Business Unusual – My First Moves

Keep some old, add some new

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While the Thrasio model has started making noise in the Indian startup ecosystem this year only. Puru Gupta tried his hands at it 10 years back to build a Healthkart of clean food. In turn, he found his private label True Elements ensuring him more customers and better retention. In 2015, Gupta pivoted from building a marketplace to building the hero brand i.e. True Elements, which is now doing an ARR of 75 crore.



Early on, due to personal challenges in our lives, we realized that most of us take care of our health only after either we or someone around us falls sick - pushing us to change our lifestyle, be it the food we consume or the information around it. That prodded us to work on something that makes people conscious of their health before it gets too late and more proactively. Along with this, we saw that there was a deluge of brands that were trying to reach out to the consumers with varying degrees of promises, most of which promised the moon, without any rocket to reach there. In a way, fancy jargon and tall promises were being given, without any substantial evidence around them. Since we were curious in this space, we realized that there is a lot of information asymmetry around health - in a way, everyone had their own definition (and degreed) of "health". This made the problem at hand only worse.


As we wanted to build more awareness around health and change the habits to more preventive care, we looked around us. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we thought of picking the brands that were underleveraged and could be marketed to reach the right households – brands such as Nature Valley, Roasty Tasty, Borges, Gatorade, etc. So we started with distribution and aggregation on our own portal (marketplace - which had 3500 SKUs across 20 categories - very similar to what Healthkart is sans medicinal products) as they also had limited distribution. Along with that, we also activated these brands across corporate and consumer touchpoints to build awareness around them. However, we noticed that while customers learned about the products/brands, we actually acquired them for the brands and not for us. An outcome of this was that as brand awareness grew, these brands started getting listed at other portals and got placement in the modern trade chains as well. So the customers we acquired for those brands went ahead and bought them from other points of sales eventually.


This prodded us to get our own label on the products we sold to ensure we acquired the customers and retained them as well, across multiple touchpoints (such as housing societies, kiosks in corporate, gyms, hotels, marathons, and restaurants). From being a private label on our marketplace, True Elements has evolved into a brand across powerful channels. While we started with aggregating brands that were genuinely good for consumers, by building a supply chain for them (10 years back, Modern Trade and General Trade were the prominent channels and Amazon was about to spread its wide wings!). This included educating customers on basics, as well as building online channels for those brands outside their existing supply chain. But we still felt the need of identifying a stamp that stood for a clear black-and-white definition of what clean and honest food could be. That's how True Elements was born in 2015 - a clean-label brand that stood for 100% Truth and 0% nonsense (0% False promises, 0% added sugar, 0% preservatives and 0% chemicals).