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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

IITian Quits His Job To Change into A Millet Entrepreneur; Earns Rs 2.5 Crore

A standard subject of debate in my home each time one in all us falls sick revolves round our unhealthy diets. The dialog tends to escalate with my mom passionately emphasising how diets previously have been enriched with superfoods like jowar, bajra, and ragi.

True sufficient, millets are actually being recognised as superfoods worldwide. In 2023, the Indian authorities designated it because the “12 months of Millets” to underscore their quite a few advantages.

Nevertheless, a problem arises because of the restricted availability of devoted shops providing quite a lot of millets. “In our fast-paced world, what most of us want is ready-to-use recipes, and never many producers provide a variety of millet choices. Recognising this hole, I based my very own millet startup,” says Sai Krishna Popuri, the founding father of Well being Sutra, as shared with The Higher India.

Sai, the entrepreneur behind a millet-based model, gives a various vary of millet merchandise by way of his startup. From Jowar Flakes to Millet Muesli and Millet Idli Rawa pre-mix, the model goals to seamlessly combine this superfood into your every day weight loss program. With 1000’s of merchandise offered, the model has achieved a formidable annual income of Rs 2.5 crores.

‘For a wholesome and lengthy life’ 

After finishing his engineering from the Indian Institute of Know-how in Delhi, Sai determined to take a company job within the training sector. 

“Whereas I used to be working a job, I wished to get into ventureship. I had at all times dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I used to be solely ready for the fitting concept to come back alongside for me to take the leap,” he shares. 

Sai remembers that whereas he was in school, he wished to arrange his personal enterprise and had a few concepts too. “Whereas there have been a variety of concepts, I wished to do one thing that stood out and was benefitting the society too,” he says. 

Sai quit his job to start a millet-based startup called Health Sutra.
Sai give up his job to begin a millet-based startup known as Well being Sutra. Image credit score: Well being Sutra

Meals startups have at all times been an space of curiosity for Sai. “Meals tech has at all times been attention-grabbing to me. Earlier than Well being Sutra, I used to be engaged on an Indo-Chinese language startup in Hyderabad,” he says. 

“Across the similar time, my father was identified with diabetes. The physician beneficial varied alternate options resembling wheat, oats, or quinoa for his weight loss program. I couldn’t assist however surprise – oats are high quality, however quinoa is imported from South America. Why go for one thing from midway the world over when we now have equally good choices proper right here?” he provides. 

Wanting to search out alternate options in India, he went in search of choices. He met a relative who labored within the meals science division at a college in Andhra Pradesh. “She was passionately discussing millets and the way they’re poised to develop into the following huge factor. Millets, being deeply rooted in our land, boast indigenous qualities, robustness, and drought resistance, making them a extremely helpful selection,” he says. 

On additional analysis, Sai realised the explanation why the superfood was not as fashionable as others. 

“The processing expertise for wheat, rice, and corn has superior considerably. Nevertheless, the identical can’t be mentioned for millets. The restricted progress in milling and additional processing of millets creates a state of affairs the place presenting millets to customers in a contemporary context, or providing them a up to date perspective on their conventional meals and roots, turns into difficult,” he says. 

To alter the perspective in direction of millet and to make it extra simply accessible to customers, Sai began his analysis and growth in 2013. 

“Our grandmas have been proper to ask us to incorporate millets in our diets as they’re historically thought of to be wholesome,” he says.

By 2014, he was prepared together with his first product. “We launched jowar porridge beneath our model Well being Sutra and it bought an ideal response,” he remembers. 

Since its launch, the corporate has skilled important development, introducing a various vary of merchandise. These embrace cereal flakes resembling Jowar Flakes, Ragi Flakes, and Barley Flakes, in addition to seven various kinds of rava for idli and upma, and biscuits made out of ragi and jowar.

Making millets accessible to all

The model has a very good buyer base in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Recalling folks’s preliminary response, Sai says, “Throughout that point, my objective was to supply an alternative choice to masala oats. The response was optimistic, particularly from those that tried it a few times – they loved the style. Phrase unfold and extra folks started to provide it a attempt.” 

He provides, “Apparently, even as we speak, firms like Soulful and probably now Slurp Farm, no main participant has emerged on this house. Because of this, folks nonetheless don’t have many choices to discover.”

The model now boasts an annual income of two.5 crores and has a workforce of 9 folks.

Whereas these numbers sign success, Sai emphasised the persistence required to succeed in this level. “It’s been a sluggish burn for us; the trade remains to be nascent, and individuals are solely now starting to open up. Again in 2013, after I began my analysis, there have been no avenues accessible. Institutes devoted to this trigger have been scarce, and the expertise to do easy issues like making uttapam from jowar was not readily accessible,” he explains.

“Nevertheless,” he continues, “Instances have modified considerably since then. Now, we now have devoted institutes for analysis, and extra people are investing in millet-based startups.”

The worldwide 12 months initiative for millets final 12 months has undoubtedly made a optimistic affect. 

“Nevertheless, I consider it’s nonetheless within the consciousness stage quite than a degree the place a behavior has been absolutely shaped. Individuals are attempting, and experimenting, nevertheless it hasn’t develop into a every day behavior like consuming rice or chapati. That, I consider, will take some extra time,” he says. 

The merchandise by Well being Sutra are presently accessible in shut to three,000 supermarkets in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Additionally they ship them country-wide by way of Amazon.

Sai is planning on entering the kids' market by making millet more digestible, palatable, and accessible.
Sai is planning on getting into the children’ market by making millet extra digestible, palatable, and accessible. Image credit score: Well being Sutra

It had been some time since P Lalitha discovered the advantages of millet however was in search of concepts to include it into her child’s weight loss program. “I’ve been utilizing Well being Sutra’s Millet Idly Rawa for years now, it tastes so good that my children like to eat idli. I typically make sweets with this rawa. I at all times choose to have my children with zero maida snacks and the Well being Sutra biscuits turn out to be useful,” she says. 

The merchandise are nice and wholesome. They’ve zero components and sugar which makes them her go-to selection. 

As for the long run, Sai plans to broaden his merchandise to make it extra child-friendly. 

“At present, millet merchandise haven’t made important inroads into the children’ section, notably in high-volume children’ meals classes, which is an space we’re eager on exploring additional. Our focus is on making millets extra digestible, palatable, and accessible at a extra handy worth level. Presently, millet merchandise are usually a bit costlier in comparison with their standard counterparts,” he says. 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

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