Speaking about the Journey so far, Melblok’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Karan Ratti said,
Karan Ratti is the Chief Marketing Officer, Melblok & Founder CEO and CSO of Ratti Corporation, which is headquartered in India and New York. The company operates the premium Anti-Pigmentation skincare brand “Melblok”. Ratti Corporation is a Beauty Company he started upon returning to India after graduating from New York University in 2011. Karan’s vision behind starting Ratti was to develop High-Performance Cosmetic products to solve fundamental beauty concerns providing consumers with dramatic results and not just dramatic claims! In 2016, after 5 years of R&D, Karan launched “Melblok“, a High-Performance Skin Care brand for Pigmentation that is backed by patented technologies which he developed while in New York. Ever since then, Melblok has become the best-known premium brand for Anti-Pigmentation in India. Karan is also the Co-founder of a hair care company Sūun Ayurveda Inc. New York, and also developed the brand’s full range of Ayurveda inspired all-natural products. Karan is currently working on a range of fine fragrances and plans to expand in other domains of beauty care.
His Background & Experience
Karan is a Master of Science (MS) Graduate in Biology from New York University, with research specialization in Regenerative Dermatology and Hair Biology. Karan also studied at the NYU Stern School of Business taking a special interest in leadership and entrepreneurship.
Karan’s expertise in Science and Biology runs deep – In his undergraduate days, he has worked at the Organ Retrieval and Banking Organization (ORBO) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; the Department of Molecular Biology at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi; as well as in the department of Research and Development & Analytical and Formulation at Biocon Limited, Bangalore, where he put focus in the fields of stem cell biology, molecular biology and pharmaceutical processing respectively. While in New York University, in addition to studying at the Graduate School of Arts & Science and NYU Stern School of Business, Karan was also an Adjunct Instructor of Undergraduate Genetics at NYU. Karan also worked in the Department of Dermatology and Cell Biology at the NYU Langone Medical Center where he was distinguished for and published his work in understanding adult hair formation. He was the pioneering scientist who along with his team there discovered new molecular pathways that govern hair formation – an area for which we’re all desperately waiting for a solution!
If you look at it, there are only a handful of actual beauty concerns everyone faces, but there are so many cosmetic products out there perhaps in the millions. It says something – that most products fail at delivering what they claim. Yet, beauty brands continue to market an ever more diverse range of products always enticing hope in consumers towards more beautiful looks! Somewhere, that’s unethical. I wanted to change that by developing targeted solutions for the most fundamental beauty concerns. They don’t need to be miracle cures, but at the least, they should improve the condition for which the customer is buying the product. With this in mind, I started Ratti Corporation.
I envision my venture to be a multi-brand beauty company with a global reach that develops solutions for every essential cosmetic concern, especially the ones that are difficult to solve. I get excited working in the grey areas and separating the black from the white, finding solutions to difficult problems. I am also a perfectionist who likes to develop seamless products with the highest levels of quality and consumer experience. I wanted Ratti to be a company which strives for accelerated growth but does it with integrity, with values and principles that work in the interest of not only its consumers but also the society and all life on the planet. What name could appropriately describe such a company? At that point, I realized that the company is uniquely characterized by what I personally stand for, so it became a no brainer to attach my personal brand behind it and name it after my surname “Ratti”.
About the brand Melblok, originally it was a clinical treatment based on natural ingredients started by my parents who are both Doctors, highly qualified cosmetic surgeons practicing at their clinic in New Delhi. Later I decided to transform this clinical treatment into a scalable cosmetic brand for Skin Pigmentation. The word itself is coined from two words ‘Melanin’ (the pigment that gives our skin color) and ‘Blok’ a play on the word “block”. So technically it’s about ‘blocking’ pigmentation but actually, the products help ‘resolve’ pigmentation at the root for long-lasting clarity and brightness.
Melblok is a brand with amazing products. I really worked hard at developing the right products that improve pigmentation overtime which is a difficult problem to solve. It’s not like you can just apply the product and expect results overnight. Most people have Pigmentation Prone Skin (skin that gets tanned easily and therefore has a higher chance of getting pigmentation like dark spots, patchy darkness, stubborn tanning, dullness, and uneven skin tone). It takes a skin care system that goes deep into the skin to dislodge pigmentation at the root while preventing more pigmentation from happening. People who’ve used Melblok’s Day & Night System have seen visible improvement within 28 days of using the products and that’s great!
Some people ask me, how is it different from fairness? The answer is that it’s actually very different! fairness products exploit your wish to get fairer skin, lighter than your original skin tone which to me is morally incorrect. But the problem is that most people don’t even want fair skin, they want clear skin, free from excess darkness so their skin gets Even Toned and Bright, NOT White! It’s a real problem. You were born with even, clear skin which over time with the use of bad cosmetics, skin treatments or just environmental stresses went dark and started looking cluttered. Melblok helps to reduce pigmentation to help bring back your original bright and even-toned skin. Melblok’s not a miracle cure, but I believe it’s a better Anti-Pigmentation product than anything else out there.
Did you face any Challenges?
Challenges will always be a part of any one’s life and especially entrepreneurs’. For example, while starting my company and simultaneously Melblok, being the sole founder of the company I had to essentially do everything myself. Right down to sourcing nuts and bolts for Ratti Corporation’s manufacturing facility, not to mention, developing its products, packaging, writing content, designing the website, photographing products, advertising and yes, talking to customers. Typically, entrepreneurs start with a team of key people, hire others and outsource several of these activities from the start, but I in-sourced a lot of these to save costs. It helped me shape the brand the way I wanted and maintain a close eye on quality. But it required intense working hours. I worked 20 hours a day, for 7 days a week over several years. The end result is that today, Ratti Corp has several strategic advantages over other startups and has developed deep in-house capabilities in several areas of a beauty business with the Number One skincare brand for Pigmentation.
In my opinion, any entrepreneur who thinks of work-life balance is either not enjoying her/his work or is getting pressured by others in his life to share more time which he is unable to manage. I say that because if one is really enjoying their work then work and life is one and the same thing and if you’re that kind, you’ll be able to manage working while living and living while working. Yes, there are times when I’ve gotten a nudge or two from my family to stop thinking about work while spending time with them, but I keep it to a minimum and it’s something they’ve accepted as a part of an entrepreneur’s life.
Out of the busy schedule, how much time do you take out for yourself to focus on your health and inner peace?
I usually start my day early and hit the gym, followed by yoga before having breakfast and starting my day. Despite my best intentions I always end up working late because either I’m enjoying what I’m doing or there are pending tasks. I do, however, try to leave some time for a change of scene by either going for a long walk/jog in nature (generally at Siri fort’s walking track) or a swim or simply relax at home and have dinner over a movie, catching up with family or friends. Before hitting the bed, I like to study a bit, something I don’t get time for during the workday which serves the dual purpose of helping me relax (contrary to belief) and adding to my work.
How do you manage Work-Stress
Early on in my business, I would get stressed a lot, but later I realized that problems are a part of life, in fact, they are problems only if one is apprehensive about encountering obstacles. As a scientist, I have a mindset of finding solutions immediately to any problem, the act of becoming distressed comes secondary to me. When that does happen, I view obstacles as resistance to flow and resolve them to make the business better instead of mourning their encounter. But despite that, things can sometimes get very intense, overpowering your state of mind. For that, I found that yoga specifically kriya yoga helped me create a mental composition that prevented a reactionary attitude converting it instead to a responsive one which brought a lot of ease in dealing with problems. And for those problems that transcend all boundaries of sanity, there is family to act as a support structure.
Any misconceptions about the industry
Depends on which side one is looking from.
From the consumer’s point of view, one misconception is that beauty products need to be miracle cures and that cheap products can deliver that. First, it’s possible for make-up to give instant results but for skin or hair, time is everything. It takes 28 to 32 days for the skin to turn over (grow from the base layer to the surface) so any skin care product would take that long to show its results. Expecting it to work faster is pushing for something bad to happen. Second, there really actually ‘is’ a difference between expensive and inexpensive products when it comes to either safety or efficacy.
From a business point of view, many entrepreneurs aiming to grow in the field and even investors looking to invest in this highly under-invested industry are applying technical factors from other industries on it and hoping for accurate insight into its growth potential. This is the reason many have failed at achieving success. The Beauty industry has more to do with emotion than strategy. In fact, it’s the strategy of emotion. It is a mix of the Fashion Industry, FMCG and the service sector, a balance of all three. Entrepreneurs treating it like FMCG will not be able to attain high margins and end up in a low-priced volume game with low customer loyalty, high marketing spends and high startup costs. Those that treat it as the service sector will achieve loyalty but curtail growth and have high operational costs; while those treating it like the fashion industry will achieve brand value but with low margins and high customer acquisition costs. Figuring out the right balance will help companies transition away from the traditional low-price model India has been wound in, to the higher price, high margins model with sustainable growth and high brand value. All of these are important for building an attractive business for buyers, both customers, and acquirers.
Anything else you think is important to highlight
“The value of a brand is as good as its product. If the product doesn’t work, the brand has no value.” – Karan Ratti
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