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Paper Boat On A Smooth, Steady Sail
E-commerce and modern trade channels are promising to disrupt the distribution moat created by incumbent companies
Photo Credit : Deepak G. Pawar
Decades ago, traditional beverages and foods formed an integral part of people’s diet. As years passed by, many of the food items like the aam panna, jaljeera, kokum, jamun, kala khatta, etc., slowly started disappearing from people’s lives. This encouraged Neeraj Biyani to launch Paper Boat to save traditional recipes in beverages and foods. Biyani who is the co-founder of
Hector Beverages and owner of the brand Paper Boat believes the journey has just begun and he has a long way to go.
Born out of an idea while having lunch, Paper Boat has now become India’s fastest growing consumer brand. The company currently employs over 530 people and distributes their products in over 50,000 outlets and exports to over 10 countries.
Biyani has played an important role in making a difference to company’s fortune by pivoting the model thrice. He led from the front to pivot product idea to traditional beverages and foods and launched brand Paper Boat in 2013. It was his pivoting the distribution model of the company that helped in significantly scaling their distribution in a short span of time. Additionally, Biyani also led many process improvements in manufacturing that have added to the taste, food safety and distinct identity for our products and also led many cost initiatives in the company, leading to a significant increase in gross margins.
Through his work, he ensures that their products positively influence the health and nutrition of society. The company has been able to give their farmers better livelihoods and have launched fair trade-certified products. “For us, the larger purpose is to preserve traditional recipes, the methods that go into making them, and the folklore that surrounds them,” says Biyani.
It was the positive response that the brand received from the consumers within the six months of their launch that made Biyani realise that the idea was very relevant. Furthermore, he also mentions that with the rising per capita income, their business is also undergoing a huge positive shift. He has three reasons to support this argument. “First, a large part of our consumer base is willing to pay for convenience; second, with a robust economy and booming opportunity, the Indian consumer is confident of themselves. They are comfortable to experiment with newer brands; and third, consumers today value health more than they did in the past and are actively seeking a healthier lifestyle by moving to products with a positive health quotient,” says Biyani.
“With growing aspiration and consumer awareness I see a seminal shift in buying behaviour. E-commerce and modern trade channels are promising to disrupt the distribution moat created by incumbent companies. A relevant brand can aspire a much faster adoption today than it could ever before,” he explains.
Paper Boat uses technology to aid in distribution and innovation. The company has innovated much more than any other company in the industry, from product innovation point of view.“At Paper Boat, we are partnering with large e-commerce companies to ensure our products are available to our discerning consumers just a click away. We also use technology in a unique way to take large scale feedback from our consumers that feed into our innovation pipeline and recipe improvements” he added.
N. R. Narayana Murthy is my inspiration, says Biyani, who has received several national awards for being the best startup, for being among the country’s best disruptors, for having the best brand campaign, for outstanding performance and enterprise in Manufacturing and Food Safety, for exemplary packaging design in F&B, among other accolades. For the young entrepreneurs he has only one advice to give: It is easier to live with failures than to live with regrets.