Imagine something you created had the ability to get someone through a career-making presentation without them imagining the numbers dancing on the slides. Or that you could save someone the embarrassment of throwing up every time a ladoo was waved in their face on their wedding day. You would have every reason to be completely invested in the product you were building. This is what inspires the father-daughter duo of Bharat and Mitali Tandon as they constantly work on improving the elixir they have concocted for night birds – Morning Fresh, the antidote for nasty hangovers.
A rather dope solution
Mitali Tandon started out rather young. While still in college, she volunteered with the Spastic Society of Karnataka and was part of the 'Young Enterprise' group. She clocked short stints with the forensics department at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Bangalore, and took up advocacy at Samvada, an NGO backing Dalits and Adivasis in Karnataka, as their fundraising manager. During that time, she also involved herself in her father's business that dealt in Animal health, biotech and pharmaceuticals. It was then that she had her eureka moment.
"Our parent company Sericare, is a pioneer in the field of sericulture and using silk as a bio-material," says Mitali, founder and CEO of Morning Fresh. " I was always encouraged to work with my hands and be independent in thought and action. During our research, we discovered that certain peptides from silk protein stimulate the production of ADH. ADH is an enzyme that naturally occurs in your liver, and that is what helps break down alcohol. But it gets overpowered when given excess alcohol to manage, thus resulting in hangovers. But peptides re-activate the enzyme. We were very excited by the potential of the idea, and decided to test our hypothesis. We did a preliminary study on rats. We got fantastic results, which was really our ‘aha’ moment and that encouraged us to start developing the product."
They developed Morning Fresh as the only post-drinking solution to help relieve the after-effects of alcohol consumption. “Most people rely on home-remedies or informal methods. Our target audience is also very health conscious and we were particular about keeping the product natural, portable, and easy to consume," explains Mitali. Completely natural, its key ingredients are silk protein hydrolysate, Vitamin C and Mulberry Extract. They created three flavours – cola, mint and strawberry, at Rs 100 a bottle.
Binging on strategy, expansion, and publicity
To build a business around the breakthrough, they evaluated the market size in terms of the number of cases of alcohol bought every year, and the number of bars and restaurants that serve liquor. The quick survey showed that binge drinking was on the rise, and that there was a proliferation of bars and restaurants in the city and youngsters were increasingly leading a fast-paced life. Their customers are young professionals between the ages of 21 and 35 years. They are social drinkers, party goers, have high disposable incomes, and are also often health and fitness conscious.
"Our model is to continuously and consistently set a relevant context of Morning Fresh to our customer by being visible and available at venues our target market spends time at. And, there is a pattern that emerges in their lifestyle and entertainment preferences, so, we want to be around when they are most likely to need the product. Like at a bar with the bill; ensuring that wedding planners make Morning Fresh available in guest's rooms at the end of a sangeet or a cocktail reception; or even at the checkout counter of a liquor store," explains Mitali.
"Customers expect us to be responsive 24/7. I have received calls at midnight and 2:00 am from customers who want the product 'immediately'. We realise it is an occupational hazard, especially with a product of this nature and are working towards a sustainable solution," she elaborates, regarding the next leg of their business.
No morning without Morning Fresh
Mitali wants Morning Fresh to stand for responsible drinking, by having the top 500 bars and restaurants in the country that support responsible drinking stock it as part of the drinking routine or drinking culture. “Drink Morning Fresh as your last drink of the evening and wake up fresh, ready to take on your day. This should become the new drinking routine,” says Mitali.
This is being done by associating with specific kinds of events in the city - like Kitsch Mandi, Strawberry Fields, SteppinOut Food Festival; through e-commerce platforms for easy access to information and sales, and tying up with distribution points like bars, restaurants, and wedding planners.
In the two months, since they have been in distribution, they have built a presence at Dewars Wine Stores, St. Marks Road, Red Fork and Hangover at Indiranagar, as well as events in venues like Shiro's, Ub City, Church Street Social . With a user base of over 500, they have sold over 3,000 bottles, and had several little success stories that form the basis of their motivation. "When customers call us saying they made it through their own wedding because of Morning Fresh, and thank us for making sure they received their last-minute order in time or because they were able to get to work on time or catch an early flight, we know we are on the right track," says Mitali.
Who's the boss?
Between the 25-year-old daughter who wants to experience first and decide later, and the 62-year-old seasoned entrepreneur, who is set in his ways, their business is as varied a concoction as their product itself. "My father has had extensive academic and professional experience in the world of business, bio-technology and business development. He brings his collective experience, love for bio-technology, wisdom and foresight to the table while I add creative energy, new technology and out-of-the box marketing strategies. And as you would have guessed, the tug of war that ensues is mostly strategy related as we are trying to find a balance between traditional and modern methods of creating an impact."
Also, in this space locally, there are certain herbal capsules, Mitali informs us. "However the functionalities of our products are very different. Abroad, there are several products that target the same segment; however, very few, if not none, are post-drinking solutions that use silk-proteins as their active ingredient," she says.