India is home to an astounding range of millets, a source of affordable nutrition with its astonishing range of minerals, low-fat content and low-glycemic index, and are natural immunity-enhancers.
In recent decades, India’s diet, as well as palates, have seen a massive shift. Out went our powerhouse range of millets and in came new staples like rice and wheat. Thanks to Government policies and subsidies. millets started shrinking in the Indian fields and subsequently on the Indian plates.
Now, with the barrage of fast-food and ‘ready-to-eat’ meals, “fortified’ brands, even rice and wheat seem to be in danger of being thrown out of the window. As adults, some of us at least seem to have a benchmark and reference for safe, home-cooked meals, but kids today are in danger of cementing the notion that ‘french fries’ and ‘Nutella milk’ are full, wholesome meals. And just like that, a whole nation’s food culture is changing.
As parents, we experience a lot of hand-wringing against the constant barrage of media enticements and food engineering(not to mention the amazing food photography). That’s when two moms, Shauravi Malik and Meghna Narayan decided to stop wringing their hands and start doing something with them, driven by a vision to put millets back on the plate- especially kids’ plates!
And Slurrp Farm was born.
Kidskintha had a brief chat with the two dynamic women telling us about their journey while building a brand to reckon with while sticking to their values and standards. Read on…
Hello Meghana and Shauravi. It’s such a pleasure to have you both here. You both have lived the fast life as business consultants in your previous avatars. How did you both come to work with the food industry, especially for kids with Slurrp Farm?
Shauravi: It started very innocently. Meghana and I met. We got along like a house on fire from the first time we met. We had some fun business ideas, which we joked about, but we always went back to our jobs the next day. At this point we were really living in the bubble – we both had that dream job and entrepreneurship seemed too risky.
At some point when we had children ourselves, it all changed. We felt that as parents we were really short of options to feed our children, and at the same time, it also felt like we really should do something about it. It was not a case of taking a business model from another country; it was literally a giant-sized gap which we felt the lack of in our own life. And we also wanted to start a business which could be a force for good.
Our Motto is simple: Healthy food MUST also be tasty food- Slurrp Farm
So, we went about and figured out how to make an absolutely yummy organic fruit and vegetable purée product for children; we did all the recipes, branding, packaging and legwork and it was all ready to hit the shelves in literally record time. Except as we did more market research and tried samples – we realized there was very little demand for it. It would be something we could not scale beyond the affluent Indian parent soon.
So, we went back to the drawing board and did a ton of market research, product R&D, followed by a lot of thinking and decided to follow our heart. We realized the answers lay in our own grandmothers’ kitchens. We made cookies with a childhood friend who is the most incredible baker, we dug into ingredients from our childhood but tried to make them tasty and not stodgy. And every year along the way, we want to be better than we were the year before, and always innovating to have the best product possible.
When did you finally take the plunge? How has it been so far?
Slurrp Farm was launched in October 2016, with a mission to provide a healthy snack and mealtime options for young children and their parents. And in just over two years, what started as an experiment in our own home kitchens has now turned into a loved kids food brand; available at 600 stores across 8 cities in India, serving close to 5 lakh customers and have a 40% repeat rate on Amazon. We also sell across several other leading online platforms including BigBasket, FirstCry, and BabyChakra. From May onwards we are also going international in the UAE and the UK.
This journey has been exhilarating! We don’t come from traditional business families, and we have learned a lot on the go. Meghana jokes that both our roles are really co-chaser 1 and co-chaser 2, and this is what we spend most of our time doing; we are both very persistent.
More than Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, we have really learned by visiting umpteen number of organic food farmers and companies, raw materials co-operatives and vendors, food technologists, scientists, normal farmers, machinery and equipment manufacturers, small and large food companies, packaging vendors, food retailers, nutritionists, food labs, etc. The list is endless. And THIS journey crisscrossing so many parts of India – villages, towns and large cities – has been what has truly shaped our vision for Slurrp Farm.”
That’s some amazing insights there. What do you think is the most important factor in bringing a change in our diets, especially to fight the pester power of children?
It’s almost impossible to stop your child from eating junk food completely. Rather than having an absolute “NO” rule, it’s best to act smart in your kitchen. Break the monotony to avoid ‘food-boredom’. Remember, children are more likely to get uninterested and crave for junk food if we are serving the same old daal-roti-sabji day in, day-out! Jazz it up for them! Add some new and different food (styles and shapes) to your child’s diet regularly. The more variety you provide your child at home, the less likely he/she is going to crave junk.
Also, try different cooking methods—for example, you could decorate a regular ragi pancake (Slurrp Farm’s Banana Choco-chip or Chocolate & Supergrains pancake) with banana or cut apple/strawberry slices. Now that’s a meal in itself! Or prepare healthy dosas from our selection and serve them piping hot with homemade chutneys.
During snack time, you could offer our cookies (made with real butter and zero trans-fat. We don’t add any synthetic flavors, preservatives or stabilizers. Just wholesome natural ingredients from a mother’s kitchen) or ragi-based munchies (fun starry snacks made with ragi and jowar available in three amazing flavors) to beat the hunger pangs.
At Slurrp Farm, we aim to provide an easy and hassle-free solution to parents who are worried about their little fussy eaters. We use traditional Indian ingredients like Millets and Lentils with ZERO trans-fat, less sugar than other brands and little to no maida and preservatives. We want food to be healthy, tasty and fun so that kids can go yum!
I love Slurrp farm’s packaging and how it reads “Made by two mothers” at the corner. I think it gives a message of solidarity and understanding. Brilliant work there. What have been some of the key challenges and opportunities along your journey?
We fundamentally believe that we need to change how we eat as a society. Our guiding motto is that healthy food MUST also be tasty food. While we realized that there was a gap of healthy eating options in the children’s food market in India, it is only when we had our own children that we truly understood the trials and tribulations of feeding our kids right. We spent a lot of time studying, sourcing and understanding the several problems with the food chain today. This context above of people asking us and the gaps we faced ourselves was the trigger for us to set up Slurrp Farm.
The start-up has now grown into a food company that retails at over 500 outlets in 3 major Indian cities, with an ambitious plan to reach 2000 stores, across 8 Indian cities by the end of this year.
Challenges: Looking back, our biggest challenge has been to find a way to make what tastes delicious in a home kitchen, tastes the same on a shelf when it reaches your hands, without adding anything to it. We didn’t know that this would be such a challenge. But we also didn’t know we would have so much fun on the journey and meet so many cool people along the way who would help us figure it out…
Opportunities: Offline Distribution: India currently and mostly shops offline and we have just begun to build as well as increase our offline presence. Hence the opportunity of witnessing presence at all major retail, modern-trade stores across the country is significant. Distribution is key, and as a brand, you are only as big as the number of customers you can reach. We are serving 300,000 customers in 500 retail stores across 3 major cities of the country (New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai). Our aim is to expand to 8 cities this year and be available on the shelves of over 2000 retail outlets. We are currently in about 50 key modern trade stores across New Delhi and will launch in other metros in the next few months.
Brand extensions: We have built a brand which communicates a sense of fun to our young audience using all the Indian animals. This is also with the intention to ensure a strong sense of brand recall and make room in the future for interesting brand extensions in the children’s market (storybooks, animated videos, recipe books, and other collaterals).
You are both mothers. In fact, that’s what started you off on this whole venture. How do you balance motherhood and entrepreneurial responsibilities?
We are both mothers, and that is one of the primary reasons why Slurrp Farm came into being. With practice, we’ve both learned some lessons that help create symmetry in our lives as mothers and entrepreneurs. It takes a village to grow a business( as well as a child), and we’ve both been fortunate enough to get all the support from our families, friends, and a wonderful team of talented individuals in our workforce.
Starting this company was a lot like having another baby, and the energy and dedication required to bring it to where it is today was extraordinary. We won’t lie- we’ve struggled, we’ve juggled, worked long hours, and had disappointing days- but it’s all been worth it when we see our kids, and photos and videos of kids from parents across the country, munching on our products and absolutely loving it.
What is your vision for Slurrp Farm?
Our vision for the company is to build India’s most loved food brand for children! We feel this last decade has seen several iconic INDIAN brands coming to life in various segments – juice, yogurt, healthy snacking, etc. and we aspire to do the same in our space. When a customer holds a Slurrp Farm product in their hand – we want them to feel tremendous pride at holding a beautiful Made in India and Made for Indians product in their hands.
And in 10 years we hope to have driven an inflection, a REAL change in the healthy (and yummy!) food market. We’re dreaming of being available on every retail shelf and in millions of kitchens, homes, and hearts! With lots of storybooks, cookbooks, and yummy food that bring the Slurrp Farm family characters to life, and tickle children’s palates at the same time!
Find the entire range of Slurrp Farm products here.