In Conversation With Mr. Siddharth Ramasubramanian - CEO & Founder of Vegolution
In an exclusive conversation with BW Disrupt, Mr. Siddharth Ramasubramanian - CEO & Founder of Vegolution talks about the company, funding and more.
1. Brief us about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
Vegolution will launch with a B2C business model introducing a new branded protein-forward vegetarian ingredient in ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat product formats that’s versatile across consumption moments and cuisines. We are working on our B2B channel strategy to supply to food manufacturers, and the HORECA segment as consumers look to find new healthy alternatives across the board.
Having contributed to the opening and operations of over 50 successful destination restaurants across the globe during my hospitality career, I realized that the joy of discovering great food brings people together like nothing else. We started our India journey by keenly studying the modern Indian consumer's food habits in their home, at restaurants, and social gatherings.
The result was Vegolution’s core insight: Many vegetarians in India struggle to find sufficient variety in their daily diet that fits their taste profile and provides the essential protein and vitamins required to meet their nutritional needs. As a result, meals can get pretty monotonous and consumers are yearning for new staples on their main plate.
I started the company in mid-2019 along with my long-time friend, Los Angeles-based Rajit Malhotra, a seasoned food-tech, health & wellness investor and entrepreneur and former McKinsey Managing Partner. Based out of Bengaluru, Vegolution is self-funded by us, along with a diverse range of strategic individual investors who are leaders in FMCG, Hospitality and Private Equity.
2. What are the unique key points of your company?
The brand's uniqueness is around the range of flavourful ready-to-cook and eat products that have the amazing combination of being clean-label, high-protein, low-carb and packed with vitamins. While there are many supplements (bars and shakes) entering the market, we are focused on the main-plate where we see a large gap.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
We are focused on vegetarians and vegans looking for more nutrition-packed options where meat is a no-go zone and non-vegetarians who are actively reducing their meat intake without compromising nutrition. Our products are clean-label with no preservatives making them a wholesome source of protein while being low-carb and low-fat.
4. What is the funding status and monetization model?
I started the company in mid-2019 along with my long-time friend, Los Angeles-based Rajit Malhotra, a seasoned food-tech, health & wellness investor and entrepreneur and former McKinsey Managing Partner. Based out of Bengaluru, Vegolution is self-funded by us, along with a diverse range of strategic individual investors who are leaders in FMCG, Hospitality and Private Equity. We have raised $1.5M including the founders’ seed capital. The investors who participated in this round include KS Narayanan, former president at VKL Seasonings; Ashok Barat, former CEO at Forbes Company; and Robert Boughner, former CEO of the US-based Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
5. What are the traction details?
Over the last year, we focused extensively on establishing product-market fit because we firmly believe that we have a very large addressable market. As a result, we deployed our resources on India-specific product R&D and development, flavour profiling and consumer trials. Now we are working on our launch slated for early 2021.
6. How do you look at expansion?
With the aspiration of taking India from the Protein gap to being Protein positive, we aim to be a pan-India brand across B2C and B2B channels.
7. What is the market size and opportunity?
With the world's largest population of vegetarians, the opportunity is enormous and largely untapped. While awareness around protein consumption and overall health is growing, the number of affordable solutions is limited. Our vegetarian consumers struggle to find a sufficient protein diet in daily life that fits their taste on the main plate. Therefore, consumer demand and the resulting opportunity seems promising.
8. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
The challenge we give ourselves every day is to find ways to improve our products' taste and texture, so they address India’s diverse taste profile.
9. What are your marketing plans?
We believe the secret to marketing is having a product that performs in all dimensions. This enables positive word-of-mouth which can then be amplified via communications from us educating the consumer about all the ways they can use our products.
10. What has been the biggest learning’s so far?
Our whole journey has been about learning and that has not stopped. It has been especially eye-opening too speak to modern Indian consumers and see their willingness to experiment and discover new foods. The next generation of consumers view branded foods with a different filter that is a more multi-dimensional - taste, health and sustainability.
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