IITian Quits His Job To Grow to be A Millet Entrepreneur; Earns Rs 2.5 Crore


A typical matter of debate in my home at any time when one among us falls sick revolves round our unhealthy diets. The dialog tends to escalate with my mom passionately emphasising how diets previously have been enriched with superfoods like jowar, bajra, and ragi.

True sufficient, millets are actually being recognised as superfoods worldwide. In 2023, the Indian authorities designated it because the “12 months of Millets” to underscore their quite a few advantages.

Nonetheless, a problem arises because of the restricted availability of devoted shops providing a wide range of millets. “In our fast-paced world, what most of us want is ready-to-use recipes, and never many producers provide a variety of millet choices. Recognising this hole, I based my very own millet startup,” says Sai Krishna Popuri, the founding father of Well being Sutra, as shared with The Higher India.

Sai, the entrepreneur behind a millet-based model, gives a various vary of millet merchandise by his startup. From Jowar Flakes to Millet Muesli and Millet Idli Rawa pre-mix, the model goals to seamlessly combine this superfood into your each day food plan. With hundreds of merchandise offered, the model has achieved a formidable annual income of Rs 2.5 crores.

‘For a wholesome and lengthy life’ 

After finishing his engineering from the Indian Institute of Expertise in Delhi, Sai determined to take a company job within the schooling sector. 

“Whereas I used to be working a job, I needed to get into ventureship. I had all the time dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I used to be solely ready for the appropriate thought to come back alongside for me to take the leap,” he shares. 

Sai remembers that whereas he was in faculty, he needed to arrange his personal enterprise and had a few concepts too. “Whereas there have been a variety of concepts, I needed to do one thing that stood out and was benefitting the society too,” he says. 

Sai quit his job to start a millet-based startup called Health Sutra.
Sai stop his job to begin a millet-based startup known as Well being Sutra. Image credit score: Well being Sutra

Meals startups have all the time been an space of curiosity for Sai. “Meals tech has all the time been fascinating to me. Earlier than Well being Sutra, I used to be engaged on an Indo-Chinese language startup in Hyderabad,” he says. 

“Across the identical time, my father was recognized with diabetes. The physician beneficial varied alternate options equivalent to wheat, oats, or quinoa for his food plan. I couldn’t assist however marvel – oats are wonderful, however quinoa is imported from South America. Why go for one thing from midway internationally when we have now equally good choices proper right here?” he provides. 

Wanting to search out alternate options in India, he went in search of choices. He met a relative who labored within the meals science division at a college in Andhra Pradesh. “She was passionately discussing millets and the way they’re poised to change into the following large factor. Millets, being deeply rooted in our land, boast indigenous qualities, robustness, and drought resistance, making them a extremely helpful alternative,” he says. 

On additional analysis, Sai realised the explanation why the superfood was not as common as others. 

“The processing know-how for wheat, rice, and corn has superior considerably. Nonetheless, the identical can’t be stated for millets. The restricted progress in milling and additional processing of millets creates a state of affairs the place presenting millets to customers in a contemporary context, or providing them a recent perspective on their conventional meals and roots, turns into difficult,” he says. 

To vary the perspective in direction of millet and to make it extra simply accessible to customers, Sai began his analysis and improvement in 2013. 

“Our grandmas have been proper to ask us to incorporate millets in our diets as they’re historically thought-about to be wholesome,” he says.

By 2014, he was prepared together with his first product. “We launched jowar porridge below our model Well being Sutra and it received an excellent response,” he remembers. 

Since its launch, the corporate has skilled important progress, introducing a various vary of merchandise. These embody cereal flakes equivalent to Jowar Flakes, Ragi Flakes, and Barley Flakes, in addition to seven various kinds of rava for idli and upma, and biscuits constituted of ragi and jowar.

Making millets accessible to all

The model has buyer base in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Recalling individuals’s preliminary response, Sai says, “Throughout that point, my objective was to supply a substitute for masala oats. The response was optimistic, particularly from those that tried it a couple of times – they loved the style. Phrase unfold and extra individuals started to provide it a strive.” 

He provides, “Curiously, even at present, corporations like Soulful and probably now Slurp Farm, no main participant has emerged on this area. Because of this, individuals nonetheless don’t have many choices to discover.”

The model now boasts an annual income of two.5 crores and has a staff of 9 individuals.

Whereas these numbers sign success, Sai emphasised the persistence required to achieve this level. “It’s been a sluggish burn for us; the trade remains to be nascent, and individuals are solely now starting to open up. Again in 2013, once I began my analysis, there have been no avenues accessible. Institutes devoted to this trigger have been scarce, and the know-how to do easy issues like making uttapam from jowar was not readily accessible,” he explains.

“Nonetheless,” he continues, “Occasions have modified considerably since then. Now, we have now devoted institutes for analysis, and extra people are investing in millet-based startups.”

The worldwide 12 months initiative for millets final 12 months has undoubtedly made a optimistic affect. 

“Nonetheless, I imagine it’s nonetheless within the consciousness stage moderately than some extent the place a behavior has been totally fashioned. Individuals are making an attempt, and experimenting, however it hasn’t change into a each day behavior like consuming rice or chapati. That, I imagine, will take some extra time,” he says. 

The merchandise by Well being Sutra are at the moment accessible in shut to three,000 supermarkets in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In addition they ship them country-wide by way of Amazon.

Sai is planning on entering the kids' market by making millet more digestible, palatable, and accessible.
Sai is planning on coming into the youngsters’ market by making millet extra digestible, palatable, and accessible. Image credit score: Well being Sutra

It had been some time since P Lalitha discovered the advantages of millet however was in search of concepts to include it into her child’s food plan. “I’ve been utilizing Well being Sutra’s Millet Idly Rawa for years now, it tastes so good that my children like to eat idli. I usually make sweets with this rawa. I all the time choose to have my children with zero maida snacks and the Well being Sutra biscuits turn out to be useful,” she says. 

The merchandise are nice and wholesome. They’ve zero components and sugar which makes them her go-to alternative. 

As for the long run, Sai plans to develop his merchandise to make it extra child-friendly. 

“At present, millet merchandise haven’t made important inroads into the youngsters’ phase, significantly in high-volume children’ meals classes, which is an space we’re eager on exploring additional. Our focus is on making millets extra digestible, palatable, and accessible at a extra handy worth level. Presently, millet merchandise are typically a bit dearer in comparison with their typical counterparts,” he says. 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)