Pipaltree Beverages- Smart beverages for a healthier you

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Food is the basic source of energy, and despite that our choices regarding it are terrible. We rely on junk food, without even realizing that its name itself says that its junk i.e. useless. But lack of time, workload or a simple trend of choosing a certain type of food leaves us with no choice. To compensate for the same, different beverages are provided to the consumers with nutritional elements in them since it is easier to consume and store them. But to keep it in a consumable form for long, preservatives are added to them which makes the very purpose of making a drink healthy useless. We are so used to consuming beverages with everything we eat now, or even just to pass time while we are waiting for someone, that it seems impossible to go back and change our habits. While it is difficult to abstain from these drinks, it is easier to shift to a healthier one.

Based out of Mumbai, Pipaltree Beverages aims at addressing lifestyle health issues through smart food products to be consumed in the most convenient way. There is plenty of competition in the FMCG sector, but what makes them stand out is the focus around innovation and keeping it relevant to the consumer’s need. They have recently launched their first flagship product under dairy beverage category with the name BREKKIE – All Day Breakfast Shake which is meant for time-starved urban consumers who due to their busy and hectic lifestyle tend to skip the most important meal of the day and therefore Brekkie can act as a meal replacement which is loaded down with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins, this healthy low-sugar breakfast shake claims to keeps you full for 3 hrs and can be a good replacement for unhealthy snacks.

Going through multiple failed factory trials and a struggle to find the international quality standard partner who can supply small quantities of raw material and manufacture limited quantity was not enough to stop them from making their mark in the beverage industry. With an aspiration to be one of India’s leading functional beverage player, Pipaltree Beverages aims at bringing innovative smart food products in the market to meet the nutrition needs of individuals. Here is an interview of Satish Negi with Inventiva describing all struggles and goals he aims to fulfill.PipalTreeBevLogo1. What is the source of inspiration behind the name of your venture, Pipal Tree Pvt Ltd?
We named our company after the sacred “Pipal tree” which is synonymous to Wisdom & Goodness! We drew inspiration from it, and we are focused on creating a line of thoughtful food products that can help consumers in making better food choices for their health and wellness.

2. Who all are your target audience/clients?
Our target audiences are time-pressed busy urban consumers or anyone looking out for a healthier drink.

3. Your current operations are located in which regions and Where are you based at (city, state, country)?
We are based out of Mumbai and currently operate in the city.

4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
We are addressing lifestyle health issues with the help of smart food products to be consumed in the most convenient way.

5. Would you like to Share the idea or story behind the foundation of PipalTree Beverages?
A Couple of years back I came across some shocking consumer data about nutrition deficiency among Indian consumers, there were not enough options in the market for these consumers to make a healthy product choice, clearly there was a gap and an opportunity for us to address that gap. All our products have the mandate to have meaningful nutritional values which can help consumers perform better in their day to day lifestyle.

6. Do you face any rivalry and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Every single beverage kept in a refrigerator of a retail shop is fighting for space. So yes, in a way we face rivalry from all of them. However, we clearly fall under health and functional domain whereas the majority of products are meant to just quench the thirst with high sugar content and are full of additives/preservatives.

7. How do you identify your co-founder? Would you like to tell us something about them?
Since I come from research and consulting background so identifying the market/product/Innovation was something I was meant to do. However, there was a gap at the front end and I needed someone with a strong FMCG sales & distribution background and that’s how I met Mr. Jasmeet Khanna through a common connection. He has got solid sales experience in working with MNC’s like Coca-Cola, Redbull, Bacardi and couple of startups where he has set up the whole distribution channel for them from scratch. More than the credentials we ideologically connected very well in the very first meet, he understood the vision of the company and we were on the same page while discussing the future market, consumer trends, changing consumer buying behavior and the need for smart and innovative food products. After that, It did not take much time for us to shake hands and work together.

8. What is your idea of team formulation? What type of qualities do you search for in your team?
A Team is the backbone of any organization and therefore each department of the company should be led by strong team leaders, though it is difficult for bootstrap startups like us to hire and compensate senior people from the industry at this stage it is very important to have the right set of skills in the company. My strategic approach to this is by selling our idea and vision to those people whom we wanted to be a part of the team and then figure out how we can compensate them and I have not shied away from giving some sweat equity at this stage. Qualities wise I love to work with anyone with strong ethics, who shares the same vision, is motivated, energetic and work at a faster pace. We encourage open platform so we would love to have anyone who can challenge the status quo and provide a conventional approach in order to get better results.

9. What are your growth or expansion plans for the next 2 or 5 years?
For the next 2-5 years, we will be focussing on setting up more distribution channels in A & B tier cities, Build sizeable sales and marketing team, have a strong online presence. We are also planning to launch 3 to 4 new products.

10. Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
We aspire to become one of India’s leading functional beverage player.

11. What are your short-term goals?
Currently, we are focusing on entering the markets of Mumbai & Pune, with a presence in all the A++ stores, Modern trade, and major institutions, and also on launching one SQU with a new flavor.

12. Have you risen any funding yet? Are you looking for the same?
Since the Proof of the concept is done and we are getting a great response from our consumers, we feel the organic way to move forward is to move fast and therefore yes, we are looking for funding at this stage and as a part of the process we are in talks with a few Angel investors and a couple of VC’s.

13. Please share your incubation days struggle issues while setting up this venture, and how did you resolve them?
We are still hustling but if I have to pick a few from the early days then I would say for any FMCG startups who want to manufacture products other than traditional masses product is the “manufacturing side”. Since everything in this space is on a certain scale, it becomes very difficult to find the right partner who can supply quality raw material in small quantities. Secondly, if it is a co-packing model then it is very important to find the right co-packer partner who believes in the future of your company or else they won’t take you seriously because of the small volume of your business, this can sometimes lead to delay in the product launch. Manufacturing side was totally new to me and coming from a corporate setup I felt that it was a little unorganized. Since our product formulation was complex and we wanted our products to be free of preservatives and additives, we ended up running to multiple factories and going through lab trials which most of the time was disappointing and very frustrating, sooner than later I learned to be patient knowing that our simple product with complex formulation will only help us to create the barrier of entry for other players. We never wanted to compromise on the quality of ingredients so sometimes we had to shell extra cost to import it from other countries. So far we have changed 2 contract manufactures and moved to the third one just because we were not convinced on certain aspects which were important for our product to be perceived as clean and healthy. I guess all these and many other challenges are bound to be there with companies but the key is to make a decision and act quickly with a new solution.

14. What was or has been the most challenging part of your journey? How do you overcome the same?
The most challenging part was to be alone in this journey during the early days. Let us face the fact, it is a tough journey when you have no income for a year and you are still in the process of creating a product which you don’t know when it will hit the market due to multiple failed trials. In these type of situations I have always reached out to my family and close friends, I have made them my consumer, critic, champions, advocate and kept them updated with what is happening so I feel like I am working with a team and it surprises me how sometimes their genuine feedback and suggestions helped me in making a few right decisions. The other thing which has helped me in overcoming the above challenge is by building a strong mindset to remind me again and again that this was my decision and it is my responsibility to take control of things and get it right anyhow and this keeps me moving.

15. What is your idea of stress management?
Nothing is permanent ,so aren’t your problems! So, relax and don’t take everything so seriously. Sometimes I also practice Yoga and meditation.

16. What do you do to escape the work life in your leisure time?
I travel and Spend some quality time with my family and friends.

17. Where would you like to escape to for a holiday?
I would love to escape to Europe for a holiday.

18. Whom do you consider your idol/role model or biggest motivator and why?
Ratan Tata – He is the most prominent Indian leader whose inner values and outer actions demonstrate an evolved higher level of responsible leadership.

19. What makes entrepreneurs different from service class professionals?
Entrepreneurship is a mindset, you continuously live it.

20. Which part of your life would you like to rewrite if given a chance to restart with your career today?
None. I would be doing exactly the same.

21. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Some things that affected us were budget cuts, uneven timings but flexible though, and having the same place for work and home. Social life decreased drastically but I am meeting more like-minded people through networking.

22. Is there anything, you’d like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Taking action to become an entrepreneur itself is a very bold and courageous step. However, I believe the most important part is to have a mindset of taking responsibility and ownership to make it a success.

23. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I completed my Masters in Business from the University of East London. My father was in Merchant Navy and mother was a teacher and principal in the govt. school in Uttarakhand, “both retired now”. Our hometown is in Chamba, a beautiful small place in Uttarakhand.

24. What is your USP or biggest strength that makes you stand apart from your competitors?
Novelty and innovation in our product speak volume about our USP but it’s not just the innovation part where we stand tall in front of our consumers because we know that we are bringing some difference in their lifestyle through meaningful nutrition.

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?
I believe it is the same for everyone, both startups, and grown-up companies. In fact, startups have more flexibility to mold things accordingly with less impact but no doubt startups have limited bandwidth to absorb the impact especially if it is monetary, in this case, startups have less tendency to consume the cost as compared to big companies. The biggest threat to the stability of a startup is the liquidity factor, if startup runs out of cash without immediate arrangement then it is very close to dying even with a great product in hand.

26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I believe success is a journey, so from this definition, as far as I am progressing to the next stage with a measured result I consider it to be successful.

Satish Negi
Address – Mumbai
Phone – 7738009097
Email – [email protected]
Website – www.pipaltreebev.com

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