India’s F&B space is brimming with young entrepreneurs. From new food products that tackle sustainability to those longing for authenticity, to those catering to the health conscious market, the market is full of innovative ideas and visions of how India can eat and drink better and healthier. And in the first season of Shark Tank India, F&B entrepreneurs created a wave bagging most of the investments from the sharks of the season.
Infusing jet fuel into the country’s start-up culture, the show connects entrepreneurs with angel investors or sharks. The founders pitch their business and growth plans to the sharks, in the hope of raising funds. The Shark Tank India judges include Aman Gupta, the co-founder and CMO of Boat; Vineeta Singh, CEO & co-founder of Sugar Cosmetics; Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO of People Group, that owns companies like Shaadi.com and Makaan.com; BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover, Ghazal Alagh CEO and founder of the skincare brand MamaEarth; Peyush Bansal, the founder and CEO of Lens Kart and Namita Thapar, CEO of pharma company Emcure Pharma. While there are many food and drink companies that drew the attention of the audience, here are a few which was appreciated by the sharks, got the best deals and gave fantastic business ideas to the budding F&B entrepreneurs.
The Delhi-based food company founded in 2016 specialises in frozen momos with traditional Himalayan ingredients. The company also runs Yangkiez, a line of momo QSRs based out of Delhi. When founder Aditi Madan moved to the capital years ago, she deeply missed the flavours of the Himalayas and her home. This prompted her to launch her own company that tapped into India’s love for momos. Bluepine bowled over the Shark Tank India judges Aman Gupta Vineeta Singh and Ashneer Grover to secure funding of INR 75 lakh for 16 percent equity of her business. But for Madan, this was not her first instinct in the television industry. Madan was seen in Masterchef India where she was highly appreciated by Chef Vikas Khanna.
The company started with four products (like momos and spring rolls) from local resources but are now making around 35+ variants. In the last five years, they have made around 80 lakhs momos and have been providing it to multiple hotels, restaurants and cafes across India.
Sharing more on the same, Madan commented, “It’s been five years since I started my business. However it’s the first time, I’ve got the chance to present my start-up in front of such experienced businessmen who also started from scratch. Being on Shark Tank India is, truly, once in a lifetime experience for me! Not only is it opening doors for my business but is also helping us to reach one step closer to our mission of creating a sustainable future when it comes to food. I am really excited to see the kind of traction my business will get after the show. More than that, I am really grateful to the sharks for giving their time and believing in our venture.”
Skippii Ice Pops
The first business idea to clinch investments from all sharks on the show. Skippii Ice Pops was presented by a Hyderabad-based husband-wife duo. Flooring all the judges on the show with the taste and packaging, the ice pops are available in a range of flavours in RO water and have absolutely no preservatives, flavours or colours. Anuja and Ravi Kabra managed to get INR 1 crore for 15 percent of the equity
Banjara Hills-based Skippi Premium Ice Pops claims to be India’s first ice pops brand. Ravi Kabra, co-founder and CEO; and Anuja Kabra co-founder and COO; share that to produce high-quality products that are clean, green and healthy, they worked towards bringing down the intake of artificial flavours and colours to zero.
Kabra said that they feel like mini-celebrities now. “Whenever we walk into a restaurant, are at any public place or even at our office, people walk up to us and want to click pictures with us. We have achieved something phenomenal, I’d like to believe so.” They have the vision to present their brand on IPL t-shirts for promotion
CoCoFit made the most humble impression on the show. Seeking an investment of only INR five from each shark, its founders left no stone unturned to make their time on the show worthwhile. Shashi Kanth, the founder, commented while introducing his business, “Simply put, coconut meets fitness here. We make and sell close to 135 products that are made of coconut and its by-products. From coolers and slushes to shakes and ice creams, we have them all.”
On how they landed on the show, he shared, “When we came across a notification of Shark Tank India, we applied for it and got to know that we were selected during the initial screening. We then got through phase two and finally the audition. We were already doing brisk business, and now, Shark Tank has helped us get more investors. Rather than getting into negotiations, we decided to give it away for free. It was like us buying three sharks. Based on the traction we received, we had close to 2,800 franchise requests, that’s huge!”
Nomad Food Project
Nomad Food Project is a jam brand specialising in bacon thecha. The founders of this jam brand, Aditya Rai and Advaith Inamke, have asked for INR 40 lakhs in exchange for 10 percent equity of their company in Shark Tank India.
The global jams and preserves market is expected to reach 8.46 billion dollars in 2021 and its rate is growing significantly, by 2026 it may reach 9.87 billion dollars. Many brands are already present in this domain such as Kissan Jam, Bhuira Apricot Jam, La Vieja Fabrica Apricot Mermelada, etc but Nomad Food Project have been able to keep its identity distinctive
“ We are disrupting the jams market as no one has done savoury jams before us, especially not anything with meat and it's really amazing to see people try it for the first time and go nuts! That feeling can only be felt when the products themselves set you apart more than anything else. However, with our thechas we have managed to hit the condiment market out there too. Our thechas are mean alternatives to the same old pork pickles that we've all tried at some point or the other,” Advaith Inamke, co-founder commented.
Interestingly, Rai and Inamke started Nomad Food Project as a research topic while graduating from IHM Mumbai, doing their bachelor's in hotel management. “We’ve always been attracted towards trends that are out of the box and hold the capacity to change consumer trends,” Rai commented
Wakao Foods, a jackfruit-based vegan food brand has become India’s first startup to be backed by all three female sharks on Shark Tank India. The brand received funding of INR 75 lakh for 21 percent equity from SUGAR Cosmetics, MamaEarth, and Emcure Pharmaceuticals in the 1st edition of Shark Tank India.
Founded by Sairaj Dhond, Wakao Foods is a sustainable brand that aims at bringing plant-based ‘Ready to Cook’ and ‘Ready to Eat’ products to the Indian market. Wakao’s current offering of jackfruit meat is ethically sourced and hand-picked from farms and hygienically manufactured. The jackfruit has been an obvious choice of product for its versatility, meat-like texture, and nutritive value (high in fiber, low in calories and fats). All Wakao products have no preservatives with a shelf life of one year and require no refrigeration.
Sairaj Dhond, founder of Wakao Foods commented, “As someone who grew up watching Shark Tank, coming on this globally acclaimed platform and getting funded has been a great milestone for me and my team. This further solidifies our belief and efforts to introduce innovative and disruptive F&B product categories that will change how consumers perceive plant-based meat. We are looking forward to aggressively expanding our footprint in the next few months and acquiring a bigger clientele in the industry.”
For Wakao Foods, the sharks that have come along on this journey with them to create the perfect amalgamation, bringing in key expertise that will drive and expand the business multi-folds. Emcure Pharmaceuticals, currently present in 70 countries will open doors for the brand to export its products across the world.
In a Can
One beverage company that attracted too many eyeballs was In a Can cocktails. Entrepreneurs and hotel management graduates Sameer Mirajkar and Viraj Sawant dreamed up their company in the middle of the pandemic. The canned cocktail company offers low-calorie cocktails that are ready-to-go and easy to consume, with flavours that include rum latte, whisky collins, gin and tonic and more. The partners asked for INR 50 lakh rupees for two percent equity in the company but ended up getting a deal of INR one crore for 10 percent equity from sharks Ashneer Grover, Aman Gupta, Namita Thapar and Anupam Mittal.
“The idea of In A Can came one evening at a house party when Viraj and I realised that people were bored of the same fizzy mixers, beers and juices. They wanted to have cocktails but either did not have the ingredients or the know-how and equipment,” said Mirajkar. “Immediately we knew there was a need in the market for some quality cocktails and a new drinking experience.”
It ticks off other boxes for weight-watching millennials these premixed cocktails use natural ingredients with very little sugar and no preservatives or artificial sweeteners. As a result, each can has less than 100 calories.