In Conversation With Aanan Khurma Founder & CEO, Wellversed
In an exclusive interview with BW Disrupt, Aanan Khurma talks about the importance of nutrition, healthspan maximization, use of proprietary Machine Learning algorithms at Wellversed and more.
Alumni, Stanford India Biodesign, Aanan Khurma is the Co-Founder & CEO of Wellversed Health, a precision nutrition Company and his third startup in line, the other two being FYNE Superfood and Hansure. Additionally Aanan had also served as Chief Product Officer at Cuemath and Senior Product Manager at 1MG Technologies.
1. Brief us about your business model like how did the idea come to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
I have been a proponent of healthspan maximization for over a decade now. Healthspan maximization is essentially the process of increasing the times in which one lives free from any kind of health ailments and lives life as their most energetic self. During my research in health & nutrition at Stanford Biodesign and AIIMS, I realised that nutrition is one of the most important pillars of healthpsan maximisation. Hence, I began experimenting with food and nutritious products that could help people lead better lives.
My interactions with dietitians, physicians, and clinicians made me realise that targeted nutrition has to be brought to the masses. I teamed up with Aditya Seth and my fellow Stanford Bio-design alumnus, Ripunjay Chachan, to launch Wellversed.
Wellversed has become India’s largest first full-stack nutrition brand with a wide range of top-notch functional foods and dietary supplements that help people manage their health. Our products enable the health transformation of people with weight issues, diabetes, obesity, PCOS, thyroid issues, and other lifestyle-related health conditions.
2. What are the unique key points of your company?
At Wellversed, we utilize proprietary Machine Learning algorithms to craft world-class products with defined nutrition macros and the desired taste. These compositions are then manufactured via a patent-pending micro-manufacturing system that enables the production of large numbers of SKUs in smaller batches. We have even developed a software-style sprint approach to craft and improve our products. This allows us to launch new products, and further improve them, at an unprecedented speed. Building on these aspects, we have delivered more than 50,000 units every month and facilitated over 12,000 Health Transformation Plans to date.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all approach. Our diet plans and products are tailor-made to suit every individual’s needs and convenience. We work towards transforming the way people consume nutritious food, by enabling dietary shifts without the need for any behavioral changes. For instance, you can find everything from almond butter to cheese nachos as a part of our healthy eating options. It ensures that people can have a healthy diet without compromising on their preferences to the very extent possible - which is a more effective approach. Our ultimate goal is to enable more people to reach their maximum health potential and maximize their healthspan without making their taste buds suffer for it.
4. What is the funding status and monetization model?
Wellversed was initially incubated by Huddle, and then received angel investments by some of the most seasoned investors including Alok Mittal, Govindarajan Parthasarathy, Shankar Narayanan, Tejinderpal Miglani, Rohit Chanana, and Amit Choudhary alongside others.
We have successfully closed our Pre-Series A funding round recently with the legendary cricketer and serial entrepreneur Yuvraj Singh, who has also come on board as Brand Ambassador for 3 years. He will be working closely with the Founding Team to scale the business. With this round of funding, we have achieved a valuation close to INR 100 crores.
5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
Initially, the primary challenge was dealing with skeptical people who thought the kind of food products that we aimed to create could not be manufactured. This is where one of the co-founders, Aditya Seth, stepped in and took it upon himself to build customized manufacturing equipment that ultimately brought the idea of Wellversed to life. Another challenging aspect was the attitude of the modern-day workforce. While there are some great talents in Generation Z who are more creative and dedicated as professionals, a sizable chunk of it also tends to switch between jobs purposelessly. Such candidates neither refine their skill-sets nor do they add any meaningful value to the relevant organizations. During our early days, we did not give much thought to this factor while driving our recruitments. So, we ended up with employees who were not equipped to build a high-growth company. We learned from our mistake and improved our screening parameters later.
At present, we face a challenge of competing with pseudo players who put false claims on their products to cheat customers and create a distrust in the market as a whole.
6. How has been your partners/ customers response so far post lockdown?
To date, we experienced strong growth even post-lockdown. We were able to close our Pre-Series A funding round and hence, broadened our horizons. The market traction received has been positive as well with our customers appreciating and recommending our products on social media platforms. Coupled with this word of mouth and as health awareness is catching on, our customer base has also increased.
We see new age delivery and warehousing partners strengthening their offering to optimise delivery cost and time. Supply Chain innovations are reducing the cost of ingredients while increasing the reliability in quality.
7. What are the traction details (achievements of the company)?
Our products have a strong presence across 25 online channels including the Wellversed website, Amazon, LBB, Big Basket, 1MG, Healthkart, Qtrove, and Milk Basket alongside others. Our platform has also claimed the top spot among the TOP 10 NUTRITION INNOVATION START-UPs compiled by Business World in 2020.
8. How do you look at expansion?
Having dominated the ketogenic space with our range of KETO products, Wellversed has now scaled across all nutrition regimes including intermittent fasting, vegan, diabetes, gluten-free, high-protein, immunity regimes, and more.
The association with our brand ambassador will help us to venture into newer markets, upgrade technology, strengthen the company’s supply chain, and R&D. We have already gained a strong presence in metropolitan and tier-1 cities. Our aim now is to expand across rapidly growing tier-2 cities as well as entering new international markets in the near future. We also plan to raise our Series A round of funding in early 2021.
9. What are your marketing plans?
We are primarily a digital first brand and plan to scale to have presence in over 20 Indian cities by the end of 2021. We have the largest universe of content around dietary and nutrition regimes which we will continue to scale. We are actively working to craft the largest video content series on nutrition regimes.
10. What has been the biggest learning so far?
The most important things are:-
- Focusing on unit economics
- Disproportionate control on acquisition cost
- Strict monitoring of cohort data and control of repeat sales
- Force yourself to
- Focus on product Improvement
- Customer Interaction
11. What is the market size and opportunity?
The space that we operate in is a several billion dollar market growing at a double digit CAGR. The potential of this market is to scale exponentially in the next 3-5 years.
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