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Can Snacking be Healthy? Learn From This Start-up Run by Two Sisters Yogabars, founded by Suhasini and Anindita Sampath, plans to expand its presence from 8,000 stores to 50,000 in the next three-four years, introduce new product lines and turn profitable in the next two years

By Debroop Roy

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Anindita and Suhasini Sampath, Co-Founders, Yogabars (L-R)

Coming out of a yoga class one day a little more than four years ago, sisters Suhasini and Anindita Sampath had a realization. They were living in the US then, and there were a host of natural healthy foods available while no such options existed in India.

"India is such a large country where there are so many health options available but when it comes to snacking, the food that's available off the counter is quite unhealthy," says Suhasini. And that's how they zeroed in on the idea of setting up Yogabars, a healthy foods brand aimed at the age bracket of 25-35 and for people who, she says, are "reasonably health conscious".

The Beginning

Before launching their first product line—energy bars—the sisters worked with 50-75 chefs to finalize the recipe. The brand's energy bars are primarily millet-based with a lot of dry fruit content and no processed sugar.

Having finalized the recipe, they went to banks for loans in order to set up their factory. All the machines were designed by Anindita. "We used to take these buses to Coimbatore and get our machines designed...because nobody was manufacturing bars at that point," Suhasini says.

The initial period was tough, she says, considering they had to create everything on their own. But, despite the challenges, the few extra months of work has served them well in hindsight, according to her.

"We wanted to do everything in a way in which you can control the business, and also make sure that you do deliver on the promises that you give consumers," she says.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Suhasini is a chartered accountant and has worked with KPMG while Anindita worked at EY. So, did the risk that comes with becoming an entrepreneur play on their minds while leaving relatively stable career options?

"We just think that entrepreneurship is extremely rewarding," says Suhasini, adding that it's not the monetary aspect as one can get a fat cheque as they progress in a job as well.

For them, it was important that they create an impact in an area that is fundamental to people's lives.

"We felt that if we created a truly natural health food company, it would also impact positively a lot of people's lives and I think that was really the motivation," she says.

Making of Products

At the ideation stage, they decide the ingredients that they want in a product and then work around the proportion of those ingredients, according to Suhasini.

They then work with experts to arrive at the final product.

Founded in 2015, the company currently has four product lines—energy bars, protein bars, breakfast bars and muesli, which they launched earlier this year.

Trajectory of Growth

Bengaluru-based Yogabars' products are available in about 8,000 stores across most major cities in India including New Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. "We hope to take that up to 50,000 stores in the next three or four years," Suhasini says.

They are also working on developing more products such as some form of protein-rich food and trail mixes.

In terms of revenue, the company has grown close to 150 per cent every year since launch. "We will be an INR 100-crore brand by the end of next (fiscal) year," says Suhasini.

And while the company is profitable on a unit-basis, is there a definite path to profitability overall?

"Maybe in two years," she says.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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