‘Soulfull Was Born Out Of A Dream’
‘This year the shortlist as well as the final winning, was exhilarating for me, and a validation of all that Soulfull is and wants to be’
Rashant Parameswaran is Founder and Managing Director of Kottaram Agro Foods, which has in a span of six years made its presence felt in the breakfast cereals market. Its Soulfull brand already dominates the millet-based cereal segment in India and is poised to explore the overseas market soon.
Kottaram Agro Foods has a toehold in the breakfast cereals market with Muesli, millet-based snacks and millet health drinks. The products are being retailed at 5,000 stores across 12 cities. This year the company plans to scale up its market presence to 20,000 stores and has commenced talks to take the Soulfull brand of cereals to the global market too.
“We believe that just as the quinoa and other super grains have achieved global recognition, millets too will soon be celebrated worldwide for their nutritious value as well as diversity,” says Parameswaran. “As one of the earliest players in this category we believe that Soulfull will have a big role to play in taking millets to the global marketplace,” he adds.
Kottaram Agro Foods has over 100 employees on its rolls and works closely with a host of organisations in the agro sector, generating employment in rural areas as well. “Soulfull was born out of a dream I had many years ago and a vision born when I saw our traditional nutritious history go unrecognised,” says Parameswaran.
Soulfull strives to bring the nutritional power of India’s traditional grains (like ragi and other millets) back to the modern consumer. Parameswaran points out that growing millets requires less water than other grains. “They require very little input to grow and can grow in harsh climates. These millets are not just Super food but Smart food - food that is good for you, good for the farmer and good for the environment,” he says.
In 2012, when Kottaram Agro Foods began operations, Parameswaran delved into consumer data to create a new product category. “Kottaram Agro Foods is an agile new-age firm that believes in the mantra that change is the only constant. With rapid growth since inception and over 20 product lines launched in that period, every year, month, week and day have brought its own set of challenges,” admits Parameswaran. “We work intensely with our food technology team to ensure that we bring leading technologies to these grains,” he says.
The young entrepreneur tells us that he surmounted his hurdles through total dedication and timely implementation of tasks right from the start. “For example establishing a new production centre,” he tells us, “and signing up with a large retailer happened on the same day.” We ask him where he saw himself a decade or even five years hence. Parameswaran’s response was that his perspective was long-term. “Over the next five years we see ourselves increasing our market penetration and building an interesting innovative pipeline across various categories and also taking millets to global markets,” he tells us confidently.
How did it feel to be among the BW 40 under 40 achievers, we ask. “I have been closely following this section, the 40 under 40s, and have been fortunate to be featured in it,” he says. “This year the shortlist as well as the final winning, was exhilarating for me, and a validation of all that Soulfull is and wants to be,” he says.
“BW Businessworld is a responsible media house that has always held its own in these days of questionable media content. The content curated in it is respectful and the analysis in-depth. Most importantly BW is a credible aggregator of relevant content curated at the right time. We are humbled to be a part of such a prestigious line up and are excited about the growth prospects that will come with this announcement,” says Parameswaran.
The Kottaram Agro Foods Founder was inspired by the venerated agro-scientist, M. S. Swaminathan. “He has always been a great supporter of our work, helping us understand the nuances of the agro businesses while encouraging us to think big,” says Parameswaran. “We have been fortunate to have worked with some of the greatest marketing minds in our country,” he says, “people who have spent time and effort on our brand, recognising our vision.”