Whether it’s the mind craving for energy after a hard day at work or our body wanting to rejuvenate after a sport, we have been witnessing an increasing demand for health drinks in the recent times. And smoothies have now become one of the popular on-the-go meals that are replacing our traditional breakfast and salads.
Rising health consciousness among consumers, combined with changing lifestyle and food habits and an increasing demand for convenience are driving the smoothie market growth in India.
Making a mark in this segment is Mumbai-based Shake It that is bringing healthy smoothies with zero preservatives to your doorstep. The foodtech startup was founded by Karishma Kriplani in 2020.“Shake It’s promise is that our smoothies are genuinely healthy, with no added sugar and preservatives. What you see is what you get,” says Karishma.
As people are becoming more health conscious, many consumers want to know what they are consuming. The more labels we read and the more research we conduct, we realise that most products are not what they say or advertise to be.
Snapshot of ShakeIT
The founding story
A fitness enthusiast, Karishma graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles with a major in business and a minor in Theatre. After graduation, she worked in the Venture Capital space in LA, and later at a fund in Mumbai, and she even pursued a short stint trading currencies in Singapore.
She says she always had a fitness regime - be it dancing or working out, and a good smoothie after her workout became a staple during her stay in LA and Singapore. But every time she visited Mumbai, she couldn’t find a good protein smoothie anywhere, and even the ones she tried didn’t taste good or match up to the standard that she was looking for. The products were also overpriced.
“I found myself really missing my favourite healthy snack,” says Karishma.
When the pandemic spread last year, Singapore was one of the earliest places to get affected, and at the time Karishma decided to return home to be with her family. With both her parents being entrepreneurs, she took her entrepreneurial plunge and started Shake It in August 2020.
Karishma started her research about the smoothie market in India and roped in her friend Dr Juhi Agarwal, a physician and clinical nutritionist, to be part of the team, and they started building the business together. The startup has only three members at present.
The product and competition
Keeping taste and health in mind, the duo has curated a diverse menu with an array of flavors that include low-carb, vegan-friendly, and lactose-free options, so there is something for everyone. They have also managed a blend of vitamins and minerals to make smoothies more nutritious.
According to Karishma, the smoothies are designed in such a way that they are guaranteed to satisfy hunger and eliminate the need for unnecessary snacking between meals.
The startup uses ingredients like Collagen and Spirulina that are difficult to incorporate into a person's diet on a daily basis. It also uses flax seeds, chia, and hemp that are rich in fibre and minerals like zinc and magnesium.
Shake It uses nut butters for flavouring that serve as unsaturated fats or good fats and nutritional superfoods like cacao over the more commonly known unhealthier variant cocoa."We steered clear from any controversial supplements like creatine and BCAA’s because we only wanted to follow evidence-based nutrition cutting all fads. Unlike most short-lived dietary trends, with our abundance of flavour, nutrition, and allergen-free options, we aim to make smoothies a regular snack in your daily diet,” says Karishma.
Karishma says the startup has limited competition. It is competing with the likes of Bengaluru-based ZagoLife that makes protein shakes. It also competes with the unorganised restaurant industry and brands like Frozen Bottle and Rebel Foods. However, no other brand offers preservative free shake, she says.
“Most companies offer products that contain a ton of preservatives to have a long shelf life, and therefore are not fresh like our smoothies. Also most brands contain artificial sweeteners, added flavours, and have limited flavour, allergen options, thus being unable to meet everyone's varying taste and nutritional preferences,” says Karishma.
In the next eighteen months, the startup plans to expand to cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, and Pune. It currently has operations only in Mumbai.
The market and business
Nearly 68 percent of Indians have a lower protein intake, 73 percent of urban rich Indians are protein deficient, and 93 percent are unaware about their protein requirements. Globally, protein consumption is on the rise, averaging at 68 gm per person per day, while India has the lowest average protein consumption of only 47 gm per person per day, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
With India having the highest number of vegetarians in the world, there is an increasing need for people to find other ways to get the adequate amount of protein they require. Karishma hopes Shake It smoothies will provide the requisite protein.
The startup offers a subscription product apart from selling on Swiggy and Thrive. The subscription costs between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 a month, depending on the frequency of the orders.“We are not currently doing direct deliveries through our website, but we do exclusively offer our subscription plan through the website, which has great discount rates,” says Karishma.
She adds: “The B2B players in this market sell ready-made mixes to restaurants and food courts, and since they need to have extremely long shelf lives, they contain several preservatives and our research shows that most of them aren’t even as healthy as they claim to be.”
Karishma has invested around Rs 25 lakh in the business and is looking to raise a seed round. The startup makes revenue from the margin it gets on each smoothie.
Juhi and Karishma
The startup believes getting sustainable packaging has been its only challenge.“Finding sustainable packaging was honestly our largest struggle. Everyone knows that China is the king of sustainable packaging, and sourcing from China is difficult,” says Karishma.
India has very few options and very few sustainable companies working in the space. And those that manufacture the products refuse to sell in small quantities. However, the startup finally found sustainable packaging partners like Cupable and The Mend.
The startup now hopes to build a loyal customer base in Mumbai this year before expanding to other cities in the next eighteen months. Until then, Karishma hopes Mumbai will take to healthy living and lifestyle.
Edited by Megha Reddy