Tirupur is a buzzing city, which made a mark in exports and in a way is big forex revenue earner. And the entrepreneurship thrived in all its glory, and growing amidst the environment of exuberance and seeing fellow Tirupurians grow, Deepa as a college girl was bitten by entrepreneurship as an idea. The bachelors she did was B.Sc., Nutrition, Food Service Management and Dietetics at the PSG College of Arts & Sciences (also my alma mater), she went on to do her Masters in the same at Womens Christian College, Chennai at both places to pursue what perhaps would become her calling. Quite often we don’t plan and sometimes we do. Here the story of Deepa is perhaps a mix of both.
During her college days, Deepa would turn businessman with preparing masala powders. So who were her patrons, she found a set of dyeing factory canteens where she could sell them and that was a start, looking at doing business. It was successful to the effort she was making and she had no complaints.
Cut to 2019, Deepa has become an established player in the food industry with Some More Foods and First Spoon added to her portfolio. It was a journey worth the effort she says during our chat over emails, and on phone.
The younger days and the impact of Tirupur
“I could see entrepreneurship and businesses around me as I grew up in Tirupur. The city made headlines for its exports even while the other tier 2 cities were trying to establish themselves. It was fascinating to watch the people from every walk of life being entrepreneurs and living like a business men. It was very true that every one desired to be an entrepreneur in some time, even if they were working in one part of the company. So this was the buzz and I think seeing that from close quarters has had an impact on me. When I say close quarters even everyone in the close family were running a business and were entrepreneurs in their own right.”
“So there was this inspiration be on my own someday perhaps, having seen lot of people grow to be successful right in front of me at my hometown. And there was this financial independence that come with being an entrepreneur though that needs a lot of hardwork.”
The College and the Food Science and Nutrition
“The college days ought to be fun and it was even with my subjects – Food Science and Nutrition, I was an interested student if you ask me, for Science was my favourite subject during my school days and so it continued.”
“I used to make masala powders during my college days and sell them at the known canteens in the neighborhood of my hometown. That was quite learning and I surprised myself that they were buying my product and it was going good till the time Some More Foods happened post my marriage.”
“I think being in a business or entrepreneurs comes very natural to the people in this region so I had also ventured into selling clothes under the banner ‘The Wardrobe’ and was pretty successful with exhibitions. Dabbling with another venture of mine was decorations as a business branded ‘Festoons’.”
Mark Twain said the only place where I did not get education was at school/college. Perhaps true, perhaps not. Its for us to change status quo!
First Spoon is Nutritious Baby Food from Some More stable
The entrepreneurship strikes the third time…
This was after she got married and was trying mix of baby foods for her son, the relatives got interested and asked for “Some More”. Yes they wanted a fresh batch of supplies of the mix she has created.
The background of her education came in hand and she dialed her class mates whenever she had some doubts with product development and connected with leading nutritionists so that she could evaluate her idea.
The fact that they were willing to pay for her work was “the eureka moment” for creating this Some More as a brand. That was the moment when she decided to be in business, seriously look at the way it can transform the little children with their health and look at a healthier generation to come.
And what happened to the other two ventures, “Oh I shut them down to concentrate on this after being mentored through AIRSWEE2017” She says as a matter of fact. By the way she was one of the twenty people who were selected to be mentored by AIRSWEE 2017 program which was meant to empower the women entrepreneur.
The business expansion adding more
So When I asked her how she started expanding, she has an interesting answer.
The organic store owner from where she was buying raw materials for her health mix was willing to be her distributor. We do know conspiracy theories but then this was pure business driven stuff and this made her to go fully on business mode.
She continues, “We launched our first product called Complete health mix and few paediatricians started buying baby foods for their hospitals which brought in more customers. This gave me confidence to launch exclusive weaning food called ‘First Spoon’. Our products are now available on Amazon too and we are sending our products to Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra and started getting export enquires as well.”
And getting overseas is a dream and it happened last year for Deepa through her friend who helped and now its being exported to United Kingdom.
First 100 days of the business
How were the first 100 days of your business I ask her.
“It was hectic” she says, “I was handling everything, procurement, production, marketing and sales, and one thing I like was we were catering to the demand in the market and we were profitable from day one.”
She started making fresh batches every week and that made the customer happy. Returning customers make your life better when you make their life great!
5 years later
It’s been 5 years since she started and these days Deepa makes time to talk to young entrepreneurs at colleges and startup forums, shares her ideas and her story so that they can take away the positives.
She says, “Challenges and failures would occur in venture. These should only make us stronger and should prepare us to face any situation. It is very important to take up both failure and success equally with a balanced attitude and we should keep learning from all such experiences and step forward.”
What would be your ideal way to do business I ask her because the food is a sensitive stuff especially for babies, I question.
She says. “For over 5 years we have maintained the quality parameters with global standards and ensured consistency in delivery and that has helped the trust in the brand to grow to this level. That’s very important for me.”
“One thing about our products is being organic, we can do numerous experiments in the kitchen to come up with best formulae for baby foods and they are given to babies of our friends and relatives.”
Thats the senior turned Nutritionist at Some More Food!
“We also have nutritionists in the team to assist us in formulation and standardising of our product. Parents have this habit of trusting foods recommended by pediatricians and we started approaching pediatricians for recommendations and having educational background in nutrition has always made my marketing easier while meeting doctors. Based on the positive feedback from mothers, pediatricians continue to recommend our products on regular basis.”
All over the regions that get Some More, there has been such a positive and appreciative response from customers who are largely regular ones. The ‘Complete Health Mix’ was a very fast selling product other than ‘First Spoon’ Baby Food. These are surely trustworthy in quality and are recommended at our stores to the customers. The ideal balance of price and quality was found in the products where the customer finds them affordable. I feel they function well as a company as even the logistics and admin work for payments is all hassle-free. They have ensured that the packaging is also made neatly without causing any hindrance during transportation.
Santhosh, Babee World
How was the family support, I ask.
“It was tough initially since they thought I need not be doing this as my husband was running a successful business. It took me 4 years to gain their confidence and today they support me in all my work and take care of my son.”
“Though I had some of my friends who helped me in my early days they are not with me now, I had Dr Esther Satyaraj helping me for over two years with my venture, formulating the First production.”
“One of my seniors at college Ms Kousalya helped me with First Spoon the new product for kids, she did the product and content as well. I do have a junior working with me now, it’s a kind of great that you can dial in any of your friends for help for their inputs. I feel so thankful and grateful to them because they help me get updated in our field.”
“I should also thank Jey Anand for his branding designs which really enhanced the brand and we are looking to do better overseas.”
On the future plans
Deepa says they started with baby foods and have now expanded to millet based value added products like noodles, sevai.
She added, “We have few more products in the pipeline and working to launch products for adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and elderly people. Traditional foods in India are store house of nutrients and our traditional recipes have been thoughtfully formulated. We work to reinstate our glorious traditional foods substantiated with nutrition science and bring it back to present food culture and promote eco-friendly wholesome organic nutrition.”
Atta with Multigrain from Some More Foods
She also feels that there is a great increase in awareness of such products among young mothers and there is a huge market potential for millet based value added products. They should be encouraged and such products are the need of the hour to lead a healthy lifestyle and to build a healthier nation.’
The organic revolution has started and Deepa has added Some More traction to it.