During his first year of engineering, Ranodeep Saha from Kolkata started painting kulhads for an extra income.

In 2015, during a college fest, the 27-year-old bought terracotta kulhads from local artisans, handpainted them in vibrant colours, and put them up for sale.

He received many inquiries, leading him to realise the potential market for hand-painted kulhads. And that’s how his venture Rare Planet began.

Ranodeep started selling these kulhads at a book stall near his home, and was able to earn Rs 1.5 lakh in a month. Buoyed, he started selling the products in other bookstores across Kolkata.

“Many were unwilling to give me shelf space because I was a student and they thought I wouldn’t be able to run a business. I had to literally plead. Some doors closed, but some opened,” he says.

The terracotta kulhads are twice baked in the furnace, and then kept out in the sun to harden for increased durability. They are non-sticky, reusable, and microwave and dishwasher-proof.

With help from a college friend, Ranodeep also launched the Rare Planet website, and started selling his hand-painted products to customers online.

In 2019, he met his co-founder Vijaya Kumar TR, an experienced retail and lifestyle professional who helped expand their footprint.

Apart from terracotta kulhads, the company also makes jewellery, pottery, bottles, handicrafts, stationary and home decor products.

Today, the startup sells indigenous handicrafts made using terracotta, copper, wood, ceramic, brass, and marble, providing livelihoods to over 10,000 local artisans from all over India.

On Shark Tank India Season 1, the company received an investment of Rs 65 lakh from Namita Thapar. Now, she has taken a partial exit with a 3.5 times return on her investment.

"The reason #RarePlanet needs to be highlighted and celebrated is not just because it is the largest success story of Shark Tank India Season 1 (up from 75 lakhs a month sales to 4 crores a month) but because it has proved that doing good and being a highly profitable business can co–exist", Namita Thapar shared in a post.

The brand is now present at over 37 airports with 50 stores nationwide. The company has diversified its offerings, introducing Rare Planet Luxe, a luxury format.

“Initially, I was Rare Planet’s only artisan, but now we have over 10,000. They come from 18 clusters, including Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat. We work like an army, and every artisan is equally important here,” shares Ranodeep.