Meet the SHEROES - Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan, Slurrpfarm.
SHEROES in conversation with Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik, Co-founders, Slurrp Farm.
Shauravi holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Cambridge University and a bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Stephen's College in Delhi University. Prior to starting Slurrp Farm, Shauravi has worked in the Consumer, Healthcare, and Retail Advisory team at J.P. Morgan in London, and at Sir Richard Branson’s group holding company in London for one decade.
Meghana was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company in London and then New Delhi, where she started the Public Health practice. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Computation as a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University. She was also on the Indian national swimming team and it is her personal goal to up the nutrition table for Indian kids.
They tell SHEROES about starting up and more here -
Tell us a little about yourselves and what was your journey like?
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.
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 realised there was very little demand for it. It would be something we could not scale beyond the affluent Indian parent in the near future.
So, we went back to the drawing board and did a tonne of market research, a lot of product R&D, a lot of thinking and decided to follow our heart. We realised 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.
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 1000 stores across 15 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 April 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 learnt 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 the majority of our time doing; we are both very persistent.
More than Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, we have really learnt 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. Not to mention moms and babies and yummy food all along the way! The list is endless. And THIS journey crisscrossing so many parts of India - villages, towns and large cities - and the food industry has been what has truly shaped our vision for Slurrp Farm.”
What were the major challenges of building a health platform for children and how did you overcome it?
Shauravi – “Both Meghana and I have been on the back-end, advising clients (McKinsey & JP Morgan, respectively) on how to run their companies and get funding, prior to starting Slurrp Farm. However, once we started our company, we realised that execution is the biggest challenge. It literally means going down to the brass tacks and building from Ground Zero. It is all about remaining patient. Another key challenge has been the sheer difficulty of making something you would in your own kitchen, work from a commercial and process perspective on a larger scale. It’s hard to fix our badly broken food system, but innovation lies in simplifying.”
It's all about learning new things, stepping into a new domain and working our way up. Almost like having ten different jobs at the same time. First, we had to learn about translating products from our kitchens to a manufacturing point of view. Once the products were set, we had to move onto learning retail sales, marketing, logistics, etc. We have recently added digital marketing, embracing technology in all aspects of our business to the list - the learning never stops!
Looking back, our biggest challenge has been to find a way to make what tastes delicious in a home kitchen, taste 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”…
What are the future plans?
Meghana – “Today, we are in 1000 major retail stores and school canteens in India, the UAE, and Singapore. We are also available on all major eCommerce platforms.
The company’s vision is to take Indian millets to the world and to also set up manufacturing capabilities using locally sourced millets in different geographies (we are hoping to enter two offshore markets this year and to foray into new markets such as Europe and the US by 2025). Our current product portfolio includes 20 products. In the pipeline: We will be launching our all-new and super healthy product line for adults with which we will expand our target group.”
A message for all the SHEROES out there.
Meghana – “Shauravi was 7 months pregnant when we started the fundraising process. What was heartening to see was that all the conversations were focussed on what we were building at Slurrp Farm. Shauravi’s priority was to get Slurrp Farm as far as possible before her baby arrived and pick up right where she left off soon after (her thankfully healthy baby arrived). She has always been in mission mode to change the way the kids are eating, and our sharp investors saw in her a person who would do what it takes to make the Slurrp Farm a large global company.
The message that we’d like to give to SHEROES out there is that if you have set your heart on something, you want it very much or want to do it very much, it will happen. All you gotta do is stay focused and never allow anyone to put you down. Stay confident and believe in yourself. You are on the right track.”