“Oils have been an inherent part of Indian cooking from the very start, so why was its consumption causing health issues?” she wondered. Sarika took to reading on food purity and healthy diets to know more.
To her surprise, she discovered that the oils that we pick off the shelves go through different kinds of treatments and filtration processes before they reach our kitchen. These processes deprive them of their natural content, doing us more harm than good.
This discovery led Sarika and her son, Shriyansh Agrawal, to set up Sarika Ventures Pvt. Ltd., which offers products under the brand line Saanjh.
”Your body is a high-functioning machine that runs on the food you eat, much like a car that runs on the fuel you put in. When you use high-grade fuel in a car, it runs smoothly and functions to its highest potential. But if you put low-quality fuel in the engine, over time, it ends up harming each part of the machinery, which degrades its performance and hinders its ability to perform well,” says Sarika, Founder and Director, Saanjh.
The idea behind the company
Based in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, Saanjh is a niche health and wellness brand that offers virgin cold-pressed oils made from raw materials that are ethically sourced – be it apricot kernels from abroad, or mustard and peanuts from Jodhpur. The ingredients that go into the making of Saanjh Oils are subjected to screening, and each product is 100 percent pure and natural, with no preservatives, filtration, or refining.
Saanjh initially began as a local set-up where they produced, manufactured, and sold at farmers markets in Delhi and Gurgaon. They busted myths surrounding the negative effects of consumption of oils. “Our aim was to create awareness regarding the side-effects of consuming refined oil, which is commonly used in most households,” Sarika says.
Saanjh’s tagline – ‘Back to Roots’– is a promise towards infusing modernity with the goodness of cultural history and legacy through purity and health.
“It is easy to compromise on the quality of your product when the probability of earning is high, but once you do, the brand loses its value. I have always focused on quality over profit. Once people start to see the value or benefits your product is offering, they start paying attention to what you are saying,” Sarika says.
Quality in its natural form
Sarika wanted to create an alternative approach towards making oils, so that they preserve their natural goodness that benefits the body with its rich nutrient composition and does no harm, unlike refined oils.
“The process of sedimentation is used to separate clear oil from the oil expellers. This oil helps mitigate health issues such as heart disease and obesity. Its application heals skin and bone issues too,” Sarika says. All Saanjh oils are consumable and externally applicable.
“Apricot oil is the best anti-cancer agent. All our sugars are extracted from natural fruits, and are the best alternatives when compared to the conventional and artificial sugar forms available in the market,” she says.
The startup has quality auditors to inspect products on several parameters before packing and dispatching them to clients.
“We cut no corners while manufacturing products, and that helps us maintain consistency in our product quality,” Sarika says.
Using WhatsApp to reach out
Saanjh uses WhatsApp to market their products, share marketing collateral, educate their target audience, and receive orders.
“WhatsApp is like an immediate response space with ready audience groups of like-minded people. So it is easy to communicate about the product and increase its penetration or reach,” Sarika says.
The biggest challenge was to find like-minded people in one space, and WhatsApp groups are of “great help to get this access” to individuals focused on adapting a healthier lifestyle. “The most useful feature is the formation of groups, and secondly, the broadcast option, as it is a single shot multiple target option.”
“WhatsApp is the perfect platform to communicate with clients in distant countries. We also ask our clients to reach out to us on WhatsApp rather than writing long emails, as it saves both time and effort,” she adds.
Sarika’s business was built on the WhatsApp platform, and is growing at 35-40 percent annually. They also offer other products apart from oil. “From your simple aam panna to nimbu paani, we have a wide range of products that will match every individual’s taste. And what makes Saanjh so unique is that we only work with women,” she says.
With a team of six members, Sarika Ventures Pvt Ltd has successfully progressed from its humble beginnings to a renowned reputation as a prominent virgin cold-pressed oil manufacturer in Delhi.
Challenges and the way ahead
When Sarika’s initial set-up began to take off, she started experimenting in solving other problems related to food. She tried to replace conventional sugar by creating natural sugar from different kinds of fruits. Out of these, dates and chikoo sugar have become her key products.
According to Sarika, the journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur hasn’t been easy. There were several challenges on the way, including designing the product, training people to manufacture it, sourcing high-quality raw materials from various sources while keeping the cost to a minimum, maintaining accounts, meeting potential customers…the list goes on.
“It’s hard to find investors who are willing to take a risk when the market is so saturated. I had to start my journey alone and tackle each problem on my own. It’s not easy, but the hustle is worth it to make my dreams come true,” she says.
Sarika has now started expanding her business to health stores in different countries. “When you see something that you have created go out in the world and create value, the joy and satisfaction it brings is all worth the trouble,” Sarika says.