Where Health Creates Wealth: Anindita Sampath, Co-founder & CEO, Yoga Bars
Challenging established ways of thinking had required “emotional strength and patience."
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Concern for health has assumed the proportions of a fad not just in India, but across the world. Catering to the needs of the health-conscious and supplying them with a healthy diet is as much of a commercial opportunity as a social achievement, which is why Yoga Bar co-founder and CEO, Anindita Sampath, is in BW Businessworld’s 40 under 40 list of achievers.
Yoga Bar comes under the umbrella of Sproutlife Foods, a group founded by Suhasini Sampath and Anindita Sampath. Sproutlife Foods is a Bangalore-based manufacturer of high-quality branded foods for the rapidly growing health foods segment. The group was founded in 2014 and falls within the category of fast-growing consumer foods within the FMCG market. Its first four product lines were snack bars, breakfast bars, muesli and the 20G protein bars. Yoga Bar targets a revenue of Rs 9100 crore, growing its earnings by more than 25 per cent through its range of ‘Good for You’ products.
Anindita Sampath and her sister Suhasini had the idea of a health foods brand while studying and working in the United States, where energy bars were very popular. They thought of bringing the concept back to India. It was, however, not an easy task, as well-entrenched multinational brands were already strong in the Indian market.
So, what created a USP for the Yoga Bars? “The key USP of Yoga Bar is that it does not add corn starch, additives or added vitamins to its products,” says Anindita Sampath, “All the ingredients of Yoga Bars offer health benefits and are completely natural, with no additives or preservatives. This reduces the shelf life of the bars to three months.”
The group envisages growing its manpower strength in the long run, when it is expected to rise to a workforce of a thousand people. “We currently employ about 150 people. We see ourselves creating employment for about 1000 people in five years’ time,” says Sampath. The group has attracted investment from a number of sources. Investors were impressed with the sheer diligence of the two sisters, who have through their continuous efforts, been taking the organisation to new heights.
The company has raised Rs 23 crore from promoters, angel investors and Fireside. Its list of investors is long and includes Devendra Chawla, CEO, Spencer’s Retail, Former COO Walmart, Ashok Dhingra, former CEO at FCL, Van Melle, former director, SAB Miller & Perfetti, General Sales Manager HUL, R. Ramraj, Co-founder, Sify, Advisor, Elevar Equity and angel investor and Lakshmi Narayan, Ex-CEO, Cognizant and angel investor.
The group already serves Yoga Bars to almost a million Indians every month, ‘making India healthier a customer at a time’ in Anindita Sampath’s words. Yoga Bar’s revenue is Rs 50 crore in the current year and growing at almost 100 per cent year-on-year.
Sampath says challenging established ways of thinking and stepping out of their comfort zones to do something different had required “emotional strength, patience, resilience and determination”.
“It was very difficult to explain my choice to a family that still saw the world like the one they were brought up in with many constraints and hence, limited appetite for risk,” says Anindita Sampath, narrating her journey of life.
“The financial risk of starting was also extremely high. As a woman entrepreneur, it was frustrating to answer questions that men wouldn’t have been asked by investors, prospective hires, and even friends and family,” she recalls, adding, “As an entrepreneur it was daunting to create a health food brand in a country that has forever believed that ‘health doesn’t sell’.