If India can import dark chocolate why can’t we sell imli candy abroad says this startup founder

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If India can import dark chocolate why can’t we sell imli candy abroad says this startup founder
Go DESi
  • The brother-sister duo of Vinay and Raksha Kothari set up their small candy startup in 2018 and started delivering the stock to retail stores and opening micro units in nearby villages.
  • It recently won a $20,000 equity-free grant and $100,000 AWS Credits in Amazon’s startup accelerator programme.
  • The digital startup claims to generate ₹2.5 crore revenue per month and plans to become a ₹500 crore company within the next five years.
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Back in January 2018, Bengaluru-based Vinay Kothari was trekking in the mountains of the Western Ghats, when he stumbled upon a local vendor who was selling unique scrumptious candy bars made out of jackfruits. The candy bars were made by a local cooperative, which are very popular in that particular area.

Startled by the unique taste of the candy bar, Kothari had his ‘eureka’ moment and GO DEsi was born. After the trek, he set up a stall with his sister Raksha Kothari at a flea market for selling local produce sourced from all over North Karnataka.

Their products received a tremendous response as they got sold out in just one and a half days in a stall booked for three days. The brother-sister duo set up their small candy startup in 2018 and started delivering the stock to retail stores and opening micro units in nearby villages.

Mints and meetha


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Now, it has turned into a digital ecommerce brand that sells candies, mints and meetha. In 2019, GO DEsi’s candy bar — Desi PopZ became the fastest selling confectionery item on Amazon. Apart from its tamarind and jaggery (imli) candy, it now sells fruit snacks, lollipops and sour candies.

GO DESi has the capacity to produce over one lakh Desi Popz a day with the help of over 70 women. About 95% of the total workforce hired at GO DEsi manufacturing units are women. It also supports six small women entrepreneurs and has generated 117 jobs and ₹1.24 crore for rural India.

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It has created its marketspace across various states in India. “Our product sells across the country but the largest domination happens from Telangana, AP, Karnataka, Maharashtra,” Kothari said.

The digital startup claims to generate ₹2.5 crore revenue per month currently. It aims to become a ₹500 crore company within the next five years, Kothari said.

Since Indians love to grab a sweet after a meal, it has a huge potential market for confectionery food items like candies. The candy market in India was valued at $1.6 billion in FY20 and is projected to grow to $3.7 billion by FY26.

GO DESi goes global


However, it intends to take these unique Indian tastes abroad. It recently won a $20,000 equity-free grant and $100,000 AWS Credits in Amazon’s startup accelerator programme after undergoing a month-long mentorship. GO DESi plans to use this grant to expand its presence in global markets.

“We want to go global because, apart from having a huge Indian diaspora abroad, the West is also curious and interested in desi flavours from India. If dark chocolates can be imported from abroad to India, why can’t our desi flavours go abroad?” Kothari said.

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The startup will target the candy markets of the UK, west Asia and the US, he added.

To create India’s most-loved FMCG brand


GO DEsi claims that its brand is 100% traditional and natural. The candies are made out of fruits and use jaggery instead of refined sugar. The brand offers a wide variety of sweets from Desi Popz to Desi Meetha and mints in different flavours like tangy pineapple, spicy lemon, amla bytes and more.

“We ship close to 250 orders on a daily basis and have gained over 1.5 lakh customers yearly. We are aware that Indians have become more health-conscious. Therefore, our products don't have any added refined sugar, preservatives or artificial colour and undergo standardised tests. You get real fruit in these candies,” Kothari told Business Insider India.

The average order value of GO DESi is under ₹500. While brands across India took a hit during the pandemic, Kothari said that GO DEsi saw an uptick in sales.

“Since we have a digital-first approach, we saw a boost in sales during the pandemic as we have a strong supply chain. During the pandemic, people became more health- conscious. But our ultimate vision is to create India’s most-loved FMCG brand manufactured, sourced and branded at the farm gate,” Kothari said.

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