When and how did you start?
Farmorigin Agroscience Pvt. Ltd. is a company formed by two entrepreneurs Sameer Gupta and Ankit Khanduri. Both of them have been serial entrepreneurs. They passionately started their journey to create Agri based health products which in turn would also impact the livelihood of fellow farmers. Ankit hails from Uttarakhand region and has been observing the plight of the farmers in that region. Given the rich landscape of Uttarakhand, they add value to the agri-produce from Uttarakhand and create products like Haldivita for consumption with substantial health benefits.
Sameer Gupta is a Chartered Accountant, who has worked in CXO positions in various multinationals both in India and overseas. On his return to India, he was very much troubled by observing the quality of food items being sold in the open market. He zealously started researching on food products. He and Ankit travelled to various places like Jaipur, Goa, Ranchi, Bhopal etc. to study various technologies like hydroponics, open farming etc. and check a viable way to grow and market different food products. During the course of this journey, they came across an NGO in Pipalkoti (Chamoli). In Chamoli, the farmers grow a very special Turmeric called Suvarna.
NGO (Agaas) was aggregating farmers in Chamoli district and was supporting them in growing Suvarna Haldi. This turmeric had Curcumin level upto 8.7% + (backed by ICAR report). Curcumin per se is not bio-soluble. It has to be mixed with other ingredients to make it bio-available. The co-founders researched Suverna turmeric and also had a dialogue with some of the well know Ayurveda doctors to understand the benefits of turmeric.
Both the co-founders were very excited with what they heard and saw and on their return to Delhi, they prepared a formulation with the help of doctors and persons who has knowledge of Ayurveda for consumption. They adopted this product in their daily meals and within a short period they observed a positive impact.
Sameer then supplied this formulation to his other relatives. They too found it immensely beneficial. This excited Sameer and his friend cum co-founder Ankit and they decided to scale up the production and make Haldivita commercially available.
The co-founders also compared Haldivita it to other Malt products available in the market. They found that most of the products available in the market contained a very high content of sugar and preservatives which was impacting the children in a very negative way. They were convinced that Haldivita has substantial health benefits and if people consume it regularly they can lead a healthier life as the benefits of Curcumin are as follows:
- 1. Overall Health Booster
- 2. Fights Depression
- 3. Helps in gut management
- 4. Boost Brain Health
- 5. Help Against Heart Diseases
- 6. Delays Ageing & Fights Arthritis
- 7. Help Prevent and Perhaps Even Treat Cancer etc.
They worked on 3 areas to make the product effective.
- 1. Procurement of ingredients and packing material
- 2. Production and processing
- 3. Marketing and sales
About Haldivita :
Haldivita is a balanced mixture of ingredients which boosts the effect of curcumin. We grow a special type of turmeric called Suvarna, for Haldivita, in the hills near Badrinath, Himalayas. This is a high yielding type released by IISR, Calicut. It has high curcumin content of 8.7% (rare). The formulation has around 10 to 11 ingredients to make curcumin bio-available in the body and make it more effective as a health booster.
They procured Suverna turmeric from Chaoli (Uttarakhand) and for the rest of the ingredients, they identified suppliers who could provide them with quality and chemical-free stuff.
They decided to move the production facility to Dehradun. There the rentals were less and skilled and unskilled manpower was easily available. Logistics to procure Turmeric was also much simpler.
For establishing a sales dealership network and to get a first-hand feel of how the distribution setup works, they themselves moved into the market. They started getting a hang of the market and their first lot of 300 bottles were successfully sold in the first 2 months. They created an e-commerce website www.haldivita.com Based on their learning, the co-founders created a business matrix and a strategy map to penetrate the market.
During the first 6 months, they did a POC to understand the preference of the consumers. The taste was important but at the same time, the health benefits were not to be compromised. They worked on both. They personally contacted their customers to get feedback. Not even a single person complained about the taste and the overall feedback was extremely positive. Some of the consumers felt that the packing could be improved. They worked on the same.
They worked closely with a lawyer to ensure that all the industry compliances are met with. The packaging should meet the highest standards and at the same time look ethnic.
Over the past 3 months, they introduced three flavours in the market Elachi pista, cocoa and Natural.
How did you come up with the idea? Your inspiration moment
Turmeric has been a very important ingredient of Indian Ayurveda, which dates back to 2500 BC. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical science for natural healing and has been practiced for generations
Chamoli, a district in the central Himalayas, in Uttarakhand has been an abode for many rare herbs. Turmeric is one of them. People in the villages in this district are alienated from technology hence they have devised their own way of living. They rely on various medicinal herbs to cure them of any ailments ranging from mild fever to critical conditions.
Ankit has been going to Uttarakhand since childhood. Living in Delhi he could experience the stark difference between the quality of healthy life. This difference grew with time and became quite evident. Then he decided to bring that rural lifestyle to our technology-enabled yet unhealthy friends in an urban city.
While living in cities we have never realized that most vegetables and fruits are modified versions of their original self. The climate, soil and water amplify the growth of vegetables so much that we might mistake them for food on steroids.
While starting Farm Origin he went on a backpacking trip from Dehradun to Mana village and found so many interesting people and rich vegetation which he had not expected. He was surprised to see that people in villages saving a doctor’s appointment only for critical conditions and for everything else they have “Haldo”(Turmeric in local language).
Mathyamdeja (Math) a village situated next to Alaknanda river has been practicing this since ages and He was convinced to buy this magical root in a second. The rich colour and aroma are evident in its rarity and purity. He got their local recipe and added it with few healthy seeds (flax and sunflower) to make our power-packed Haldivita. We tested it with a group of people who fell in love instantly. Henceforth we decided to make it in large quantities to take it to the masses and give them the essence of natural healing.
Brief about organization and founding members
A journey of Sameer Gupta :
Sameer Gupta is a finance professional with 30+ years of Global experience. He had been working at CXO positions in various multinationals during the course of this career. After having worked overseas, on his return to India, he got associated with SME’s and start-ups and helped them define business goals, develop financial model, strategize growth and assisted them to expand their business geographically. He supported them in formulating Global marketing strategy and provide market access.
He worked with the start-ups and helped them grow through a strong community of outreach partners, consisting of VC, investors, co-working places, accelerators, educational and research institutes. Out of sheer passion, he wanted to try out his hands-on agriculture and Agri products. For the past one and a half year he is totally focussed on his new venture Haldivita and wishes to take it global.
A journey of Ankit Khanduri :
Ankit Khanduri has extensive experience in technology start-ups. He has built two companies from scratch and received funding by a Hong Kong-based start-up accelerator, several Angel investors and also from the Middle East. He has raised about 3 Cr for his ventures. He also co-founded a start-up LiteHires. This company worked in the domain of HR and has a tie-up with the Estonian government and several multinationals. Now he along with his co-founder Sameer Gupta is doing research on creating new Turmeric (Haldi) based products which combine traditional knowledge coupled with modern scientific research.
The detailed journey, like what all you want to share with readers
The co-founders are extremely excited about this product and they wish to introduce and educate people regarding their effectiveness. They are working on making this product feel and taste better but at the same time do not wish to compromise on its health benefits in any manner. They are talking to packaging institutes and food technologists to understand how they can make the product healthier and also improve shelf life.
They have already introduced 3 flavours in the market and once these flavours get well established in the market, they plan to introduce other healthy preparations like Mandwa cookies, Millet puffs etc. and provide their customers with a wide range of choices. They feel it’s all about providing healthy alternatives to people, educate them and then let them decide themselves what they want. If the product is really good and stands tall on its claim then it’s acceptability will spread by itself.
About funding, plans on growth
Currently, the company is bootstrapped. The co-founders made a presentation at IIM Kashipur under the SAKSHAM Program and got selected despite tough competition. The company has been incubated at IIM Kashipur. They are entitled to a government grant.
Challenges, Opportunities and Marketing Strategies
The only competition they feel is from Health supplements. They compared Haldivita it to other Malt products available in the market and found that most of the products available in the market contained a very high content of sugar and preservatives which was impacting the health of children and adults in a very negative way. They are convinced that Haldivita has substantial health benefits and if people consume it regularly they can lead a healthier life.
Future plans and funding
Their vision is to provide health supplements made of natural ingredients which have impactful benefits and at the same time have no side effects. They have started Haldivita and under this banner, they will come out with many more products as we evolve.
A quote from the founder on the journey, or dealing with the challenges
Challenges could be many but always dare to charter into unknown territories.
EXCLUSIVE: Founder’s advice to budding entrepreneurs
In starting a new venture there are many hurdles, each hurdle should be considered as a learning experience. There is no substitute for knowledge. Get a great mentor who can align with your vision and never hesitate in discussing the problems/issues being faced by you.
Provide some statistics like revenues or clients acquisition etc
For establishing a sales dealership network and to get a first-hand feel of how the distribution setup works, they moved around in the market. The first lot of 300 bottles was successfully sold within the first two months. Based on their learnings, they created a business matrix and a strategy map to penetrate the market. During the first 6 months, they did a POC to understand the preference of the consumers. The taste was important but at the same time, the health benefits were not to be compromised. They worked on both.
Both Sameer and Ankit personally contacted their customers to get feedback. The overall feedback was extremely positive. Some of the consumers felt that the packing could be improved. They took this observation very seriously and contacted a person from the packaging industry to understand the options available. Today they have a decent sales funnel and are touching different channels to boost their sales.