FOODRIK – On A Mission To Serve Kids Tasty Nutrition

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Today, Marg News brings to you a story of an entrepreneur who is a doting father, an economist, a great writer, and a firm believer of Ikigai, Mr. Mayank Sinha.

He loves to spend time with his children and is on a mission to make great products for children. Mayank recently has come up with his new product named, FOODRIK Choco Nutri bar. The product is specially designed for children and is a perfect blend of taste and nutrition. 

“Nutritious & convenient products that parents trust and children love”.

How did you get the idea of ‘FOODRIK’?

He says that Foodrik is not just a nutrition bar company, it is trying to develop a whole range of products. According to him, most entrepreneurs start a venture because they see a gap in the market or want to solve a problem. He came up with the idea to solve the challenge parents face while choosing the right products for their children which are both tasty and nutritious. 

When he was working in the pharmaceutical industry, he visited many different countries and companies as part of his job. There he realized many products were in the market, that use traditional ingredients, packing them in a really smart format, and making them into products that people consume. 

“So that’s where the whole focus was that India has got so many great Superfoods, traditional food. Is there a way we can do it? And then I decided to head back to India, I was working in Delhi and I think we all know that Delhi has had this whole case of pollution and people are much more concerned about it. I had my own children. And like any other parent, you become concerned about it, sensitive about it.“

“That’s where the whole, I would say idea started to germinate, Can we do something about making junk food healthier. Because kids eat a lot of junk food. It was something close to my heart too as I am really fond of food and ingredients.” 

Mayank says soon the concept took shape, “ Can we build a company, which is focusing on tasty nutrition and picking up Indian traditional health foods  and developing them  into smart formats.“

“So, yeah, that’s where we are. We launched this first product of ours, which is a Sattu, Almond, Oats product wrapped in tasty chocolate.” And (with fingers crossed) he is hoping that children would like it. He also shared incidents where parents have come back and said, ‘I’m happy. You’ve not made it that sweet. You put a little less chocolate, but kids are still liking it.’

Smilingly says, “So the journey has started on a positive note.” 

What were the challenges you faced while setting it up?

“I think there are lots of challenges. I would say the first challenge is transitioning from working to entrepreneurship. If you’re not coming from a business family, even if you were the CEO of a company when you start, you’re starting on your own, that is one.” 

Two is that I think Covid has had a major impact on everyone and many businesses were hit hard, in entrepreneurship we only hear the positive stories. So, I think that has been a challenge,”

According to him, learning the game of doing business takes its own time, he says, “It takes a long time to learn the whole nuance of business, which is so many things like hiring people, financing, funding, GST, building a team, launching a product. You have so many vendors, some may be professionals,  some may be unprofessional.”

“So in a nutshell, when you’re working in a job, you have a team or you’re doing one thing in a large setup; here you are doing everything. So I think there will be day-to-day challenges. Once the mindset changes, you become an entrepreneur where a  see a challenge as actually an opportunity.” 

“So if tomorrow, someone comes in and says that this product of yours is not working. In a job, you’d say, Oh no! That means I’m going to lose my job. I won’t get my bonus, but maybe if you’re a businessman, you say, never mind, this is giving you me an opportunity to develop something new, find a solution and maybe that will be a success.” 

Entrepreneurship is not everyone’s cup of tea, he says, “I think it’s the correct mindset and attitude. And, I am not a big fan of this whole thing that entrepreneurship is the greatest thing in the world, and everyone should be an entrepreneur. I think it’s a great thing because you create a livelihood. You are the master of your own destiny, but it’s not for everyone.” 

Talking about the qualities an entrepreneur needs, Mayank says, “Only those who have the capability of withstanding a lot of pressure, of going through the ups and downs, losing income, taking a lot of work-load, and being patient before it scales up, really it’s for them.” 

How long was the journey and tell us about your initial phase?

“It’s about two and a half years. When we initially started Foodrik, the whole philosophy was that we want to solve a problem by information, advice, and content; which is that kids are eating unhealthy food. People are not aware of a lot of traditional food, the health benefits. So we had a portal that had nutritionists, ayurvedic doctors, experts from India and abroad, and we had a lot of content. We used to do workshops at schools, preschools, and we were building a community of parents who would then engage with us, understand what is the right way of nutrition, eating, and take some of our services. And eventually, we wanted to launch our own brands also.”

“A lot of them came back and said that it’s good to give us advice. But I wish you had a product which we could give our kids. And then, as I said, sometimes opportunities emerge from adversities. Covid happened, and like most businesses, we were also impacted.”

“Schools shut down and we realized that our original business model may require modifications. So it actually made us move quickly to the product’s phase which we were only thinking about. And we use the Covid phase to plan, strategize, execute. And here we are having just launched this product.“

“ There is the thing about the 1000 day rule. I don’t believe in rules, but it takes, for, anything between two to three years to establish yourself into a business, and then does the real journey starts. I think a business is a long-term journey. What you hear in terms of media, unicorns, and funding. Those are maybe 1% of the space in general, it’s actually a long, hard drive. But if you are focused and if you know what your steps are… you take the right risks,”

What were the challenges you faced on the Personal front?

I would say, for me…it’s a mixed bag. So when you are working in a job, you might be doing nine to seven, you’ll be traveling. I used to travel a lot and had hectic work hours. hen you become an entrepreneur, you’re basically working 24/7, but on your own terms!!”

About freedom that comes with entrepreneurship, he says, “You’re now working without someone telling you ‘You need to work’. So if tomorrow I don’t want to work from ten to twelve, I will not work unless it is required. But then maybe in the night, I’ll work from twelve to four. So what happens is that an  entrepreneur is always on,  But  can always turn-off when required.”

Talking about spending time with his children, he continues, (excitingly)“For me, with my young boys, I’ve got two young boys and I like spending time with them. We like doing a lot of outdoor stuff, so it’s great for them because now Daddy is in and out all the time. So if tomorrow they say you need to play cricket with me. I can play cricket for half an hour. I don’t have a boss telling me that ‘don’t do it .’ But they also appreciate now that their father is working much harder than he did earlier. I get up at five in the morning and I start working and sometimes I work till eight, nine in the night. Sometimes I don’t. If I’m tired, I think it’s a personal choice with work needs balanced. 

On starting up a business a bit late in terms of age and financial backup, he says “I think when you’re a little older, let’s say, like me, having worked for 10-15 years, there will obviously be a loss of income initially, but there will be a buffer of savings.. In addition, if you have a spouse r who is supportive, who is earning, who understands the journey, then I think that is very important. If your family is supportive, only then can you be an entrepreneur because you always have someone saying, ‘Why are you taking the risk.”

About insecurities, he speaks, “But personally, it’s very difficult because you have to self-motivate. There will be days when you will think… is it all worth it? You’ll feel that your colleagues and your peers and your friends are working… are now in much more senior positions… So I think you have to mentally align yourself. You have to be very strong. Obviously, the world only sees success tomorrow. If you’re a successful businessman, all your friends will say, I wish I had done it. If you’re unsuccessful, they will say, see I told you, why did you take a risk and now you ruined your career.”

Further talking about the challenges, he says ”So, I think you just have to be patient. And… one thing which I’ve learned from COVID is that… you could get it at any point of time. And then, maybe in two weeks, you are not there anymore. So why bother and over plan and get so stressed about things in life? I think… enjoy the moment, plan about things, but don’t worry all the time, above all be patient. So I think I have learned to be patient. And I have realized that if you’re patient, if you are surrounded yourself with good people, by good advisors, you build a good team. Most likely, problems will resolve on their own and you continue to move forward.”

What were the reactions of your family members when you told them that, ‘I want to do a business?

“For me. It’s very interesting because my parents were very supportive because I think they always thought that if you have got great ideas, you should do it. And as I said, everyone has a journey. So if you start a business. Let’s say after working for  3-5 years you obviously have not built up an enough corpus to kind of maybe manage for the next 2 to 3 years.”

“If you are, let’s say, in your late fifties… maybe your kids are going to college. So there might be a huge expense coming up. Can you take that risk? So, I think it’s all about timing, and it is linked to your personal circumstances. If you time it well, whatever is your personal circumstances and you know you have a buffer financially, and if you believe in yourself, go for it. “And two, I think if people believe in your passion and drive, it will happen, and as I said it’s a very tough journey so your family has to be aligned.”

“They need to realize that there is a huge probability that things may not work out. But, for me, it’s not been a struggle. I think, It has been a transition.. it just felt the right thing to do and everyone supported me in my ups and downs.”

So now, when it is executed, How is it going?

Talking about an incident, he says, “When I was at the plant where our product is manufactured. I remember the plant head telling me, ‘Mayank, your product is now manufactured. It’s like a baby is born but don’t get too excited because now you’ve got to nurture the baby and let it grow into a successful independent business.’ So I think in any venture…there’s the idea phase – When one feels very very excited about the idea phase because you’re finally doing something that you always wanted to. And then it is the pre-launch execution phase, where you’re trying to translate that idea into something concrete. And that will be very difficult. I mean if you talk to successful entrepreneurs many may come back and say we cannot do it all over again because it’s a very difficult phase.”

“And then there’s the launch phase, again there will be a lot of excitement. See my ideas coming to the market and then like any business, career, and even life, you then have to nurture that, you have to grow it and take it forward. So, it’s just started for us… we have just launched the product.”

Why Foodrik? Please tell us about the name ‘Foodrik’.

He believes that “the more you get into entrepreneurship…you start following your intuition…intuition is something which is coming from inside…I think the direction of the company, the philosophy, the name…it all comes from the founder or from an intuition,”

“Foodrik is very simple. I was very clear, we wanted to be in food and drink. So if you add food and drink and take out the ‘N’, it becomes Foodrik.”

“So if you explain it to someone, they get ‘Oh Yeah, it’s Food and drink… but it’s not so obvious that they know it’s food and drink. So that’s the reason… anyways a name is a name I think what you make of the name is more important.” 

On being asked about his other passion and what he likes other than doing business, he clearly says (with all smiles) that he likes spending time with his children and cooking.

We also got to know that Mayank is a writer and has penned down two books for children. Telling a story of how he got into writing. He recalls an incident of the Covid phase, “One day my son was narrating an incident to his grandmother and my mother turned to me and said ‘Why aren’t you writing it. It’s such a nice story.’ And then I started writing, and I discovered a flair for writing. I have already written 2 children’s books.“

A firm believer of ‘Ikigai’, Mayank gives some examples of creative works that can be done by hand such as knitting, cooking, gardening, pottery, etc, as these days we are only doing mind work He calls himself a creative person and says, “I think I’m a creative person. For me, creativity doesn’t mean that I want to be a great painter, but I want to try to do something new. Because I think maybe an entrepreneur is also a creative person, they are always thinking of a new idea.”

Any message for young entrepreneurs?

“You need to have the passion. You should also plan that if it does not work for you have the right backing to come back. For 2-3 years, be patient. You may have all of it but in the end, entrepreneurship is about a successful business. so you should always remember that… The right metrics need to be in place so that you run a successful business.”

“I am a big follower of being honest and being ethical, I think you start with that..you will build the right team and in the long term, you will succeed. There’s no shortcut to anything in life.”

“You can see this everywhere, relationship with your parents, relationship with your friends, you have to invest in it. It doesn’t happen in six months.  And entrepreneurship is a long-term journey. So only when you are aligned and you are ready to take the risk and you are ready to accept the failures that come your way… only then you should do it…”

Watch his interview video here:

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