‘I Say Organic’ Is Capitalizing On The Growing Indian Sentiment For Organic Food
After spending six months learning organic farming in rural India, its founder Ashmeet Kapoor has setup ‘I Say Organic’ to make India take further steps towards healthy living, on one hand, and to improve livelihoods of farmers, on the other
On the face of it, it is very difficult to convince meat eaters to switch to vegetarianism or even include more vegetables into their daily diet. This came to mind while I was watching the documentary, Forks over Knives which explores the possibility of people changing their diet from animal-based to plant-based food, to eliminate life-threatening diseases. “We’re at a tipping point because people have started questioning why we’re eating non-organic food at all,” quips Ashmeet Kapoor, founder of the Delhi/ NCR based organic food retail brand, I Say Organic.
Making Organic the Norm
After graduating with a degree in Entrepreneurship from Brown University, Kapoor actively started thinking about what resonated with him. Upon his return to India, he spent six months traveling across rural India and learning organic farming. It was during this period that he realized that there was a dire need to improve livelihoods for farmers. He decided that in the field of social-environmental impact and sustainability lay his calling.
I Say Organic started in 2012 with a focus on making organic food a norm. “We currently collaborate with over 1,000 organic farmers across India, to ensure that the right stock is available through the year”, explains Kapoor.
While Indians may have an eye on what goes into their palates, they are still far away from taking organic consumption on par with non-organic food, owing to challenges of price, accessibility and availability. For example, today, mangoes are available during winter and strawberries in summer because pesticides and chemical-based farming has created an abundance in the market. As Kapoor says, people have lost touch with what seasonality is because of the ‘always-available’ marketplace that we live in. “Moreover, when it comes to organic food, the handling costs are high; farmers demand a premium because they are smart enough to know that the market commands a certain price,” he notes.
In spite of the price difference between organic food and chemically treated vegetables, demand for organic food is at its highest in India. For example, the country produced around 1.35 million MT of certified organic products in 2015-16 and the market is growing at 25 to 30 per cent at present. “There is an awareness building among a small section of people about the benefits of organic food and this sentiment is spreading rapidly,” notes Kapoor.
The Organic Farm to Table Model
Since founding, I Say Organic has been taking measures to educate customers about the benefits of going organic and helping farmers switch to growing organic produce. Although, making organic food more accessible, consistent in quality and affordable has not been easy for the brand, Kapoor is confident of their progress in the months to come. “We’re currently hitting 120 orders a day on our website alone, with additional sales coming in from our Gurgaon outlet. In the coming year, we should be able to accelerate our online sales by at least three times”, says Kapoor. “We also plan to add more outlets, expand to newer geographies in the coming months and eventually home delivery, as well,” he adds. In terms of growth, the company clocked revenues of Rs.4 crore this financial year and it aims to reach Rs. 12 crore by next year.
One visit to their office and 20-tonne-strong cold storage space in Okhla (New Delhi) reveals that timely delivery of orders, hygiene and segregation of spoilt produce is key to its functioning. “We have over 200 products on offer and the average basket size is Rs. 1,000,” shares Kapoor, while we’re on a tour of the office space.
As we wrap up the interview, Kapoor says, “I am convinced that organic will be part of our future. Awareness levels are going up, farming techniques are evolving to ensure there is no reduction in yield and, most importantly, the consumers are willing to pay a little more to go the organic route.”
I Say Organic
Founder: Ashmeet Kapoor
Revenue Target: Rs. 12 crore in FY18
Product reach: 120 orders a day online through a single retail outlet
Insights from I Say Organic
Distribution Approach: While the brand initially setup an exclusive retail outlet in Select City Walk Mall in New Delhi; it soon realized that it wasn’t the most viable location for customers to go grocery shopping. It shut down the outlet and soon opened a retail outlet (its only outlet) in Gurgaon, close to a cluster of 25,000-30,000 apartments.
Funding Approach: While the investment landscape maybe changing in the country with investors now looking beyond 20x growth numbers and going after solid business models, the company is confident that the time is right for them to seek funding.
Marketing Approach: The brand has always maintained a balance between offline and online marketing. Right from digital marketing to offline workshops with food bloggers, organic cooking classes and visits to organic farms, I Say Organic is doing it all to create a niche.
The Snapdeal Pivot
In January 2013, Snapdeal had a mere US $100,000 in the bank, a small chunk left after it had burned through almost all of the US $57 million it had raised since September 2009. Th...
Transformation by design
Polaris’ Arun Jain has engineered a unique strategy at the mid-sized financial technology company, incubating a robust products company from within a running services entity. He ...
In coffee, we trust
Tata Starbucks is the coming together of two iconic brands. 34-year-old Avani Saglani Davda, the company’s CEO, explains to us why her game plan for Starbucks in India is to “g...
Where there’s traction, Money will follow
Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO, Zomato, shares a great working relationship with investor Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Info Edge for one simple reason: Bikhchandani is more entreprene...
Playing 20 Questions with Mittu Chandilya
The AirAsia India boss discusses his interview experience with Tony Fernandes, his firm-and-fair management style and why it is crucial to be a serial innovator to win in the aviat...
Where ownership and management are different
Dr. Ranjan Pai, Managing Director, Manipal Education and Medical Group, has led the professionalisation of the Group by consciously empowering his senior managers, seeding several ...
Building a Happy Company
Ashok Soota-led Happiest Minds Technologies has woven happiness into its business process. Find out how you can do it too....
Narayana Health’s ten-year plan
Narayana Health’s Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty wants to rewrite India’s healthcare story. His personal mantra: it is pointless talking about all the advancements in healthcare if peo...
Creative Dialogue on Scaling Up
Cognizant’s Lakshmi Narayanan indulges in a creative, freewheeling chat with L. Kannan and Vijay Babu of Vortex Engineering, a solar-ATM manufacturer....
"Businesses don’t go anywhere, people do"
Mindtree’s Subroto Bagchi urges entrepreneurs to think of their journey as a process of continuously creating infrastructure – physical, intellectual and emotional. He specific...