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In this episode of Banking & Beyond at RBL Bank, catch Ameve Sharma, Co-founder, @Kapiva in conversation with @Rajeev Ahuja, Executive Director, RBL Bank. Watch the Baidyanath scion, as he takes us through his entrepreneurial journey of launching Kapiva, a modern age Ayurveda brand meant for generation of today.


Transcript:

Rajeev Ahuja

We’ve grown up on products of Baidyanath, so that needs no introduction. But walk me through at a personal level, you’ve been you’ve done your great schooling education. And you got involved in the business, then you spend some time with McKinsey outside. What kind of triggered this move? And what was the kind of, you know, things are always there. One is your lineages tell me that you, you’ve grown up on wellness & Ayurveda, but there must be something which triggered you know, I can actually change it in a different manner. So maybe walk me through at a personal level Ameve, what Ayurveda mean to you.

Ameve Sharma

Absolutely. So, Rajeev, and I did my undergrad in the US, and I came back to India, and then I worked in the family business for almost about six years. Right. My stint in the business, the first four years were very operational, right. In the last two years, what I realised is that as the family is getting larger, right, so I am third generation, the family, right? In my father’s generation, there were three or four people, right? And then beyond that, it’s getting larger and larger and larger, right? So the idea was to kind of have family step back from management, and bring in a professional management to run the company. Right? So the model now and model now is that we have a CEO, we have a CFO, CMO, they run operationally run the company completely. And then there’s a group of family members who do monthly review meetings, right? So the involvement in Baidyanath was reduced significantly, right? This was a concerted effort, because in the end of the day, even though there might be one person in the family who’s well suited to do something, right, or there might be a couple of people who are both right, but end of the day within family becomes a challenge, right? And who will listen to? Right, I will not required much, right. So, you know, I’m the kind of person who works 12 hours a day. So you know, working one day a week will not really option. So I was saying what next? And funnily enough, you know, Ayurveda was not the obvious answer. Right? So I was like, Okay, I can do anything. Right. What should I do next? Right. So my, so I thought, okay, I’ve done my undergrad, let me go do my MBA. And let me get some outside work experience, right. That’s something which I always felt that I was missing. So I got a job in New York, and after undergrad, but you know, at that time, I was required in the business, the family business, right. So I came back, but I’ve always wanted to work outside for a few years, went out, decided to do my MBA. So at that time, I had met who is my current co-founder, Shrey through a friend. And we got talking and we both wanted to kind of start something new. Right? So we both Okay, let’s quit our jobs. And let’s start a new business. But then the question came up, what are we going to start? So we started free bowling ideas. We started talking about, you know, should we get food? Could we look into the restaurant business? Should we look at making a fund, he hails from private equity, and I understood FMCG to some extent, lot of things were thrown about. Finally, the idea we can have came to us for multiple reasons, right? So the reason we chose Ayurveda, again, right after everything, was first of all, opportunity was huge, right? felt that right now, if you look at India, look at global look at the world, everybody’s moving towards natural moving towards herbal. Right, there was a definite tailwind. And there was definitely a big advantage that I had coming from my background and my knowledge of the market and my knowledge of sourcing, right. The other 2.4 second point was more around, you know, there was always a vision I had for Baidyanath right? catering to a younger audience, you know, okay for her being more innovative in our product selection, and also going down a path which is closer to the way I consume Ayurveda at home. Okay, Ayurveda for me at home is much more in my daily life, right? And at the end of the day, what is Ayurveda, Ayurveda is a good nutrition and that’s when it is most effective, you know, that when you eat Ayurveda before that’s been most effective, not after. So that’s the whole kind of dream of Kapiva came from right. And we started, we started initially with the old store model, but we realised that wasn’t a very scalable model and fmcg model made a lot of sense, so roughly around early 2018, late 2017 we launched what you see today as Kapiva.

Rajeev Ahuja

You chose, a totally different approach than the Baidyanath. I mean, whether or not his position traditionally it comes out traditionally. I mean, if you hadn’t told me that you have a new set of people I mean, I identify Baidyanath, you know, and the way we grew up I mean, I used to have Aawla and aawla ka murabba, all of these things, every day. And that was with a view to actually make it more appealable relevant for an audience to probably, you know, if I tell my kids to have, you know, awla and ayurveda, I say that they kind of turn their nose up, you know, and, and fact of the matter is, my daughter actually now gets flaxseeds, you because they are packaged differently and you know what? If I were to tell her to have flaxseeds, she would say a no. Tell me a little bit about that as to how that thinking came? It is only because you guys were in the same kind of generation? How did that? Did you do some testing? Did you talk to your friends? Did you talk to the market? How was that?

Ameve Sharma

So you know, actually, funnily enough, you know, I would love to say that it was just the, you know, all professions like a great study we did and came out of that. But it actually came out of experience, right. So when we launched, so like I told you, before we launched Kapiva. In its current version, we launched a physical store, right? In the physical store, we had a bunch of different products, right? What we very quickly found that the second we put Ayurveda in a food format, right? People are much more willing to try it. Right? If I tell a 25 to 30 year old, right, that, hey, you know, what here is a capsule, he is like, but I’m not sick. You know, I’m like heres a churan. They will be like, are you mad, I am not having churan, how am I having that right. So the younger generation was not interested in the traditional form factor. And the so called even the modern ayurveda, which is your pharmaceutical version of it, right? Capsule, what I found, at the second it was in a food format, it was like, yea I am cool to have juice in the morning, not a big deal. Right? It’s part of my part of my diet was they are used to doing things like that, you know, because the West is a. It’s really funny though, if you look at it, the two biggest superfoods in the West are ashwagandha and turmeric, right. So India has exported Ayurveda to the US and now US is exporting superfoods, it is actually avyurveda right, it has come full circle. Really funny. Same thing happened with Yoga, right? yoga was not cool in India, then the US stole it. And now the US is resending it back to us. Right? thing that is cool in a nicer packaging. It takes up yoga, right? So, you know, I saw that happening in the US anyway. The idea was that why doesn’t the Indian company take the lead, right? Why does the Indian company be in the forefront of this? This is something which is our heritage, there’s something which is our knowledge, right? We should be owning them. When we initially launched a very simple thought process, right, the thought process was that, okay, let’s go through a food food form factor. We’ll start with juices, right? Something that I love to do is that I love to speak to customers, right? I think very often in businesses, and I saw this in Baidyanath as well, right? You don’t have enough of a close connection with your customer. And sometimes we lose that that gap, right? So in baidyanath, not the only thing we were always obsessed about was quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, like my whole generation, my family was obsessed with buying the raw material, the right manufacturing process, the right efficacy, which was very important, and which is why the company is kind of is where it is today. Right? But nobody cared about marketing. No one cared about it, right? And I think really important, if you talk to the customer, of course, the customer loves the quality, the customer loves the product, but when they try it, how do you get consumer trials to increase? So I noticed in my stint at Baidyanath, I saw a gap, where, you know, we didn’t understand what, how to get to the customer properly. So in Kapiva, I made it a, sort of thing that I need to speak to customers every week, who started to call 20-30 customers every week, pretending to be a customer care executive, and started talking to them and understanding why they taking the current products, what they don’t like, or the current products, what they don’t like about other companies, products that they have taken. And the big thing that came up mostly post our first product, is that Ayurveda is associated with bad taste right? First associations with Ayurveda is taste bad, so nobody young wants to take it right at 25 you don’t care if you consume one gram of sugar. But you care if something tastes horrible, right? You know, you know Ayruveda is also associated with not a clear outcome. Right? delight Okay, what what is the clear outcome? Right? So

Rajeev Ahuja

This is quite, quite an insight. You’re right. Absolutely. Right. I mean, we you people want immediate gratification. Yes, no.

Ameve Sharma

So we started designing our products accordingly to them, right. So the next products we launched were our shakes right? Well, shakes are a shake you can mix in either water or milk. You know, it has all your micro micronutrient micronutrients and ayurvedic herb, just in that one shake you get entire dosage of ayurvedic herb, tastes good, Very easy to consume. Very convenient, right? At the same time, we’ve positioned it to solve a certain problem, which is measurable, right? So the kind of problem we solve now our energy, right, so you get a little pick me up, something like Brahmni Ashwagandha gives you pick me up within a couple of days make you feel better, right? You know, digestion. So if you make amla, etc for a week, immediately, our system will improve skin and hair, right? So the biggest issue with skin, when we apply things on top, you know, external externally, but the biggest problem is actually nutrition. You lose hair, skin goes back to the nutrition, right? And things like aloe and amla, actually, you can see results within a week. Right? So we made our products in such a way where we are talking to younger women who are having like a problem, that things are measurable, like don’t trust us wait for the result. Right. And we try to make it back to the product in such a way where it was not only convenient, but tasty. Right. So the next, our next one, like I said, was our sorry, our shakes. Our shakes are doing very well. Post shakes, we launched something called the first herbal gummy. So the gummies that you can have. It has one gram of sugar. Right? But it has a full dosage of Amla full dose of aloe that you need. Right? And it is safe, convenient, easy, right? So you know, on one end, we realise we have a customer who saying that, okay, I am a purist. I just want to clean amla juice, I just want the clean wheatgrass juice, I want no sugar. But on one hand, we have a customer who says I don’t mind having one gram of sugar, but I’m not gonna take the taste of it. So you know, we started making a product more and more and more accessible, more and more convenient, and more and more easy to take. Right? Finally now we launched two new products that have just done a soft launch. It’s the first ayurvedic breakfast. Right? So this is basically a multigrain breakfast with ayurvedic herbs, which tastes really good, right. And then we’ve also launched now effervescent, which is like a powder mixed in water and you drink. So the idea now going forward, is convenience and taste.

Rajeev Ahuja

Walk me through this ayurvedic breakfast, it is something very, very interesting. Did you pick this up from your customer conversations?

Ameve Sharma

Absolutely. So it came from the customer conversation. But of course, we did a bunch of research around what is the right way to do it. The insight that we got from the customer was that? You know what? With your juice, I have to remember to take it every morning, right? When I wake up, sometimes I forget. Right? With your shake, I have to remember to drink it every day, right? Sometimes I forget. Can you do something where I don’t have to remember? automatically in my daily life? I’m consuming my ayurvedic herb. Right? And we thought about it. What are the good we are doing this, where we don’t have to actually create extra event for the consumer, but just included into the daily life. And the immediate thing that we came across, we did a bunch of research and came up with idea breakfast. So in every, every sort of we create a breakfast, we’ve taken nine months to create this product. We’re quite proud of it. But if you read like the description of it, we like every single thing that the customer asked for we put in that product, right? The customer has a low calories, right at 160 calories. Customer asked for, high protein, customer asked for high fibre, customer asked for full dosage of ayurvedic herbs. We have amla we have turmeric and we have giloy in the product, right? customer asked for that I should also have some micronutrients like zinc and vitamin C, we added that as well. Right? Customer asked for satiate, okay, should have a lot of that it should not just be one grain, you know, because multigrain is much healthier. We went into the research, what is the best grains for you? So oats are there, but we also added amaranth, we added green gram, we added barley, which are very, very high satiety, very high fibre, high protein, you know, and thought much healthier for you. So we actually went back took a bunch of problems made sure the product is something which is truly differentiated, you know, and kind of launched this product where you can get your entire dose of ayurveda and also have a very, very healthy breakfast, which is also very tasty, right? Initially, you know, very went to the r&d team. They’re like, this is what we want, like, Are you crazy? How’s this possible? Right? You can’t have a healthy tasty, avurvedic breakfast, right? Ayurvedic herb taste bad, how you gonna do it? But you know, we figured it out. We found taste, we went and we actually helped develop something called tasteless extracts right, where the active ingredient is present. But the actual taste is taste of the herb is reduced. Right. So we actually went through a lot of r&d and came up with this breakfast product and the insight came up from the customer.

Rajeev Ahuja

Fantastic to know your story, you know, at close quarters, the family which has been an Ayurveda for generations Yeh toh hona hi tha. Okay. I mean, what if you What if you did not grow up in Baidyanath family, what I mean as an individual? Would you have looked at it similarly, what would have been the starting position for you, because, you know, what you’re telling me is fantastic. But now I know you’ve done a lot of daily grind, we saw different, yet the source of the motion and the core is the same. I’m saying that was your core, but you expressed it differently, and you had your own learning curve. And if you saw yourself today, and maybe your co founder, he’s not from the same background, I just want to understand when you think about it, you’ve done your education, you work there, this was natural, or you are thinking now, you know, glad where you are, obviously, you can leverage your family’s experience. But how does that strike you when you reflect in a reflective mode?

Ameve Sharma

No, absolutely. I think my experience in the family was invaluable. Right? I think, a lot of things that we’ve done today, you know, I like to say, of course, and we have created this business as a standalone business, right? It’s a completely independent entity. But definitely, if it wasn’t for my background, a lot of things you would have gotten wrong, a lot of things have taken a lot longer to learn as well, right? I’ll give you some very simple examples, right? The insight that I came into, regarding this business, right, where the gaps were, where the opportunities were, you know, would have taken me years to figure it out. If I hadn’t had my, I would have never figured out honestly, I hadn’t had that background, the whole insight about how to use Ayurveda correctly, which is, which was the birth of the company, you know, came from the fact that I grew up in a Ayurvedic household. Right? That, you know, I know that, like, I’ve seen how Ayurveda is consumed at home, and hence, I was able to kind of come up with that hypothesis. Right? On top of that, on a practical level as well, you know, the biggest challenge Rajiv in Ayurveda is sourcing, right. So buying the right raw material, at the right time, from the right place, and finally at the right price of right, that is a huge challenge. Right. And that is a learning the supply chain side is a big learning that I came into the business with, right. And I knew I had my baidyanath network of suppliers, I had my baidyanath network manufacturers, for walking into the business with that ready and prepared, right, that is something which is invaluable that would have taken I think we, if he would have had to start this without my background, probably two, three years more to be where we are right now honestly. If we would have got here I go, I’m very, very grateful for having that kind of background and being able to leverage it.

Rajeev Ahuja

To me, you mentioned supply chain, and I’m thinking aloud that, you know, we as consumers are now getting more and more sensitive to how things are produced. And where is the source coming from? And I think the West is clearly you have those marks, you know, you know, it’s organic, and you think now, because of the family’s generations involvement with the supply chain and your insistence? And I’m sure a lot of good fmcg companies are also doing the same, you know, milk, and I saw that you do desi ghee of A2 milk and I suddenly we did strike me, are you seeing the supply chain also come up to standards, because people believe that this will be a better commercial, you know, commercially for them. And therefore there’s an audience and therefore, there’s a push back on the supply chain. Are you are you sensing that, that today, there’s a lot more awareness into suppliers.

Ameve Sharma

In Ayurveda, it is a very different setup, right, you’re buying from a farmer, there’s no large supplier, right? You need to develop your supply chain. So very sort of collaborative and hand holding approach where we worked with them. And that’s why our suppliers scale with us. That’s why suppliers keep on supplying to us at the right price. You know, even even if tomorrow somebody else comes in, say, Hey, can I buy from you? They say no, we grew up with kapiva. And that hows Baidyanath did it as well, that’s something I learned from Baidyanth. And we’ve been able to maintain quality and you know, sort of scalability in the supply chain to you know, working across the line in a very close rate, right. Regarding stamps, you know, things like organic and things like that right. Now, organic is a valuable thing, right but at the end of the day I think organic is also become somewhat of a gimmick, right? Some of our products we do we do organic right so for example, organic jaggery right. Makes sense, right? Because jaggery is something which is potentially could potentially be an issue right? If it grown anywhere, pesticides, is that right? organic ghee, right? We do organically and that does make sense because grass fed, people don’t want to feed the cow if he took all the milk is healthy, right? Simple as that. So a lot of things we do do organic but in a lot of herbal products, organic is actually irrelevant, right? So um, the amla we buy, for example is wild amla, we don’t buy something called Wild damn life also known as chota amla. So it’s smaller, but it’s much more nutritionally dense, right? And it’s grown in the wild. And you go, and you basically get a licence to pick it up different different people can pick certain amounts of it, right? And you buy directly from them. slightly more expensive. But it’s much healthier. Right. But of course, that will never be organic, certified, because it’s grown in the wild, right? But actually speaking, you can’t get more organic than that. Because it’s completely organic. It’s grown in a forest. Right? So you can’t really, a lot of our items Tulsi is wild our honey is wild honey. So we try to actually look at very sustainably taking out wild ingredients, which actually the healthiest you can get right? So a lot of people try to sell everything is organic. Right. But But that’s not the answer to everything. Certain things. Definitely. It has, but you have to look at each ingredient in a supply chain. And understand what’s the ideal kind of way to kind of procure it.

Rajeev Ahuja

You are four years now, what was the period when you really felt, You know, it was not working or you felt? I mean, what was that period when you really had to kind of go back to your inner strengths. I mean, really didn’t work. I mean, inspite of all the background and perseverance you had.

Ameve Sharma

Absolutely So. So we started the business, actually 3 years ago in the current avatar by the end of 2017. Just below 3 years. And when we launched initially, we actually got a fantastic product market fit. So we launched initially in Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, right. These we launched primarily offline initially, online was a smaller model. And we placed it we placed a product in about 600. stores. Right. And we saw great movement, great sale. And we were like, wow, this is a huge opportunity, right? I’ve never seen a product market fit like this. Let’s invest let’s grow very quickly. Right? Within four five months, right? We grew from three, four cities to 50 cities, right. And we grew from 500 stores to 10,000 stores. But that was a big mistake. We grew too quickly, too fast. Right? What we found is that in especially smaller town, there was no oversight. You know, salespeople are going and dumping stock at retailers, they were not putting the right product in the right location. There was no oversight in terms of collection. Right? So you know, we actually reached a point in early 2018, where we were like, Okay, what the hell is going on? Right? So it was a very scary point time in the business, like we’ve just started. And there’s so much going on that outright numbers don’t make sense. We had so many cities, are these guys go to the market? Are we running the safety? And it was a tough time. It was a time where, you know, we were like, what do we do? Literally then what we did was, we were okay, we need to sort this out. We took a hard decision at that time. Luckily, our online business was trying to pick up, right. We had that balance. We took the hard decision at that time there. Okay, we don’t want to be in 40 cities, didn’t want to be 50 cities. We’re gonna shut down 25 – 30 cities, right? Because this doesn’t make sense. We grew too quickly. Offline business needs to be controlled. And we need to monitor very closely, payments will be monitored very closely, right. So me and Shrey, ourselves, flew from region to region to region called in every salesperson spoke to every salesperson for half an hour 45 each. We just managed to judge what that person what was, was he good, bad what he was doing, went to distributors, visited them individually understood what the problems were wrapped up, if we thought this distributor is not viable, wrapped up, the distributor, negotiated the closing took the stocks back. And spent five, six months just cleaning up this kind of mess we had made the 25 mind of cities. Got it. It was a very, very taxing ordeal. And honestly, it was not great, because end of the day we could have spent that time growing the business, instead of cleaning up cleaning this up, right? At the same time. It was really a big learning experience. Right? So I’ll give you fast forward two years later to today, right? we realised that offline is not a channel where you can grow from zero to 100? Like this, right? You have to, so now we have technology in every part of the offline network. So before you choose what new store to place a product in, before you choose what products to put in that in that store, your secondary, your primary, your location of the retailer, your eco your Turnaround, all of this is tracked through our software that we have built in across the entire network. We’ve got we’ve been slowly working on it but a year ago, even after cleaning up the mess, we were at about a 40 days outstanding for our GT visit right Since then we’ve grown three times, and outstanding, down 21 days. Right, accurate. So we really kind of put a lot of time effort, money into streamlining that after that. And now for the first time, after all of that mess, you know, I’m happy to say that offline channels are finally a profitable channel last month, which is, which was a very big deal for us.

Rajeev Ahuja

You know, we keep talking about online offline. And and what you highlighted on the offline is extremely good insight. How is your online build? And what’s the relationship you’re seeing online is online awareness building, and now, actual sales, and it’s also the driving your offline inquiries.

Ameve Sharma

So, so online, I’ll divided into our into two pieces, right? One is our own website, and one in marketplaces, or let’s say, Amazon, your big baskets etc. Right. Now, I would say your Amazon’s and big baskets are a profitable channel for right already with the positive. It required doesn’t require sales force, rather than a lot of investment required on offline is not required in online, right. So it’s a profitable channel. It’s a scalable channel, because the traffic there is driven by Amazon, right? Amazon is driving the traffic. The reason why online works so well for us, is that you get a high involvement category, right? So people want to understand more about the product, what it does, what are the benefits, and online gives me the opportunity to actually read in detail and get more information before you actually purchase anything. Right? Yeah, online for a new business. And for category like ours has been a great fit, right. So we’ve seen fantastic growth, about 70% of our business today is on online, right. And it’s a significant chunk. Today, we are roughly if you look at a GMP point of view, roughly about 80-90 crore business, right. And out of that, we have about 70% of our sales coming from online, right? Within online marketplaces, or place where there is some day on demand creation. So we partner with platforms to do the in demand creation from time, but majority of platform would be bottom of the funnel, right? Because the traffic is being driven by Amazon or a big basket. And then you’re presenting as one of the options that the consumer has to pick from. So that’s when your reviews etc, kick in. Right? The website is very interesting, because that can actually lead to top of the funnel demand creation, right? So you can actively, you know, market to people, you can reach out to, you know, people through Facebook, Google, we use very often influencers, as well, you know, to kind of reach out to people. And you can actually educate people about the product, and then bring them in to the brand as a whole. So we see a lot of first time customer acquisition happening throw on website, right? So that’s how we look at it. And we, of course, now you know, rajeev, like it’s an omni channel world, right? So we can grow customers, we find a customer has the first time come in through a website that has gone and bought on Amazon. And then I found out available downstairs started buying it on sale, right? So I think customers are no longer offline and online, right? They are looking for convenience is end of the day being available to the customers, and most importantly.

Rajeev Ahuja

I’d say it’s a very, very nice way of putting it because in many of our minds, we read offline and online, as distinct but other than customer doesn’t care. And but yeah, there are different, I think different purposes of each channel, and you can marry the two. What Next Amitif I mean, you, you know, touch what’s been what you’ve shared with me is a is a startup dream. You know, I know you’ve got your own pain points and scars. But what next for you this is a great category in and the good part is that I think it’s got a potentially a global appeal. Because Indian settled overseas plus non- Indian, you know, which is a great fascination. I spend a lot of time in China, and I know that Chinese, traditional medicine, and huge, huge following, even outside of the Chinese speaking world. or next to you. I mean, how are you pacing yourself? You know, and what are the constraints you see along the way?

Ameve Sharma

No Rajeev, I mean to your point. Absolutely agree. It’s been a fantastic journey. Right? I think, you know, when you look back and we see our growth, I think we can literally, I can I on my fingers, I can count fmcg startups that have scaled the way we have, right? So I think the journeys been fantastic and we are very blessed and proud to and to have been able to make it here. I think definitely the idea now is to grow very aggressively. So right now if you see where the company’s grown, we’ve grown with, you know, the sort of consumers who are very, very prone to ayurveda even till 150 crores or 200 crores, you see the journey where we have some somewhat low hanging fruit, very easy to convert the consumer, a lot of the consumers actually. So you find a lot of youngsters, who consumed Ayurveda in their youth and have a very positive thought process about ayurveda, right. But there are no company is speaking to them. Right. So converting that customer has been relatively easy, right. So you would call them fence sitters But they are more leaning towards Ayurveda side falling on ayurveda side, right, that’s a fence sitters because, you know, they have the relevant brand, those customers have been relatively cheap and easy to convert for a ride. And we’ve had very, very strong retention, right, from a business point of view or retention levels of 50% Plus, right. So that also allows us to grow very aggressively, we acquire customers retain them very well and acquire new customers, right. Having said that, we see a very clear journey 250 to 200 crores . Right. Going forward. The idea now is how do we get to the 500 crores mark? Right? So let me leave out, leave aside the international question for now, I’ll address that at the end. But on the 500 cr mark, the idea now is that there’s two ways of doing this, right? How do you acquire that new bunch of customers? That’s a big question, right? One is to wait it and kind of slowly, slowly build it up word of mouth, then that’s our, that’s a seven to eight year journey to 500 cr, what we’re looking to do is that we actually raise some money, right, and invest into content and brand, you know, we’re not going to be a typical sort of TV advertising your typical kind of, but what we’re gonna invest that money into, we invest into building, making the customer understand who we are, right? So you will online channel, kind of talk to them, and create content to help you make the decision. Right. So and you will go on the fence, some, as you go deeper and deeper them, they need more and more data, they need more and more insight, right? Oh, providing that insight to the internet, through our website, through Amazon, through branding, through YouTube, whatever it is, right? So create a strategy where we can invest that money into brand building and content. Right. So that’s the plan we have, we see a very clear strategy to hit about 400- 500 crore or the company in the next four to five years. Right. So that’s a move into right now in the domestic market. Yeah, regarding the global market rally, want to see your bang on probably the opportunity might even be larger, right, in a place, like the US. But you know, honestly, when I started this business, there was a personal angle to it as well, you know, I wanted to do something for Indian by Indian, you know, yeah. That, you know, I mean, I thought about it below the products we produce, are versed on the point of view that okay, we need good nutrition in India. Right. So, you know, initially, there was no question that I wanted to have an India focus business. Right. Now, it’s been about almost three years, we’ve been growing pretty well. And the idea is that what next? Is the international markets on our agenda? Yes. Are we going to do it immediately? Probably not. Because, you know, I studied in the US, right, my sister lives there. I even even had a couple of people approach us, from the US to partner with them. Right. But and I went and spent a couple of weeks there to understand the market. Right. And what I understood Rajiv was that it’s a totally different business, you know, the mistake that a lot of Indian make me that they take the product from India and try to sell the exact same for us. But the end of the day, the customers different customers wants and needs are different. The distribution channels are different, the market is different, right. So to build a business in the US, you have to reimagine the business, right? You have to create a US centric business and almost like creating a new business, right? Trying to transplant India Business in the US makes no sense. Right, then you have no right to win and then there’s someone who’s sitting there, doing the will do the same thing, who understand the market understand the consumer better than you, and they’ll win. And we’ve always been, like, one of the, in the heart of the business has always been consumer centricity. Right, I must have personally talked to the consumer, without having that conviction of myself knowing the consumer and what they want. I we didn’t feel comfortable, you know, watching the worst yet. However, as time goes by, as India Business gets more stable, you know, as we raise a large round, he definitely, you know, it’s his ideas that how can we explore the opportunity? It’s not fully crystallised yet. But it’s something which we have in the back of our mind. I think a lot of customer centricity, you know, has been lost in fmcg, because people have had it too good. Right? And I’m saying this coming from a former business background, right? They will know potential competition. So no one worried so much for innovation. Don’t worry too much about customer. Right. And, you know, even companies like large multi billion dollar companies, right. Who you know, should, from the outside look like they were very customer centric. They’re not .right. But they are waking up to it for the first time some extent today but for them to become so agile so quickly, that The challenge right? Now the exact numbers slipping my mind, I think roughly about 40 to 45% of India uses toothpaste daily. Right now, the next 20% of the people who end up buying toothpaste, or the next 30% of people end up buying toothpaste? Will it be the exact same model that has been working now? Probably not, you need to understand that consumer, you need to figure out that how to make the product relevant for them. Maybe it’s a different formulation with a cheaper product. Maybe that’s the way you use the you know, the basic US, I’ll give it like a consulting firm, once Colgate went to a consulting firm, right? And Colgate asked him, How do I increase my sales, and the consulting firm turned around and said, okay, make the mouth bigger. Every time somebody takes it to press, they can do more, right? So suddenly, the sales went up by 10%, what people are consuming 10% more that model, capitalism model will not be the best model for the next 20%, right? Get out. If you want to onboard the consumer, the human, we have to kind of bring that value consciousness into the heart of the business, you need to innovate, you need to figure out a different way of doing it. Right. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate and for new brands to be created. Right? That’s something which I find very exciting. And I think this is true for almost all businesses, right in India.

Rajeev Ahuja

Nowadays, I try not to bring Corona into the conversation because we need to move forward while we take care of our health. The the inflection on online consumption online awareness. Has it impacted your business and your mode of operations positively?

Ameve Sharma

No, absolutely. So I think one thing we had to do very quickly, was sort out our supply chain, right? I think the day after lockdown, I was spending 14 hours a day just worrying about manufacturing, logistics and warehousing. There’s nothing else I was worried about. And, you know, bringing in flexibility, I think it’s a big learning for us. Right? That, you know, in good times you feel nothing can go wrong, right. So you don’t build so much flexibility in to your system. And you don’t build any backups. You know, you feel everything just keep working perfectly. But I think a learning big learning has been to bring in flexibility to whatever you do, you know, and agility we’ve always thought important for branding, marketing distribution point of view, but never whole supply chain model. Right. So the big sort of improvement, I would say in the company has been on supply chain side. And it’s actually made us a lot more efficient. Right, our costs have actually come down, right, because we realised we were wasting money. We didn’t need it. So it made us focus on what’s the most important, right? In terms of the inflection point, right. So online is something which is grown. decent amount, right. But we also think good tailwinds within the category. So combination of both online and the category. So we’ve seen Good, good growth in the last couple of months. But having said that, we’ve been going at the same degree at the same pace this year. Are we going last year? Right now? So I’m sure some of it is part as you get larger and larger, it does get more and more difficult to grow. Right. I that’s true. But definitely there is some tailwind. Right, which is come from online. I think that but we’ve always been an online digital first business. Right? We decided to take that path year and half ago. And we’ve always kind of looked at Digital as our DNA. Right. And we are omni channel for sure. And we continue to be available to be available in about 8000 locations offline today. That number will keep growing but up to the three 400 mark we will still be primarily online

Rajeev Ahuja

Thank you do people like you and people who you know embody a new India because we learn a lot I mean, I’ve been writing copious notes of some of the things you said because it resonate with me does that resonate with me because we look at banks we are all bank is ah you know that bank is blocked because you know, we have this friendly rivalry of mind. Sometimes when you look outside your category you can get more inspiration.

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