We are all aware of our cravings for fast food. Whether it is chocolates or fried snacks, we all snack on it and enjoy it, albeit with a tinge of guilt. In spite of their long-term ill effects, fast food makes up a market that is worth billions of dollars globally. In a country like India with a population of over a billion people, fast food is without a doubt, a market that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. One aspiring start-up wants to capitalize on this opportunity and introduce healthy snacks that we can enjoy guilt-free.
Conceived by a young and ambitious entrepreneur fresh out of college, Naka Foods gained support from a government-aided business incubator that helped it launch a nutrition bar. Although the market for nutrition bars has not reached the heights that it has in developed countries like the United States, the founder of the company, Kushal Aradhya is confident about establishing a thriving market for the same.
In dialogue with Kushal Aradhya, CEO
Can you tell us about your Market Landscape?
Our initial internal estimates indicate the market size for nutrition bars in India to be a little over 300 Crore (approximately $30 million) and it’s a new space in India. We think with the increase in the awareness of health and wellbeing coupled with the economic growth, the market for our product is expanding. Add to that the rise of IT sector in the last couple of decades that has ushered in a corporate and sedentary lifestyle, nutrition bars definitely have the potential to become a major player in the overall FMCG (Fast-moving consumer good) sphere. To get a perspective, consider the market size for Nutrition bars in the U.S.A. It is valued at more than 40,000 Crore (approximately $6 billion)
How do you position yourself in the domain? How do you amalgamate the latest technology with business objectives?
We are positioned as a brand dedicated to creating a range of healthy, nutritious, and convenient snacks targeted at the urban lifestyle. We have been on the forefront of the food technology. Additionally, we are the first company in India to have Spirulina in a bar and hold the expertise to use it in other food products. Spirulina is categorized as a superfood that is made up of cyanobacteria safe for human consumption. It has a vast array of nutrients and makes our product an excellent substitute for all the unhealthy snacks out there.
Can you brief us about the history of your company?
We started our work in November 2015 after getting incubated and raising our seed fund at iCreate (International Center for Entrepreneurship and Development), Gujarat. Our company was incorporated as Naka Foods Pvt. Ltd in January 2016. After 6 months, we developed our 1st product in collaboration with scientists from CFTRI and tested it with almost 70 IT offices in collaboration with Snacksmart, a snack vending machine Company in Bangalore. Subsequently, we got selected for amazon Launchpad program.
We have now overcome the challenge associated with taste. Having sufficient confidence in our product, we invested in design and created one of the best packaging designs out there. Our team believes that we are ready for large-scale commercialization of our nutrition bar.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
In the beginning, accounting and legal documentation were a little challenging as it was very new to me. I learned everything that was required and finalized all the legal necessities. Next, it was about finding the right manufacturer who is equipped with the required infrastructure for our product and manufactures the required quantity. With luck, we found the right one with all the FDA and FSSAI approvals right here in Gujarat.
What are your learnings from the previous year that you are keeping in mind while crafting your future roadmap?
The Importance of having the right distribution network will play a vital role in the future growth of our company. It is one of the most important aspects of any FMCG product line. As of now we still haven’t been able to have our product sold in retail outlets all across the country, but as our distribution network grows, we are quite confident of having our nutrition bar sold all across India. The other valuable lesson we have learned is to maintain a positive cash flow, without which our business won’t be sustainable.
How satisfied are your clients with your service? Can you share some of your client’s success stories?
Our Customers are very happy with the value that our product is able to add to their life and we have had doctors and Pediatricians writing to us about our product after trying it online and are waiting to see it available everywhere offline. Getting positive feedback from the medical community was a massive confidence booster for us.
What are your present and future focus areas?
We are currently working on establishing a good distribution network and raising a small amount of capital for our early commercial traction. A strong distribution network would make any expansion sustainable. In future, we hope to have 4 pm bars being sold at every major retail outlet in the country and make it as ubiquitous as some of the most popular chocolate brands.
Meet the enterprising founder and CEO of 4 pm Bar
Kushal Aradhya R is a Graduate of VVIET, Mysore. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering on July 2013. His tremendous love and passion for food processing and technology stimulated him to start his first venture in 2014. It was a food processing company where they manufactured badam milk powder similar to Horlicks or Bournvita and sold nearly 200000 units in the city of Mysore. Realizing that the market for such a product is small, he moved to a bigger city in 2015 after being selected at iCreate for a grooming Program. Later on, Mr. Aradhya pitched his idea for the 4 PM Bar and got his firm incubated.