counts—below the belt.
This is the story of Nuutjob, India’s first male intimate hygiene company, and the two women who turned it into a Shark Tank success story.
Meet The Maloo Sisters
26-year-old Ananya and Anushree Maloo are just about as Ahmedabadi as you can get. Raised in a close-knit joint family, the two ‘sisters’ are actually cousins. Born just 15 days apart, they function much like twins—even finishing each other’s sentences!
While the sisters have entrepreneurial blood flowing through their veins, their backgrounds aren’t as business-oriented as you might expect. Ananya kicked off her career in the entertainment industry, working first as a marketing professional, before switching gears to public relations. Anushree, on the other hand, ran business operations for a modular kitchen company – which unfortunately got sidelined in the midst of the pandemic.
So, where does male intimate hygiene come into the picture? If there’s anything we can learn from the Maloos— it’s that great business ideas come from the most unexpected places.
How Nuutjob Came To Be
If you’ve lived in a household with men—particularly middle aged Indian men—chances are that you’ve come across the suspicious sight of talcum powder, strewn across a bathroom floor. From Johnson and Johnson to Nycil and Cinthol, India’s sweltering climate necessitates the use of talcum powder, particularly to prevent chafing, irritation, and skin issues for men, especially down under.
In Ahmedabad where the temperature can touch 50 degrees at the peak of summer, talcum powder is serious business. Its use became a daily phenomenon that the sisters noticed. especially with the whole family stuck indoors due to the pandemic.
“We were [usually] the last ones to go into the bathroom, and our fathers used a lot of talcum powder to keep them dry down there,” explains Ananya. “It started off with us getting, honestly, a bit irritated—maybe use a little less powder? It was so slippery. There were so many times that Anushree and I slipped and fell down in the bathroom, but we just let it go!”
After this domestic annoyance became a topic of conversation between the sisters, they decided to corner their fathers. “We asked them, ‘Why do you use so much talcum powder? It’s not like we don’t feel hot or uncomfortable, but why do you need the kind of talcum powder that you’re using?”
It’s an amusing scene straight out of a lighthearted desi comedy— both fathers were naturally embarrassed to talk about dusting their privates, and remained shy regarding their personal hygiene. Never the kind to back down, the sisters pressed on.
“We pestered them a little, and they told us that this is something they really needed to keep themselves dry. The conversation then drifted to us trying to find an alternative to talcum powder. This is where the idea for Nuutjob was first synthesized.”
To their surprise, the sisters discovered that men didn’t have a dedicated product to help them in this space, and that they were using the clumsy, outdated method of talcum powder for generations. “Anushree and I realized that this is something we faced as a personal problem and that we would like to maybe address it in the form of a business.”
Breaking Cultural Taboos
Needless to say, the fact that two women had to come together to create a male intimate hygiene product speaks volumes about Indian men, as well as the self-care market that caters to their needs.
It also raises the question: How did people react to a business idea that would be considered taboo, especially for women?
“So, of course, Ananya and I are at a ‘marriageable age’,” explains Anushree, who is married herself. “The concern came up from family members, particularly their grandparents and mothers, would people object to our business? Would anyone approach us with marriage proposals?
We’re from a typical joint Marwadi family; they were worried that we may regret putting our photos and our product online as two girls, working on a business like this.”
Fortunately, after explaining their business idea and insisting that they were passionate and committed to it, their family decided to support them. A huge part of this, in fact, comes down to the two men who inspired the product itself—Anushree and Ananya’s fathers.
“We mentioned at Shark Tank that our fathers have been our greatest support. They said, “if you really feel for a brand like this, then we’re behind you,” said Ananya. “Anushree and I both rebelled against people—the naysayers who brought us down and told us that women should not be doing something like this. We believed that a brand like this would work.
Anushree and I obviously couldn’t try on the product, so our fathers became our guinea pigs! They were really happy to test these products for us, when we were in the process of getting the formula right, and they would give us feedback. Till now they’ve been really supportive of everything that we’ve done.”
Ultimately, the duo put in one year of work before making it to Shark Tank India. After several product tests, branding developments, and long nights, the two finally appeared on the show’s 10th episode:
From their amusing skit intro (where the sisters showed up dressed up as a pair of suspiciously itchy men), to their confident brand propositions, and even the anatomically accurate logo, Nuutjob takes what Ananya describes as a ‘ballsy’ approach. It’s something unlike the more subtle branding you’d see on V-Wash, Nuutjob’s female counterpart in the Indian market, or any personal hygiene brand on the market.
“The message is obviously very different,” remarks Ananya. “What we plan to do with a brand is to intertwine education and entertainment – it’s something that sticks with audiences because they can initially laugh, and over a period of time, have real conversations.
We wanted to be a ballsy brand that you can associate with – not feel shy about buying and keeping in your bathroom. We like to say that cleanliness is next to manliness – so why not?”
What’s Next For Nuutjob?
“Currently, we are building our team,” says Ananya. “Anushree and I were doing everything till now, and it’s gotten a bit too much. We’re also talking to the Sharks, who are giving us a lot of input on how we can rework things. We’ve also focused on a few more product changes in the near future, and we’ve got a few products in the pipeline.”
“Maybe we’ll start a subscription service,” adds Anushree. “I’m sure once you’re going to Nuutjob, you won’t like it any other way!”
In the end, it all worked out, giving the sisters a much-deserved win at the end of a year-long slog. “We came out crying and singing ‘We Are The Champions’,” says Ananya, with a smile. “I am really glad Anushree and I started something like this. Touchwood, we hope to make a difference… and maybe help change India’s mind.”
(Featured Image Credits: Sony Pictures Television)