AV Organics, a start-up based in Vadodara Gujarat is the first company to make alkaline bottled water this year. The product was launched in Pune, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Surat, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Goa and Bangalore. It will be launched in Mumbai and Chennai this month (December 2019).
How did you come to think of this brand? How does your Entrepreneurial and professional journey look like?
I come from a real estate background. My family business interest lies in real estate, construction, corporate leasing. After I completed my studies in 2011, I joined my family business. This was followed by the formation of my own company named Emerald Developers. Here, I started taking up real estate projects in Vadodara which were mostly commercial in nature.
During the end of 2016, I started reading about alkaline water. For a couple of years, i.e. 2016 to 2018, I continued my research about alkaline water. I was trying to figure out how I could have a longer shelf life for alkaline water and how I could eventually convert it into a business. In February 2018, I created a new company, i.e. AV Organics and registered it as a start-up.
Though, the idea of making alkaline water came in early 2018, it took me a year and a half for setting up the plant and hiring the team. In June 2019 we started our commercial operations.
What is your team size and distribution? Do you plan to venture into other categories as well other than alkaline water?
To start with, I would take you through the background of Evocus. About 2.5 years ago when I was reading about alkaline water and its benefits, I realised that there is a very limited set of companies in India that provide alkaline water. One of the key reasons for this was that the alkalinity of water comes back to neutral in 72 hours. This is why the commercial non viability existed.
As I read more articles about alkaline water, I came across a few articles written by Dr. Norbert Chirase, who is a PhD in Wellness and Nutrition, based in Texas, U.S. He is the founder of these core minerals in the U.S. I quickly got in touch with him and visited him in the U.S. After spending a couple of days with him, I understood how I could use his discovery for creating a product. I got some samples back to India and got in touch with Mr. Awasthi, who is now the technical head of our company. We used those minerals to create a unique formulation to form the black alkaline water which is Evocus.
These minerals are naturally black in colour which gives the black colour to the water. This went on for about 2 years till the time we had a unique formulation to form black alkaline water. We started creating the plant in 2018 and it took about a year to set it up. In 2019 we started our commercial operations.
The chronology was to set up the distribution network, recruit the ground team, and then open the markets. In June 2019, we entered the first market in Pune. Soon, Pune was followed by Chandigarh which was further followed by Delhi, Gurgaon and few other markets.
Do you think people have the awareness about this water? Does it need a doctor’s recommendation to consum? So how are you promoting it?
Evocus is not a technically complex product. It is just the manufacturing of the product that is complex since it is enriched with 70+ minerals and is alkaline in nature. But, essentially it is nutrient water. We call it multifunctional nutrient water. Also, the Food Safety has certified it to be nutrient water and it is available in all the leading general trade supermarkets.
Does someone have to be alkaline deficient to consume it or can anybody consume it?
It is a regular alkaline water. So, one need not be prescribed by a doctor to consume it. It is nutrient water that comes under daily consumable product. Since, it is alkaline, it is anti-acidic in nature. It also helps in better hydration. It hydrates our body faster and keeps us hydrated for a longer period of time. The alkalinity and minerals keep flushing the toxins out of our body and thus, it aids in better detoxification. These are the added benefits of the Evocus water. But, essentially, it remains an alternative to daily consumed water.
Thus, there is no requirement for a prescription. It sits under the wellness category. Our consumers are people who are health/ wellness conscious or are actively looking for healthier alternatives to daily food and beverages.
What is your pricing? What is your average price per package? Also, considering the type of the product this is, do you think it will get accepted in tier 2 & 3 markets. What would be your strategy for tier 2 & 3 markets?
It is not limited to the consumers of metropolitan cities. It is for the people who are health conscious in general. As of now, we have entered 2 Tier 1 cities and 4 metro cities. But, we are available pan India online through Amazon, Snapdeal, PayTm Mall and our own Evocus website. The trend we have seen is that people from tier 2 & 3 cities are also buying the product through our online channel.
Talking about the price point, we have 3 SKUs as of now. One is a 500 ML PET bottle worth Rs. 100, second is the 250 ML PET bottle worth Rs. 60 and third is the 330 ML glass bottle which is worth Rs. 150. It is a niche product. The pricing is done in a certain way because we are extremely conscious about the standard and quality of the products. We are looking at bringing the best quality of water to the people.
Will you be targeting HoReCa segment as a part of your distribution strategy?
We have three primary channels of supply- one is the general trade, modern trade and the standalone super markets which fall under the trade channel; second is the HoReCa channel which is hotel, restaurant and cafes, and third is the ecommerce channel.In the ecommerce channel, we have tied up with Amazon. In HoReCa trade we are looking at tying up with all the top chain hotels and standalone premium restaurants.
Your focus would be on B2B sales or B2C sales?
It is a consumer product. However, we have distributors in territories where our products can reach larger supermarkets, HoReCa and more. We have regional distributors and we are exploring more regional distributors at the same time.
Which all cities do you have your distribution in?
We have distribution across many cities. In Pune, we have one super stockist and three distributors, in Chandigarh, we have one distributor, while there are two distributors in Delhi and Gurgaon each. Mentioning about other cities,there is one super stockist in Hyderabad and 4 distributors under him. In Bangalore, we have one super stockist, 3 distributors and in Goa, we have 1 distributor.
Who have you collaborated for modern trade?
We have listed ourselves with Food Hall, Le Marche, Twenty- Four Seven, In & Out, Needs Supermarket and Modern Bazar. In the south, we are available in Ratnadeep and Niligiris. So, we have covered almost all of the top and premium modern trade outlets.
Have you scouted for any funds as of now?
Till now, I am the seed investor of the company. For any company to grow, capital is crucial. At the right time, we will definitely look at engaging with a venture capitalist or private equity to raise funds.
What kind of investor would be of your interest?
We will be looking at a participating investor who has a background in an FMCG or a consumer goods industry and can help with the expansion of our company.
On an average, how many orders are you receiving on monthly/weekly basis?
As of now, we are available in 1000+ outlets. We have sold around 7000 cases. One case has 24 bottles. We target to sell 25000 cases by March 2020.
Are you looking at any product expansion or would you continue to do what you are doing right now?
We are adding new SKUs in the same product. Moreover, we have an R&D team who is looking at developing new products using the same minerals that we extract from the U.S. So, new products are in pipeline. As soon as we have the prototypes, we will conduct a market research and take the decision on how to penetrate in the market.
We see a lot of variations in the market. How are you assured that your product will be the game changer?
As you mentioned, there are a lot of players entering the market. This, itself signifies an important health revolution that is going on in the country. People are becoming more aware about their choices of daily food and beverages. Anything that we roll out, which is associated with the health and wellness segment, is going to attract consumers who are health conscious.
Talking about how Evocus is different from the other products in the similar category-it is black water, alkaline and is 100% natural. It is anti-acidic in nature. So, one does not require pharmaceutical cures for acidity problems. It also enhances hydration by hydrating one faster and keeping one hydrated for a longer period of time.
In today’s times, all the foods and beverages are laden with pesticides and toxins which enter our bodies on consumption. Evocus helps in better detoxification. Owing to its minerals and alkalinity, it flushes out the toxins from the body. This further helps in digestion and boosting metabolism.
Do you want to add anything to this?
From March 2020 to March 2021, we plan to be available in 100 markets. We are currently present in 18 markets.