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INTERVIEW

“We plan to sell 3-5 million bottles in the first year”
Monday, 07 October, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
With increase in demand for healthy alternatives for water varieties generally available, AV Organics has introduced Evocus that aims at providing superior hydration, better detoxification, improved metabolism and heightened alertness. The company aims to disrupt the Indian bottled water industry by creating a new segment with its brand, which it claims to be 100% natural, black alkaline water enriched with 70+ minerals with high pH level.

In an interaction Aakash Vaghela, co-founder and MD, AV Organics, in an email interaction with Ashwani Maindola, shares details on the opportunities available in health drinks in India. Excerpts:

Give an overview to your company.
Our company was founded in 2018 with an aim to offer products that provide consumers with wellness and better living by way of optimum hydration and detoxification. We identified the need of the consumers, for a healthier alternative to regular bottled water in India and concocted Evocus, our flagship product. Recently launched in Pune, Chandigarh and Gujarat, our next target markets are Delhi NCR, followed by Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Indore.    

We intend to cover all the major cities by March 2020. We plan to sell 3-5 million bottles in the first year. Available in packs of 6 and 24 bottles online, we have partnered with Amazon, Snapdeal and bigbasket. The brand is also available on the company’s online store at www.drinkevocus.com.

The journey so far has been quite overwhelming. We are witnessing good traction on the brand and positive product acceptance in the markets, wherever we are present so far. We have a lot of enquiries on our website and online store from around the country. We are very encouraged by the response.

What was the idea behind launching the brand?
The idea behind launching the brand is the evolving lifestyle of consumers in India. Going by industry reports, there’s greater public awareness about health, well-being and proper nutrition among the present-day consumers as compared to a decade ago. People are now more conscious about the importance of being well-hydrated; about how proper intake of water detoxifies and flushes our system, while improving bone and muscle health as well as burning fat, amongst other benefits.

Moreover, people have gradually become more careful about limiting sugar intake, carbonated drinks, caffeine, additives, etc. Health-conscious Indian consumers are constantly seeking healthier options in the foods and beverages they consume. And a vast proportion of these health-conscious consumers include millennials and Gen Z.

Considering this scenario, it was clear consumers need a healthier alternative to the regular bottled water presently being sold in the country. But this has to be specially-packaged water that meets people’s daily nutrition needs, while simultaneously improving hydration and balancing the body’s overall mineral levels.

What is the vision and goal for your brand?
The goal is to become a global brand by making it available in all the markets of the world via online and offline trade platforms. We intend to spread awareness of the benefits of the brand and thereby contribute in making a difference in our consumers’ lives by contributing to their health and wellness.

Tell us about the product’s manufacturing and R&D.
The R&D and manufacturing of the product is done in two parts.
a) The organic mineral concentrate has been developed in Texas, USA. The minerals are extracted from deep down the Earth's crust and then they are purified by a unique method and process in USA.

b)    The resulting mineral compound concentrate is then imported and transported to our Vadodara plant. Thereafter, via our own unique formulation, the minerals are infused in fully-purified water, wholly enriching it, ensuring proper pH, highest quality and standards of mineral composition and no-taste attribute, using the minerals extracted from the crust of the earth.

Since the brand is world-class alkaline water, our facility falls in the same league. The complete process is performed under a HVAC cleanroom environment, hosting state-of-the-art machinery. Stringent standards and rigorous quality-control measures drive optimum quality, food safety and sterility. In ensuring quality is not compromised, the company has built a top-notch R&D unit on the premises.

What has been the investment in setting up the business and what is the expansion plan?
We have invested about US$1 million, which includes cutting edge product research and setting up of a fully automated manufacturing-cum-bottling plant, which is spread across 50,000 square feet. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is in Vadodara, Gujarat.

We have recently launched our product in Pune, Chandigarh and Gujarat. Our next target market is Delhi-NCR, followed by Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Indore. We intend to cover all the major cities by March 2020.

Who are your target consumers?
In terms of target audience we are not restricting ourselves to one demographic; we are looking at targeting consumers across demographics. However, we are targeting consumers of certain lifestyle segments, who are gradually becoming more self-aware, constantly looking for healthier options and are becoming more health-conscious. These are the consumers who are looking for something that adds to their nutritional intake.

What kind of opportunity do you see in the market for this product?
We are witnessing a gradual evolution of India market as it is opening up to experiment unique product categories that offer value to customers. It is a competitive market. However, a good product creates its own space and that is what we are doing for the brand. Indian consumers today are quite receptive to new products, provided they see direct benefits.

How does the revenue part work?
Currently, we are at a nascent stage, therefore it’s too early to discuss revenues. However, elaborating on our delivery model would be more appropriate. As we have unveiled our brand in a new category, we are seeking to establish faster connect with consumers and intend to set up the right distribution network. We are appointing distributors and entering various markets in a phased manner. In the current financial year, we plan to have footprints in the metros and mini-metros.

What is the distribution strategy and target markets for this year?
Since this is a premium product, we are targeting high-end retail chains and super markets to place our products. We are already available in Pune, Chandigarh and Gujarat and will be launching in Delhi- NCR soon. This will be followed by Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Indore.

How many jobs have been created by the company so far and what is the future plan in terms of job creation?
We are constantly recruiting people in sales as well as the manufacturing facility. As the business  scales up, we intend to set up a bigger plant, which in turn will generate more jobs. Besides, many jobs will emerge indirectly as the brand makes its presence felt in the market, creating downstream opportunities.

How do you see the opportunities in the food processing sector in India and do you see enough policy intervention to guide startups to setup successful businesses?
The food processing sector in India is on an upswing and the demand for healthy, safe, hygienic and convenience driven food is slated to increase at a significant pace in the future.

Government of India has played a significant role in encouraging startups, by introducing incentives and various policy interventions, conducive for the growth of startup and new business models. Government’s flagship initiatives like Start-up India and Make in India aimed to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups in the country have contributed largely in economic growth and have been generating large-scale employment opportunities. The incentivisation under Start-up India programme has supported in expediting the business processes and promotes business growth.
 
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