‘The size of your business is not the size of your company, but it is the size of your turnover’
In India, the Sattvik way of life focuses on living in harmony with nature and eating food that is simple yet nutritious. Leveraging on the concept, Prasoon Gupta and Ankush Sharma launched Sattviko, a Sattvik snacks brand, in January 2017.
Their company, Rays Culinary Delights Private Limited, achieved an annual turnover of Rs 18 crore in FY 2017-18. Helming 145 employees, the two partners work in sync – Prasoon handles branding and sales and Ankush looks after the operations at their 10,000 sq ft factory in Delhi, where they package foods procured from about 300 third party vendors.
“The packaging is designed so that you can eat on the go and the snacks come in a wide variety – such as khakra (Gujarati flatbread made of wheat) and flavoured makhanas (fox nuts) – all of which are great for health and good to taste,” says Prasoon. Some of their popular snacks include paan raisins, jeera peanuts, and gur chana.
Their products are available in department stores and also on online retail stores. They have 30 distributors across India and also have B2B tie ups with Lufthansa, Taj Hotels as well as airport authorities across the country.
The company is looking at a turnover of Rs 25-30 crore in FY 2018-19, and aims to double it in the next year.
But this success did not come on a platter for the duo. It took two business ventures that they had to abandon mid-way before they hit upon a winning formula.
Prasoon, 32, along with Ankush and few other friends had launched Tech Buddies, an online education platform for school students, when they were doing their final year engineering at IIT Roorkee.
“My friend Suren Kumar was the technical brain and other friends, Abhishek Sharma, Pavan Gupta and Ankush and I, chipped in with the other aspects,” he recalls.
In mid-2009, after their graduation, they shifted base from Roorkee to Delhi, looking to join the startup bandwagon and pooled in Rs 50,000 each to get started. They rented a small house with a temporary roof over it.
“We worked out of our home but held client meetings at a neighbour’s house,” shares Prasoon, with a smile.
They achieved a turnover of Rs 1 crore in the first year, but Suren soon quit the company taking up a regular job, and two other founders also left due to personal reasons by the end of 2009.
“We shifted base to Jaipur, to explore the market in a tier two city but even after training 2 lakh students, with 600 faculty members who were CEOs of big companies, we did not get the desired returns. So we sold the company for Rs 50 lakh in 2013,” says Prasoon.
Soon Prasoon went on a self-discovery journey, travelling mostly by road all across the country, to 28 states and even to remote areas.
“During this year I reflected on why the company wasn’t a success and realised that the size of your business is not the size of your company but it is the size of your turnover…” he shares.
Back in Delhi, he connected with Ankush again and the two decided to start afresh. They had come across a restaurant in Bengaluru called Sattvam, which served traditional Indian Sattvik food, which inspired them to open such a chain in Delhi.
By the end of the year, they had eight restaurants in Delhi – they had pooled in Rs 30 lakh of their own and raised Rs 1.5 crore from friends and family.
“We wanted to serve traditional Indian food in a modern avatar. In this effort, we also started keeping packaged food as an experiment... these turned out to be a huge hit,” says Prasoon. “The restaurants weren’t working too well, though. That’s when we met Raman Roy, the founder of Genpect, and father of the BPO industry, and he agreed to invest in the packaged food business only if we closed down the restaurants.”
That is how Sattviko came into being. “The major reason Sattviko has worked is because the product is innovative, and we have learnt to market it well,” says Prasoon, sharing his mantra of success.
They have raised about US$ 1 million till now from 30 investors, Ashish Gupta of Helion being a major one, and are now planning to expand to the US, the UK and Dubai.
The company has received various awards like National Entrepreneurship Award-2017 (Rs 5 lakh cash prize), Achievers of the World - Business World, Tiecon Entrepreneurship Award, and Bhamasha Award (Rs 20 lakh cash prize) by the Government of Rajasthan.
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