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investment 31 Aug 2016

This startup aims to make consumers healthy without affecting their eating habits

PurO Wellness that started off with an initial investment of approximately Rs 6 crore, recently raised Rs 250 crore from the Torrent Group.

By Pragati Ratti Sharma Associate Editor

The wellness market of India is turning out to be a hub of opportunities. While we wrote about how big FMCGs are utilising these opportunities with newer products in this segment, the sector is also seeing mushrooming startups filling the gaps and owning these opportunities. One such startup looking to capture a significant share in this trillion dollar market is Ruchir Modi’s PurO Wellness.

PurO Wellness that started off with an initial investment of approximately Rs 6 crore, recently raised Rs 250 crore from the Torrent Group, which is its parent company. This funding has given the startup an initial push in its nascent stage. In an interaction with Wellness India, Ruchir Modi, Founder, PurO Wellness said, “Given the rising growth prospect in the wellness industry, the Torrent Group has invested in PurO and this fund is primarily for PurO’s five year growth plan. However, a substantial part of the fund will be utilised for the first 2 years of operation as any startup calls for initial marketing, R&D and working capital expenses.”

Conceptualisation and Products

PurO Wellness is based on the concept of providing healthier supplements for basic food ingredients such as salt, sugar and spices. “Puro was conceptualised with the core idea of coming up with solutions for chronic health issues without impacting the eating habits of people. The substitutes we offer for these products are completely natural and, therefore, help maintain the same taste while eliminating the risk factors,” says Modi.

With this concept, the product range of PurO Wellness is called SoLite, which consists of SoLite Salt, SoLite Sugar, SoLite Rice and SoLite spice. These, says the organisation, are healthier, yet tasty versions of the regular ingredients used in food. What drives the DNA of these products is a mix of ‘purity, health and taste’. “These three are the key elements that we have kept in mind will conceptualising our product portfolio. We firmly believe that this combination will give us an upper hand and also help in ensuring a sustainable business model,” Modi adds.

What’s so unique?

The USP of PurO products is that they do not compromise on taste while giving the consumers health benefits. As Modi puts it, it is the ‘synergy of health, taste and purity’ that helps PurO stand apart in the crowd. “Just by replacing the basic ingredients like sugar, salt, spices and rice with our products, anyone can continue to enjoy their favourite taste without being apprehensive of future health issues. Thus, PurO helps in ensuring enjoyment without stress,” he adds.

But the question is as to what really differentiates PurO from other food supplement providers. Modi says the differentiation lies in the ‘niche’ created by his startup. “The market has several finished ready to eat products. Despite the advent of new technologies, taste remains an issue, ultimately resulting in compromise for the consumer. PurO products aim at meeting this latent need and thereby, differentiate itself from the competition. We offer taste with health, and that makes us different,” he tells Wellness India.

Pricing, Promoting, Marketing

In its first phase, PurO is looking at targeting working women in the age group of 25-55 years. The firm looks to cash in on the fact that it is mostly the women who are decision makers when it comes to buying the basic kitchen ingredients. Their pricing strategy, therefore, is in tune with its target buyer.

“As the products will target majorly the women in the DINK and DISK category of young professionals with annual household income greater than Rs. 5 lakh, pricing will not be a very critical decision factor for the customer. In addition to these, we also aim to cater prospects with health issues or those who are cautious about their health. Both these segments realise the value of health and thereby will be willing to invest in products that ensure long term health benefits. To give you the context, when Saffola Gold was launched it was priced more than double the existing competition in the late 90s when disposable income was far lower than today but they could gain significant market share and today it is Marico’s flagship product because their target audience was similar to ours,” Modi explains.

As for marketing, the startup is looking at social media as the key driver. “We will primarily try to focus the influencer groups who play a key role in propagating healthy food habits. Along with direct advertisement tools such as print and outdoor, Social Media will also play a very important role in our promotion strategy,” says Modi.

What’s the plan?

PurO is aiming at helping middle class and above families, which are highly stressed and overworked, become free from stress and related disorders by the end of its first 5 years plan. Weight loss and fitness are also byproducts, says Modi as he adds that these will help consumers in being more productive in their day to day work than before, thus, giving better and faster results in what they aim to achieve.

In the second 5 year plan, the startup is targeting all 121 crore Indians and looks at ‘contributing to the noble purpose of healthy India’. “Numbers is not something we chase, but if successful in achieving our mission, it should result in Rs 1,000 crore sales turnover,” says a hopeful and confident Modi.

But no plan execution is complete without challenges and PurO Wellness has an action plan in place to meet those challenges. “Definitely being a startup in today’s competitive wellness market is challenging. Building brand awareness, ensuring product visibility, creating the right value-chain, choosing the right media plan etc. are some challenging areas, but our unique product offering gives us an upper hand. We believe, for flourishing of any business, two factors play a very important role, first is the value system that drives the business and the second is the purpose of the business. At PurO, both our Value and Purpose are clear and firm and this will help us in mitigating all possible challenges,” Modi says.

The future

The health and wellness segment in India is worth Rs. 39,000 crores, growing at 8-10 per cent annually. The organic food segment is increasingly gaining popularity in the Indian food industry. To add to that, increasing awareness levels are resulting in more health conscious consumers looking at healthier food options. PurO Wellness is looking at grabbing a considerable share in not just this market, but also the regular ingredients market. As Modi tells us, “PurO products offer a better alternative without tampering the taste, and are expected to enjoy a sizable market share in the coming future. We are not just aiming Rs. 39,000 crores but the entire Rs. 15 lakh crores of direct competing commodities like salt, sugar, rice and spices on a long term basis. Hence, we call it a revolution.”

Modi concludes by saying, “For the French, it was liberté, égalité, fraternité. Our grand idea is simplicity itself - Simplicity, sustainability, integrity. This better way is not our own invention. We’ve found it in the rhythms of nature and in the wisdom of generations.” 

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