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Our Audacious Goal Is To Grow 25x In Next 3-year: Spice Story

In an interview with BW Disrupt, Soumyadeep Mukherjee and Gayatri Gogate, Co-founders of Spice Story, talks about funding, target audience, future plans, products and more

Tell us how you addressed the opportunity in the "Chutney" segment? Was there any gap here? 

Having travelled, lived, and worked across various countries, I have witnessed the demand for Indian food. Not just from Indians but other nationalities as well. As a food lover myself, it was the area I wanted to explore.

While running errands one day, I came across a "Pani Puri" chutney in a small poly pack with a local label. I realized that my wife was aware and liked the product. But then I also realized that there were no specific brands that made chutneys. Pickles many do. We have a slew of sauce brands but not a single Chutney brand. 

The Indian chutneys category is an entirely white space, and I saw it as an opportunity to bring them into Indians' homes and the global diaspora.

We started in 2019 with three products, selling through small kiosks in condominiums in Mumbai to understand consumer responses towards the product and the price. We realized people were very open to a brand offering them the convenience of using chutneys precisely the way they used ketchup at the flick of a cap. It gave us the confidence to be on the right track and slowly built our range.

Could you please explain your product range and your target audience? 

We offer a range of Indian Ethnic chutneys in the form of modern sauce. The chutney is filled with easy-to-use, easy to pour, easy to store, recyclable bottles.

As of today, Spice Story leads the Chutneys category with the broadest offering of variants from different regions of the country.  

Our target audience is any Indian who is seeking convenience. That makes the whole world. But to be specific, we are looking at what we call the Instagram generation, which has nothing to do with age or a group per se, but it is a mindset. It is an attitude. They could be 20-year-olds or 60-year-olds but are experimental, curious, and adventurous. We offer convenience, authentic taste that has a modern look and feel but is rooted in tradition to these people.

How are your Chutneys priced? Which all markets are you present in? 

Our average product is 200g, which is priced at Rs 149.

 We sell on various channels where the customer can easily access us. Available in 6 cities (Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi -NCR) offline, and all serviceable pin codes in the online formats – we are available via the website www.spice-story.in or in market places like Amazon, Flipkart, Big Basket, Milk Basket, Cred and many others. We continue to explore modern-day quick commerce channels as well.

How has your customer base grown ever since the launch? Tell us a bit about the growth metrics? 

In the last nine-1months we have sold over 5.3 lakh units. On average, eCommerce drives 30% of our business.

We have consistently grown by over 1.5X each year since 2019-20. Our most significant success is entering all major modern-trade accounts other than eCommerce.

We have understood that Chutneys is an ample white space with no competition. But are there any players globally? 

I don't think we are fighting for category space. The Chutneys Category is a white space, and we are the only player with the range that we offer.

We are fighting for a share of the wallet and making a place for ourselves in the kitchens.

Let me give you an example. We consume a lot of sauce, but when mayonnaise was introduced, it became an add-on. The same was the case with schezwan sauce. These products became an add-on; they did not eat into the ketchup category.

Similarly, Indian Chutneys are not a replacement but an addition to our kitchens. In fact, chutneys have always been in our kitchens. Except that now we don't have to run about making them. And we can have a couple of them handy at all times. With a shelf life of 12 months, it is effortless. We hot fill our products and reduce the need to add huge preservatives.  

How have VCs reacted to this category? Could you share a bit about your funding? 

We have raised two rounds that already speak volumes about how VCs react to the product and category. We raised our first seed round in January last year from Venture Catalysts. We are cost card positive. In March this year, we closed a pre-Series A round from Agility Ventures, Maxar.VC, Nafa capital, and select FMCG industry leaders.

What is the biggest challenge in this segment? 

Communicating about our offering to the target audience remains our biggest challenge. Developing a brand takes time & we are doing it bit by bit!

Any international expansion? Any product expansion?

We have just launched in the USA via Amazon.com & want to aggressively improve our digital footprint in key markets of the USA, UK, Australia & UAE.

We are now ready to launch the world's first-ever ready-to-eat coconut chutney. We have worked on the recipe for a year. To be clear- it's a recipe and not a formulation. We are using authentic produce and ingredients to maintain the flavors that will remind us of the tastes we grew up with.

As we go, we will foray into new categories like Indian Spices, Ready to Cook condiments, and many more flavors. But at the core of it, all will be pockets of delicious "chatpata" flavors – chutneys.

Where do you see your startup/brand over the next three years? 

We are a desi food brand. And we want to re-introduce Indian food to the world via fun and tasty innovations. As for beating a company, our audacious goal is to grow 25x over the next three years.


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