A few decades ago, life was much simpler. Time was in abundance. People could afford to exercise, sometimes even walk to their workplace. Now, however, there seems to be a short supply of everything – time, space and attention. There is always ‘that particular email I had to send out today’ or ‘that meeting that simply could not be postponed’ or ‘that get-together that I could not avoid’.
In the haste of today’s world, even the tiniest bit of food that is consumed by us has to be looked at closely, whether it is adding those unwanted extra calories or whether it is carrying the right amount of nutrition for our daily activities. Sometimes our normal intake may not even be enough; supplements are needed to offset any shortcomings in our diets.
Since 2010, a Mumbai-based company, Unived, is on the mission to do just that – to get people healthier, and to make good nutrition practices an integral part of the everyday lives of Indians.
How Unived was founded
Unived is a nutraceutical company that is focused on making innovative, natural, vegan dietary supplements and healthcare products that are inspired by nature and based on research. Born and raised in Mumbai, Founder and CEO Amit Mehta grew up in an environment that kindled his interest in sports and nutrition. He recalls enthusiastic galli cricket matches in the city, developing a lifelong passion for football, and his father’s interest in bodybuilding that influenced him.
Then came the international exposure and experience, with a Bachelor’s degree from Bond University, Australia, and an MBA in marketing and strategy from Williamette University, USA.
Living abroad brought Amit closer to a plant-based diet, which led to the realization that it was possible to support an active lifestyle with a wholly vegan diet. A lifelong interest in fitness and nutrition grew into an entrepreneurial spark. This spark brought Amit back to Mumbai to a 500 sq.ft office where Unived was born.
Three days later, Ameya Gavandalkar then a fresh herbal sciences graduate, who now oversees technology at Unived, came on board the research team. Two people began to outline the vision and the founding ethos of the company – ‘Inspired by nature. Based on research.’ The roadmap was clear – to make vegan nutrition products that would make the seamless journey from the lap of nature, to lab trials, to the lives of customers.
Unived’s Brand Director Siddhartha Dutta was in charge of developing Unived’s visual language which took a number of packaging samples and hours of brainstorming sessions.
The light bulb moment for the first product came from a surprisingly normal aspect of everyday life. Amit noticed that his mother would take her medicines with her cup of morning tea. Inspiration struck – tea was a part of the daily life of millions of Indians and it could be used as a means of improving health outcomes.
Trials and research yielded three precise formulations for herbal health teas. Unived had officially arrived with the launch of Activitea™, Digestea™, and Vitalitea™ for improved memory, better digestion and enhanced sexual pleasure respectively.
After building a foundation, the collective energy of the team was now focused towards making highly bio-available, natural, and superior alternatives to the current dietary supplements in the market. Unived soon unveiled OVEGHA™, a vegan Omega-3 DHA sourced from the primary source of DHA – microalgae - in a market that was saturated with fish-oil supplements. In 2013, Unived launched CalDveg™, a unique calcium and vitamin D3 supplement that ushered algal calcium and plant-based vitamin D3 into the Indian market dominated by inorganic calcium supplements.
What sets Unived apart?
Unived’s core philosophy is steered by its five guides – Innovation, Quality, Research, Nature and Veganism. The company is not only certified by PETA (India), but is also the first to be certified ‘Vegan’ by the Vegan Society, UK. Amit states that it was challenging to look for vendors who shared a similar philosophy, but that has only made the team strive harder to find partners who could meet their expectations without compromising on the quality of the ingredients. On an average, the team takes one to one-and-a-half years to develop a product from scratch – with trials conducted for safety and compliance with product quality standards in healthcare.
Unived’s portfolio of products has continued to grow between 2012 and 2015, and currently has 33 products across the three verticals. The healthcare vertical has already moved towards one of the ‘hotter’ categories of supplements – healthy weight management, through its product – MinusTM.
Dear Earth is Unived’s organic and vegan skincare vertical that offers a bouquet of head-to-toe skincare options to the discerning customer. Staying true to Unived’s core philosophy, Dear Earth is one of the country’s niche cruelty-free skincare brands.
Unived is currently at an exciting phase of growth with its sports vertical, Unived Sports, making steady headway with India’s athletic community. “We’re hoping to do great things with the sports vertical, and we are currently focusing on reaching out India’s tribe of serious and recreational athletes,” Amit says.
With launches under the sports range, Unived is looking to make high-quality sports nutrition products accessible to athletes in India. RRUNN™ is the country’s first homegrown and vegan sports nutrition system that caters to the physiological needs of an athlete from the start to the finish. Unived is also looking forward to the launch of India’s first vegan protein supplement, one of the firsts in a largely whey-dominated market.
Unived aims to expand to other segments, including diabetes management, strengthen its position in ethical markets, and establish itself in another state by mid-2015. Currently, Unived’s products ship across India to customers across all ages. It has a dedicated customer base in the form of sports enthusiasts. The Unived team hopes to reach out to more athletes across various sports and build relationships with teams and clubs to increase product penetration. With Dear Earth, Unived is reaching out to the eco-conscious market that is on the lookout for skincare products free of chemicals and parabens.
Amit adds that it’s immensely satisfying that some of Unived’s products like RYR™, India’s first natural statin, are changing people’s lives by eliminating the side-effects of synthetic medication. “Growth is great, but it’s not the only thing that matters. It’s the success stories of our customers that are hugely rewarding. This is our future – to bring out products that are a part of people’s journey towards good health and nutrition. This is who we are, and this is who we will continue to be.”