Startup Saturday: Bottling millets for better eating habits
Meena and Sahil Jain have a vision to make Mighty Millets a go-to-brand for nutrition, health and lifestyle. Not just nutritive products, Sahil wants to launch fitness centres, yoga studios and health cafes in the future
As a nutritionist Meena Jain advises people on the right eating habits, lifestyle and wellness. This kind of consultancy showed her how people are illinformed about food choices and nutrition. She also became aware about the limited choices available to them.
“I started by making my own nutritious powders - one for bone health and another for digestion,” said Meena.
She offered this to all her clients. Not only did the demand for these powders grow but also their interest in nutritious food grew.
She, along with her son Sahil Jain, set out on the entrepreneurial path. Earlier, Sahil was working as a chartered accountant in a large firm.
“My mother’s clients liked the powders. When they understood what they should eat, they realised that there were very little options in the market,” said Sahil.
This scenario made Meena get back to the cooking table. At first, she made laddoos out of seeds and cocoa.
“We offer the laddoos to family members and friends. They loved it, but the general opinion was that the laddoo shape was not convenient for people to eat on the go. So we made them into bars,” said Meena.
Sahil started researching on related topics and found that even Granola meant to be healthy did not conform to the norms of nutrition.
“Many had honey added as a sweetener or had some artificial sweetener. Honey when heated is harmful for health. Also, they used preservatives, additives, colouring etc. So what was the point of spending money on something that was not giving you what you wanted?,” said Sahil.
What started in January 2018 had in 6 months’ time grown into a small scale business. Meena and Sahil together have developed two types of nutrition bars, powders and granolas. The Granolas were different from the ones available in the market as it contained more than 70% nuts, seeds and dried fruits and some oats.
Meena discovered Maple Syrup was a great sweetener and can be used instead of sugar. There were two kinds of Nutri bars - Cocoa Super Seed Bar and Coconut Ragi bar that is great for skin and hair.The going was good, clients and some family and friends were the customers. And a chance order came their way.
“I had a friend in KPMG and they were looking to buy gifts to give their employees for Diwali. The friend had tasted our bars and powders and so placed an order with us,” said Meena.
This was their first big order. 80 kilogrammes of Granola and 50 kilogrammes of bars - a total of 430 boxes. Success demands that you do cartwheels to meet the demand. Which is what Meena did.
“We had just one oven in our house. We borrowed three more. Hired some people and started making the bars and Granola in batches. In those days my kitchen was as though a hurricane had hit it. But in the end we delivered,” said Meena.
Business was picking up. Nutritious powders, granola bars were selling, but Meena wanted to offer more.
“Most people like to have a snack between meals or with their evening tea. And not everyone likes to munch on something sweet. So I thought why not make something healthy and savoury?,” she said. And she came up with Bajra savoury bites.
“These are made of bajra and are baked. They have very little oil, in fact simply brushed with olive oil during baking,” she said.
The quest to do more and increase the basket is constantly on. Meena is working on more nutrition bars. Currently they have three types of granolas, two nutri bars, two powders and a savoury snack. Trials and tests are on to create healthy snacks. “We are planning more bars and snacks,” she said.
While Meena’s culinary skills and knowledge about nutrition is guiding her path, it is the funds that are needed the most.
“So far we have not incorporated a company. I own the brand names that can be transferred. Whatever money we earned or spent was done through a dedicated account but we plan to set up a partnership firm. We are also on the look out for funds. We want a strategic investor who is really interested in our vision and brand. We want to make sure we find the right match and we are taking it slow,” Sahil said. In fact Sahil wants to expand to other areas of health too. “Trials and tests are on to create varieties in healthy snacks. Our plans include tying up with business to business players, getting onto the shelves of supermarkets and getting our products listed on e-commerce platforms. We will have our own fully functional e-commerce website very soon!,” he said.
Sahil has a vision to make Mighty Millets a go-to brand for nutrition, health and lifestyle. Not just products but in the future, he wants to launch fitness centres, yoga studios and heathy cafes. Great plans being built one step at a time.