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Enterpreneur Aditi Gokhale Firmly Believes In Revisiting, And Embracing Organic Food!

Posted: September 28, 2016
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As a young mother, Aditi Gokhale realized the value of fresh, organic food, and began her own venture, All Things Organic, that deals in this.

There was a time when people could just pluck apples from the apple tree, dust them a little bit and eat them fresh. During childhood, mangoes were purchased in bulk and, were allowed to ripen naturally.

However, the world is moving at a fast pace now. Everything is demanded quickly. No wonder, fruits are injected with chemicals to accelerate ripening. There is not a vegetable in the market that has not been sprayed with pesticide. And water is spent recklessly to wash the chemicals off from fruits and veggies with little knowledge of whether they are good to eat.

So, while we live in a world where we are eating foods that probably contain more pesticides than vitamins, Aditi Gokhale, an IIM B (2007 alumini) decided to challenge the pesticide driven produce with her venture – All Things Organic.

A dormant dream caught wings and, how!

Having been a part of top management teams in leading companies in myriad sectors, Aditi has worked relentlessly in conceptualising and operationalizing business strategies. She mentions how she passively toyed with thoughts of entrepreneurship while supporting her team with strategic problem solving. However, the passive phase of dormancy caught pace when Aditi finally took the plunge into the fresh produce business of Mahyco.

With a passion for dabbling in new healthy cuisines that came along with being a young mother, Aditi followed her dream by taking her first baby steps into the world of fresh produce by scaling up the trade business of Mahyco across Europe, for four years. Her efforts steered the business into profitability that rooted from a strong customer base ensuring a long term visibility of business.

But, the major calling came through when her interaction with Gunjan Soni (CMO, Myntra) gave wings to her passion to begin an endeavour in the world of organic foods.

She recalls her moment of epiphany – “It was only last year, during my interactions with Gunjan Soni, that I really got thinking about starting off something in the organic foods space. My passion for the organic space comes from my exposure to the high quality standards of fresh produce in the developed world. Also, being a mother of a young child, I do understand the need for safe food first-hand. Gunjan personally is an avid consumer of organic food. Gunjan, Aman Singal (co-founder) and I believe in the immense latent demand for organic food in India today. Gunjan has invested in our business and is an advisor to the All Things Organic team.”

Having worked in the industry as a part of Mahyco’s, her exposure to high quality fresh produce was enormous. So, with her versatile experience, unbridled passion and, with a trusting co-founder Aman Singal, Aditi Gokhale embarked on her dream venture of All Things Organic.

No goalpost can be reached without hiccups and bumps!

It is no secret that entrepreneurship is where destiny chisels you while you encounter challenges more and, success less. It was no easy route for Aditi too.

“Setting up the team was the single most challenging task in the initial phase – while I was actively meeting prospective team mates, the changing business dynamics made my search for the ‘right’ candidate quite tedious. But soon I realised that in a new venture, your business will need to keep adapting. Hence the single-most important skill I look for in my team-mates is the ability to adapt, enjoy volatility and thrive in changing scenarios,” says Aditi Gokhale.

The USPs in moving ahead in the cut throat competition

Aditi believes in versatility and authenticity. And it is this belief that led her to provide her customers with a unique shopping experience of viewing, reviewing and buying a plethora of organic products.

“Apart from our comprehensive portfolio, which caters to the various needs of a household, we take immense pride in offering traceability for our fresh produce, thus linking the farm to the consumer. Our focus is to bring in unique and exclusive products and making the entire organic experience real for our customers – all in a socially responsible way,” says Aditi.

She gives concise points on the three major USPs of her business–

  • Comprehensive portfolio – This provides a diverse range of products like fruits, veggies and groceries, and is one of the biggest USPs for All Things Organic. The other thing that the portfolio exclusively covers is a range of organic cosmetics, home care essentials and clothes.
  • Traceability – Aditi believes that transparency predominantly builds a strong customer base. So, her venture ensures traceability of the products, by reinforcing the emotional connection between farmers and consumers. This aspect has been covered by the Unique Farm Traceability Program for certified fresh produce, called FOOTPRINTS, that allows consumers to trace their purchase of fresh produce under the label – Organic Origins, back to their respective farms by using a QR code.
  • Unique and exclusive product development – The way to a customer’s heart is providing the customer a soulful connection with food, reminding the customer of his or her grandmother’s love. So, keeping the consumers’ nutritional needs in mind, Aditi has grouped the choices of food as per age groups post an extensive research. Her research reveals children’s love for a variety or nut butters that have been a success as derived from the feedback of discerning customers. Home made recipes that most families crave for, but are unable to create at home due to time constraints, have gained an undisputed popularity in homes that comprise all age groups.

“Organic Kanji, a childhood favourite winter drink in North India was sold out in its first week of launch! In the near term, we are also looking to launch a wide array of products in the healthy snacks category,” explains Aditi about the launch of Organic Kanji.

Bringing the organic experience alive for customers begins with making children happy. So, Aditi had also conducted a farm visit exclusively for children, where they not only got a taste of fresh farm produce, but also learned various farming practices involved. Currently, the venture is all set towards developing a handy home testing kit to convince the consumer of the 100 percent organic nature of the produce.

Profitability is one thing and then, there is the means to showcasing hidden gems from the remote parts of India and, from around the world. Which is why, Aditi Gokhale has made sure that her All Things Organic, true to its name also promotes products made by not-for-profit organizations that employ underprivileged women to help them earn their livelihood.

Aditi

With a loyal customer base and an overwhelming response, about 70 percent of products like fruits, veggies, honey and nut butters are available through the label All Things Organic. More than 20 stores in Mumbai and Delhi have stocked organic nut butters and honey. Besides, the products have been made available online on Amazon and on Godrej’s Nature’s Basket in Delhi.

She further adds, “In addition, we are also supplying various organic, fresh and processed food items to corporates like McKinsey & Co for their cafeteria.”

Future prospects for All Things Organic

“Over 75% of our orders are from repeat customers, thus validating our raison d’être while signalling a healthy customer service experience. We are also commanding a good share of the food wallet of these households with average spend of 3500 rupees per household,” explains Aditi about her strategy for reaching more homes with her organic produce.

A business venture is never complete without conceptualizing long term plans for future. Under Aditi’s able leadership, All Things Organic has grown by leaps and bounds in a short span of time with customers’ increased rate of order repeats and the continually growing customer base. The aim for All Things Organic is to reach more than 10000 households in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore with an average monthly spend of Rs 5000. The benchmark is set wherein a run rate of 40-60 crores is expected from the sales waiting in the pipeline.

Aditi further explains how they are now focusing on dairy now, as it is a part and parcel of every household and would fetch a monthly expense of Rs 2500-3000 per month, per customer.

When asked about her expansion strategy of All Things Organic, she gives us a peek into her vision for the future – “Our primary focus is to scale Organic Origins – staples, processed products, fruits & vegetables. We shall be setting up distribution channels for our private label – Organic Origins across modern trade, key institutions and international markets.”

She further adds, “In addition, we would like to develop quasi subscription like services for discerning customers in select cities via the All Things Organic platform. Over the next 12 months, we will be targeting 4000-6000 households with monthly spend of Rs 5000 per month; along with our private label sales.”

Aditi has set for herself a target number of 20000 households with a monthly expense of a minimum 3500 per month, which is expected to give a turnover of 100 crores within a year. About 3 to 5 crores has been budgeted for the marketing across various channels in the stipulated time.

Where dreams are envisaged, funding comes into play too!

Investment is the water that nourishes the root of entrepreneurship. Aditi, along with co-founder Aman Singal have invested substantially in All Things Organic with extended funding support from Gunjan Soni and S K Tuteja, who have immense faith in her capabilities as an entrepreneur.

She explains, “Gunjan is Chief Marketing Officer at Myntra, an ex McKinsey partner and former head of 
Strategy at Star India. Gunjan invested in our business as she personally is an avid consumer of organic food and believed in our mission and our team. S K Tuteja was Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Food and Public Distribution at the time of his retirement, and has been a consultant to the World Bank and UNIDO. He currently serves as a Director on the board of various Indian public & private companies. We are also looking at raising the next round of funding in the coming months.”

Spreading the magic of Organic

Expansion defines profitability in business. Aditi throws light on how their venture has spread across metros like Mumbai and Delhi. “We have offices in Delhi and Mumbai where we deliver our entire range including farm fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, we are shipping all products pan-India, except perishables.”

How entrepreneurship was the drive!

Aditi is a working mother and, an entrepreneur by choice. But as a woman, she feels that the need to pursue a dream with absolute conviction is the same for both men and women. Having worked with various multinationals and given her exposure to various challenging environments, Aditi has craved for challenges that would feed her dream of starting something indigenous. And, entrepreneurship has helped her achieve what she wanted.

When asked how she would view a full time job versus entrepreneurship, she replies candidly, “Being a working mother becomes a little challenging at times, but the motivation of creating something and seeing it develop gives immense gratification. This feeling of satisfaction is unmatchable with any career option.”

Reaching out on the virtual world

Online platforms certainly aid in impeccable marketing. And this is what Aditi has to say about the e-services provided: “We are an online platform focused exclusively on Organic & Natural products. The website was launched in September 2015 with the biggest potfolio of the best organic brands including our home made Organic Origins, which encompasses an eclectic range of products across fruits and vegetables, groceries, and a unique range of processed items made from organic ingredients. Apart from our wide range of food products, we are the only player to offer the entire range – cosmetics, clothes, home-care necessities, etc.”

Aditi’s pearls of wisdom to aspiring entrepreneurs

A humble Aditi Gokhale throws some light on her journey of entrepreneurship – “My experiences as an entrepreneur have been very fulfilling; while the last few months undoubtedly have been very challenging, the satisfaction of seeing your dreams take baby steps everyday, more than compensates for the long hours.”

When asked about how she deals with a demanding brain child – All Things Organic while playing the role of a mother too, she says – “Multitasking both at work and home is never easy, but with the support I have at home and, the team at All Thing Organic taking shape now, I am able to manage both ends effectively.”

She lives by the same motto that drove her into entrepreneurship – “Eat healthy – Stay healthy. Make a healthy choice – Choose organic.”

Given her unrestrained passion to reach out into uncharted territories in business, Aditi is a true believer in customer’s happiness and satisfaction. “Listen to the customer, keep trying out various possibilities,” is her success mantra.

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