Plant-based nutritional supplements replacing products made of synthetic, animal derivatives

Plant-based nutritional supplements replacing products made of synthetic, animal derivatives

What inspired both of you to kick-start your entrepreneurial journey?

I, Sai Sudha Gogineni have been working in entrepreneurial roles both in MNCs and startups. My journey started off with ITC Limited during the launch of the skin care category of Vivel range. I was based out of Haridwar where I was responsible for leading the manufacturing in the factory. Having a passion for startups, I joined Urbantouch in the core team which got acquired later. I went on to do my MBA at Indian School of Business where I was in the Dean's list for topping in academics. Post that, I joined Uber at its early stages and played an instrumental role in scaling the operations in India.

I, Veda started my career in Investment Banking at Deutsche Bank. Post that, I worked at Meesho in his business team, owning multiple problem statements. My time at Meesho had a steep learning curve. I realized the values โ€‹โ€‹of customer obsession and problem-first approach. I was working with some of the most ambitious, smart folks, chasing to impact small businesses at a massive scale. All of this was very inspiring and I decided to start something equally impactful along with my sister (Sudha).

Our father, a first-generation businessman in his family, had a modest upbringing. He pursued Civil Engineering and, despite having the opportunity to secure a job after graduation, he took a leap of faith and started his own business early on in his career. Through sheer determination and hard work, he has established a thriving business in the infrastructure sector.

Our mother is a graduate in Agriculture Sciences. She was a bright student and yet gave up her career to take care of her two young children. She was the one who encouraged both of us to prepare for the IIT JEE exam and constantly was a force behind all our successes. We feel without this inspiration from both our parents, we wouldn't have come this far.

What was the incident that led both sisters to establish Earthful?

We come from a health-conscious family. So, we knew the importance of leading a healthy life. We are avid yoga practitioners and tried eating right. Yet, while hustling between work and home, we experienced nagging health issues like knee pains and energy crashes at work. Our vitamin levels were not great. Our diet was clearly far from enough. We looked around us and realized that many Indians faced similar health issues. In fact, vitamin deficiencies were common. They were at the root of several health problems. Supplements were a solution, but unfortunately, we could not find one that met our needs. So, we started Earthful – a 100 per cent plant and clean Nutrition brand.

How did you implement your idea into action?

While inklings to turn into both entrepreneurs existed for years in Sudha and me, it was during the lockdown time of Covid that the initial discussions started. Both of us were working from home and were under the same roof because of the pandemic. Our initial discussions about the business started during our free time during lockdown. By the end of 2020, we finally took the leap of faith and registered the company.

What were the teething issues you faced while setting up Earthful?

Clean and complete plant-based was a concept heard for the first time in India. A lot of brands claim themselves as 'plant based' but when you check their ingredients section- they add artificial stuff, additives, excipients, etc. So, the R&D for the same took a lot of time and effort. We had to work with people from different countries to understand these ingredients and to source them. Also, entrepreneurship is challenging on a personal level too. There is a lot of risk involved. So, there are times when you are struck with doubt if you can do this. But family support and self-belief kept us going.

How did you go about with the research and development of the supplements?

Our science background at IIT was very instrumental in starting the company. We worked with the best scientists from the nutrition, food sciences background to formulate these products where every single nutrient is from plants. We researched highly effective plant sources. For example, normally iron supplements are made from Ferrous Ascorbate artificially, but Earthful sources iron from curry leaves – which is difficult to consume in high quantities.

How many products have you introduced and for which concern does it serve?

Our flagship products, the Plant Multivitamin range caters from teens to elderly of all genders. We carefully source vitamins and minerals from powerful plants like Amla, Curry leaves, Shatavari, Spirulina, etc., to provide essential nutrients such as vitamin C, D, K, B12, and more. Beyond that, we have crafted specialized herbal blends for specific health concerns, like skin, hair, PCOS, protein powder etc. For example, our protein powder is a blend of pea and brown rice protein and provides all the amino acids required by the body. It is a clean, six ingredient formula with no flavors. We have given it a taste by using natural cocoa powder. We do not add any fillers, excipients, artificial sweeteners, flavors, etc. Our capsule shell comes from plant cellulose and our powder blends only have fruit powders for taste.

How is Earthful placed with certification and quality checks?

Our manufacturing units are in Hyderabad. We have GMP, ISO certification, FSSAI approvals. We source vitamins and minerals from only plants, maintaining highest quality controls. We have over 90 quality checks and the final products are also tested in government accredited NABL labs.

How is the sale and awareness for plant-based nutrition supplements Earthful?

We are selling across India through our website www.earthful.me. We are seeing great response from both metros as well as tier-2 cities. We have catered to more than a million people through our awareness campaigns regarding health and nutrition.

Have you lined up any new launches for this year?

We are launching new flavors of our plant protein. They are in Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Alphonso Mango and Apple Cardamom, which is a diabetic-friendly version.

Would you care to share the financials?

We have close to 100 people working with us across operations, marketing, manufacturing and finance, directly and indirectly. We have seen a 15 per cent mom growth. Our vision is to grow to Rs 500 crore business over the next five years, and help more Indians lead a healthy life.

Could you tell us about the investments that have gone into Earthful till date?

Both Sudha and I had worked in MNCs and startups. We had some savings from our previous work, which we initially invested into our business. We have raised additional funds from external investors. We also participated in a show called Nenu Super Women in Aha OTT where we got some funds. In pre-seed investment round we have raised Rs 3.3 crore from Green Ivy Ventures, and other investors also participated in the round. Yes, we are looking to raise additional funds to help us scale our operations and expand our product range. Majority of business is through online, that is our website. We are building an omni-channel presence by expanding into offline space such as supermarkets, health and wellness stores. We are also constantly researching to expand into new product categories, for example, we just launched new flavors in our plant protein powders.

What is your take on nutrient supplements available in the market today?

The supplements in the market contain synthetics, unnecessary fillers or animal derivatives leading to a hesitation for daily consumption. So, we created Earthful to provide plant and clean nutrition. Our expert team creates formulas that are tailored for the nutrition needs of Indians, through powerful plant ingredients. We have multivitamins and herbal blends for different age groups, genders, so as to improve their sleep, skin, hair, gut health and overall wellbeing.

What is wrong in the food chain that is making Indians to deal with vitamin deficiency?

To state a quick fact, to meet our daily iron requirement, we need to consume 400 gms of spinach daily which is very difficult to consume. Hence, most of us are facing hidden hunger. We eat enough calories but not enough nutrients, leading to Vitamin deficiencies. 75 per cent Indians have deficiency in at least one Vitamin. We were no different. Our diet could not keep up with our body's nutritional needs. We faced problems such as knee pains, tiredness. We were scared to take the supplements in the market because they had artificial ingredients or non-vegetarian sources.

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