The Scent Of Success : Kiran V Ranga

His designation reads Managing Director and ‘Master Fragrance Creator’. He is a creative perfumer who will tell you that lavender fragrance can relax the mind and body, while vanilla can help you focus better. “Research shows that fragrances can impact emotions and behaviour,” he says. Meet Kiran V Ranga, scion of one of Mysore’s foremost business families, who as founder of Ripple Fragrances, is steering ahead his passion for perfumery in the national and overseas markets. Kiran chats up with RITZ about his upcoming business plans and his extensive interest in wildlife photography and motorcycling.

His grandfather, the illustrious entrepreneur and philanthropist N Ranga Rao put the humble agarbatti or incense stick, on the world map. And now decades later, Kiran Ranga is determined to do the same with his bouquet of aroma products. From reed diffusers to fragrance vapourizers, pot pourri, aroma candles, fragrance pouches to pillow misters, he wants all his ‘Iris’ products to become global brands. “Just like our Cycle Pure Agarbattis,” he says of the incense sticks marketed by his family run NR Group, which are today exported to different corners of the world.

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After his graduation in Business and Perfumery from the University of Plymouth, Kiran branched out into aroma products by starting Ripple Fragrances, as a division of the Rs.1,000 crore NR Group and spearheaded the development of novel fragrance delivery systems.

“Everything from a candle to a reed diffuser and a pillow mister is a channel that delivers fragrances in a unique way. Iris provides the complete sensory experience as it’s not just the fragrance, but the design, form and texture of the product that makes it appealing. It is stylish and superbly complements the décor of the home or office,” says Kiran, adding that people’s needs are evolving and fragrancing their homes and offices is gaining in credence.

Kiran worked in the agarbatti division, gained experience in retail, strategy and manufacturing, and then started Ripple Fragrances in 2005, which is today growing at over 50% per year

Research reveals that fragrances can have varied impacts on the mind. Iris fragrances that are a perfect blend of natural oils and aromatic compounds have been created to invoke a set of emotions, says Kiran, who has himself developed over 50 fragrances. “They have been designed to rejuvenate and relax the mind and create a healthier environment.” Presently, Iris products are available in over 2,000 outlets in India. “We plan on reaching 2,700 outlets by December this year,” tells the dynamic man.  Kiran’s other prominent brand Lia, which markets room and car fresheners, is slated to be present in 50,000 outlets by December.  

The potential for fragrances is huge, says the perfumer, stating that the rise in air conditioned homes and establishments is driving the need for aroma products. Industry estimates peg the market for air care (minus agarbattis) at Rs. 450 crore in India. “That includes room fresheners, diffusers, candles, pot pourri and others,” says Kiran.

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Riding on this potential, he started a boutique chain, Iris Aroma, with the first boutique opening up on Bengaluru’s glitzy Lavelle Road three years ago. There are five Iris Aroma boutiques (with others being in Pune, Chennai and Mysore) and plans are afoot to add 10 more in the next two years, also in the Northern markets like NCR and Chandigarh.

The soft-spoken man joined NR Group 14 years ago, worked in the agarbatti division, gained experience in retail, strategy and manufacturing, and then progressed by starting Ripple Fragrances in 2005, which is today growing at over 50% per year.

He credits his family with having taught him the core of fragrance creation. “They’ve been dynamic in sealing and maintaining long-term partnerships with everyone, be it customers or vendors. I’ve also learned the importance of investing in innovation and R&D and maintaining ethical practices,” says Kiran, a key member of the Mysore motorcycling club, Malgudi Mavericks, through which he has gone on expeditions to Goa and Valparai.

Kiran branched out into aroma products by starting Ripple Fragrances, as a division of the Rs.1,000 crore NR Group

He has been passionate about the wildlife ever since he was a young boy, often visiting the Nagarhole and Bandipur reserves with his father. But it was three years ago at Masai Mara in Kenya that Kiran first picked up the camera. Since then there’s been no looking back. He has observed and photographed marine mammals in Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, birds in Costa Rica, salmons during the famous salmon run in British Columbia (Canada) and jaguars in the South of Brazil.  In India, he has time and again visited every reserve from Jim Corbett, Kaziranga, Bandhavgarh, to Sariska and Ranthambore.

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“But right at the moment, I have some solid plans with Ripple Fragrances,” he reveals, bringing the focus back to his first passion. He is also looking to consolidate Iris’ presence overseas. Currently, the products are retailed under the brand names of retails chains abroad. “Promoting a brand overseas is a very expensive proposition. So we do private labelling, wherein we make and design the products, but they are sold under the brand of the retail chain. We’re doing this in the US, UK, Europe and the Middle East.”

So will we get to see Iris as ‘Iris’ at retail counters abroad? “Yes that’s the next plan. But it will be in markets in South America, Eastern Europe, Russia and South Africa.”