The first thing a newborn is fed when he comes into existence is milk, and he never ceases to consume it. Milk being a necessity, and having multiples uses, makes it an important consumable item at every place, ranging from households to clubs. There are 1 million milk-producer members in different states, which shows rising consumption level of milk in our country. In urban areas, it reaches the consumer through various channels, increasing the number of middlemen and price, while leading to a decline in quality. 68-70% of the milk is adulterated. Are we being fed with quality milk? We all know the answer to this question, but our daily chores hardly leave us with any time to express our concern about this.
Real Milk aims at providing every citizen of our country with healthy and unadulterated milk, while also ensuring that the farmers get a fair price for their contribution. Based at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh they operate in Krishna and Guntur districts. Unlike factory produced milk, which takes weeks to reach and is kept fresh by adding urea, hydrogen peroxide and other such chemicals, they deliver fresh farm milk within a few hours at your doorstep.
Bellamkonda Srinivasa Rao spent more than 6 months to understand the problems and devising solutions. Despite having attained higher education, and working for almost 14 years in different countries, he never drifted apart from his roots and decided to start this venture. With the aim of doing something beneficial for the society he started Real Milk and has been serving the society since then. We got the opportunity to interview such a noble-minded personality. Let us get right to it and understand his venture a little more.
1. What is the source of inspiration behind the name of your venture, Real Milk?
I realized that all white colour water(adulterated milk)sold in market is not REAL MILK. I wanted to make a difference by providing REAL MILK to the urban societies.
2. Who all are your target audience/clients?
Farmers who produce milk at highest quality standards and household consumers who want to consume unadulterated pure milk. Auxiliary services would bring in Insurance Providers, Banks, Feed Providers, and Veterinary Doctors into our consumer ecosystem.
3. Your current operations are located in which regions and Where are you based at (city, state, country)?
We are operating in Krishna and Guntur districts, Andhra Pradesh. We are based in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Assuring fair price (for farmers) for farm produced milk and assuring high quality milk to the household consumers
5. Would you like to Share the idea or story behind the foundation of Real Milk?
My name is Bellamkonda Srinivasa Rao and I am a software professional by career but a farmer at heart. While I was in the U.S.A for a professional assignment, I had funded my brother for 200 cattle dairy farm spread across 100 acres agricultural land. He has done a wonderful job in producing quality milk and breeding high milk yield cattle but still the dairy farm project was not self-sustainable and had to be shut down within 4 years. My Passion for agriculture and sound knowledge in Information Technology are driving forces for Real milk Project.
In today’s dairy industry, Number of dairy farmers and cattle are shrinking because many farmers are struggling to get half the market price for their quality produce. Also, considering the complexity of milk distribution process, milk becomes a commodity by the time it reaches the consumers.
Considering the high demand for milk, 68% of milk is found to be adulterated in India. Still, the consumers end up paying a premium price for low quality milk.
www.RealMilk.co.in – Aim is to make MILK supply chain safer, more efficient and more sustainable.
6. Do you face any rivalry and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
We welcome healthy competition if at all any. We don’t sell factory produced food, we only sell farm produced food which is natural.
7. How do you identify your co-founder? Would you like to tell us something about them?
I recruited 8 fresh graduates & one experienced person with a reasonably low salary and I realized 2 of them are very much connected with my vision and started taking ownership and doing as much as I do, and even ready to sacrifice their salary in difficult situations. I am very happy to have them in my team as co-founders.
8. What is your idea of team formulation? What type of qualities do you search for in your team?
Right team formulation is one of the major milestone for any company’s success. Today everyone has one or the other skills but don’t know how/where to use. Many of them waste their energies due to lack of long-term vision.
Qualities I look for: One must be aware of social problems and have the courage to address them using best of his/her knowledge first and then seek for others help to gain attention. One must believe in Givers Gain philosophy. One must have common sense. One must know what makes him/her happy. Self-respect & Customer-Oriented.
9. What are your growth or expansion plans for the next 2 or 5 years?
We would expand our operations to other major cities in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamilnadu in next 2 years and expect to serve 2 lakh litres per day along with 10 tonnes of organic vegetables and fruits produced by our farmers per day.
10. Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
We would want to become single largest platform (market place) for farmers and consumers and clock least 5 million transactions per day.
11. What are your short-term goals?
Consolidate our operations in Vijayawada and Guntur Region and reach100K Litres/Day delivery for Financial Year 2018-2019.
12. Have you risen any funding yet? Are you looking for the same?
Not yet, we are looking for fund raising. We are bootstrapped for now.
13. Please share your incubation days struggle issues while setting up this venture, and how did you resolve them?
As part of piloting and understanding ground reality, I had hired 2 of the guys and traveled for 6 months covering 3 districts meeting 100s of farmers to assess if the problems faced by farmers are common to resolve or unique in their own way. We had our struggle to understand true nature of the problems. We had devised our own unique means of questioning the farmers, taking notes, applying our thoughts to build mental framework that can resolve the dairy industry issues. We found that lower price for produce, adulteration, lack of awareness about animal welfare are some of the common problems that can be addressed using technology. Converting the mental framework into something tangible like mobile app and getting farmers & consumers to use our services was bit of a challenge.
14. What was or has been the most challenging part of your journey? How do you overcome the same?
Self-sustainability is biggest challenging part for any tech-based start-up for first few years. And we are not different from that. We sacrificed our time and luxury at times to do things like computer programming/coding during day time and milk delivery during mornings/evenings including myself. And of course many more challenges we overcome along the way. It would have been done by someone else if it would have been so easy without challenges.
15. What is your idea of stress management?
It was very easy in our case. We have a customer care number published in our website and with customers, and every core member must handle calls that come to this number on rotational basis. 80% of calls what we get is to appreciate what we have been doing and to enquire if we have our operations in their area/locality. And every customer end up speaking at least for 5 minutes and teach us a lot, bless us a lot and praise us a lot. We feel like blessed and it relieves us from stress. And then sometimes we share each other feedback/blessing we received from such well-wisher. Our open culture enabled us to tide through lot of operational pressures.
16. What do you do to escape the work life in your leisure time?
Fortunately, or unfortunately no option to escape from work or to think of leisure time for last 15 months. Our work is our leisure.
17. Where would you like to escape to for a holiday?
Himalayas for at least 30 days. But our consumers need us every day.
18. Whom do you consider your idol/role model or biggest motivator and why?
My parents and good old days in growing village taught me the value of appreciating quality. The essence of serving the society in the manner that we can. Anyone who believes & achieves in serving the masses through technology & innovation is my inspiration.
19. What makes entrepreneurs different from service class professionals?
We all are humans, entrepreneurs go that extra mile to deliver, the reason being complete ownership. Captain of the ship cannot abandon the same. Service professionals have some luxury of fixed working time &salary guarantees, while we entrepreneurs would have to create an environment that can give such guarantees.
20. Which part of your life would you like to rewrite if given a chance to restart with your career today?
It’s always yesterday is better than today. But I want to make it to point where in I feel today is better than yesterday and try to rewrite the future. Otherwise I prefer going back to childhood for all the little fun.
21. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Yes, Not able to spend quality time with family and I haven’t seen any school progress report of my kids for last 15 months to discuss and put corrective actions if required. I haven’t gone out with family at least for a lunch/dinner for last 12 months due to time/financial burden.
22. Is there anything, you’d like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Readers- Most of the food/milk you consume in day to day life is so adulterated, please be aware of it and opt in for good milk/food through our mobile App.
Entrepreneurs – First list out possibilities for failure, and entrepreneurs those have failed in that particular segment for each and every possibility you have listed, Meet them and find out what could they do differently this time if given another opportunity, offer a partnership/collaboration. Remember failure is part of life and most certainly part of business too. But many don’t often acknowledge it for many reasons.
23. Tell us something about your education & family background.
Post graduated from NIT, Trichy in the year of 2000 and got placed in MNC through campus recruitment, worked first 3 years in India, next 6 years in USA, and then next 5 years in Singapore and finally returned back to India in year 2015 with start-up plan.
Born & brought up in happy combined family atmosphere in a small village. My father & mother know only agriculture and I like farming right from childhood as I used to help my parents during weekends/Holidays. We are three kids for my parents but me only one who made to higher education and my brother is into agriculture as well. I’m a software engineer by profession but a farmer at heart.
24. What is your USP or biggest strength that makes you stand apart from your competitors?
Well, we don’t sell Factory produced milk like others, we sell only Farm produced milk which is Natural, Fresh & Pure. Our Technology stack and quality process guarantees Zero Adulteration. So Real Milk is not just a Brand, It’s a symbol of “Purity”. Our total milk supply chain is driven by Technology.
25. Why do you think start-ups are so vulnerable to the external business environment? What according to you are the threats to their stability?
Business scalability is key to the success. Most of the times entrepreneurs are happy with the way they see business when it’s in small size but one must think how the idea can be industrialized for mass production and easy of doing business.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Yes, of course. Achieving desired vision and planned goals/milestones, Customer traction, Meeting social responsibilities, and taking all team members along the way.
Bellamkonda Srinivasa Rao
Address: #54-20/5, Ground Floor, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India
Email: [email protected]
Contact Person: Srinivas – 9177302770 / Naresh – 7337441170