When Ashish Chopra was looking to buy some heeled shoes for men, he was shocked by the limited options available. Given that only a handful of companies cater to the queer community for non-gendered clothing, Chopra decided to take matters into his own hands and launched BeUnic in 2019 along with his mother Simmi Nanda and brother Vishesh Chopra.
Noida-based BeUnic is a queer-owned, community-driven platform for LGBTQ+ creators and entrepreneurs. They sell products across eight categories and also have a resources tab which offers information such as news, support groups, content to explore, among others.
The products are sold by over 30 individual entrepreneurs on the platform. Ashish, co-founder of BeUnic told Entrackr, “We have a mix of those who reach out to us wanting to put up their products on our website and those we reach out to and onboard. The only clause is they should be part of the queer community.”
The creators onboarded are given two options: either the company takes care of the shipping and in turn a certain amount is charged as commission or the creators themselves can handle the shipping and delivery and the commission charged will be lesser.
The main aim of the company is to build and bring together a community of queer creators. The community is still very small, we want our company to be a safe space for queer creators said Nanda, co-founder and CEO of BeUnic.
Apart from running the e-commerce store and offering resources, the trio also hold corporate training, workshops, and placements. Various sessions are held in office settings discussing topics of workplace inclusivity, sensitization, and acceptance. In terms of placements, the company has provided opportunities for members of the community to be placed in major corporations like LinkedIn and Microsoft.
BeUnic started its journey at the Startup Incubation Hub – IIM Bangalore – NSRCEL and recently made its way to Shark Tank. Nanda said, “We saw a huge increase in our number of customers and supporters after appearing on Shark Tank. Yes, we didn’t get the funding we were looking for, but we had a lot of people reaching out to us and telling us how much they appreciated the work we were doing.”
The company currently has around 4000 monthly visitors and 7000 customers. With a mix of unique and repeat users, the platform sees a total traction of about 12,000 users. The company recently decided to focus on the Indian market even though it ships to over 12 countries as well.
There’s clearly a need for such a platform: According to a Paris-based marketing company, India is home to almost 56 million LGBTQ+ adults yet the market is not explored and tapped into.
Locally, BeUnic competes with Pride Circle and Mist, whereas its international competitors include Wildfang and Otherwild. The company aims at horizontal scaling and reaching a global level with its platform and community.
BeUnic plans on focusing on well-performing product categories and creating content that is informative and relatable. It also plans on moving into a hybrid model of B2B and D2C. Along with partnering with other businesses and NGOs, it also plans on acquiring stock in bulk and increasing margins for scaling marketing and operations.