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KIVA brings Ayurveda’s health benefits to millennials with ready-to-drink shots

Libza Mannan
17th Jan 2018
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Founded by an IIT-IIM alumnus, KIVA is on a mission to help millennials get their daily dose of Ayurveda. After shots, the startup is eyeing new product categories and is keen to expand its presence.

At a glance

Startup: Good Vitamin Foods

Founder: Shalabh Gupta

Year it was founded: 2016

Where it is based: Gurugram

The problem it solves: Offering ready-to-drink ayurvedic shots, the startup aims to make Ayurveda easier and more interesting for millennials.

Sector: Health and wellness

Funding raised: Recently raised undisclosed angel funding from marquee investors in India and abroad.

India’s ancient science, Ayurveda, has been garnering significant traction from global consumers and millennials due to its innumerable health benefits.

In the past couple of years, it has become one of the fastest-growing FMCG categories at 25-30 percent per year. The Indian Ayurveda market is now pegged at $2.5 billion and is expected to see a three-fold increase in market size, taking it to $8 billion, by 2022.

Considering the growing potential of the market, several players have entered the space in the form of ready-to-eat snacks, foods and other variants. Major players like Dabur, Patanjali, Hamdard, Zandu Pharma, Emami, and others are fighting it out to get a larger share of the pie.

However, Gurugram-based KIVA entered the market in 2016 with a unique proposition. Targeting millennials and the urban population, who often lack knowledge of the ancient science and are short of time, the startup intends to offer Ayurveda in a ready-to-drink form.

Shalabh Gupta, 32, Founder of KIVA Shots, says: “KIVA is not just targeting current consumers of Ayurveda. With innovative products, we are winning those consumers who today know about Ayurveda, but do not adopt it. Ayurveda is today where Yoga was 10 years ago!”

KIVA products at display

The brand’s presence

Available across a large number of stores and online, KIVA shots are being sold in packs of six for Rs 150 and are available in seven variants that claim to be infused with different benefits. Consumers can choose from amla shots (as a vitamin C booster); lemon honey cinnamon (for weight management); wheat grass (for detoxification); apple cider vinegar (for boosting metabolism

“I have been consuming KIVA for the last several months and the experience is amazing. My personal favourite is the Aloe Shot which not only has the juice, but also fibre,” says Shivali Kapoor, a Delhi-based HR professional and a happy consumer.

Started with a pilot in two stores in Gurgaon, the products are now available in over 100 stores in Delhi-NCR and also online via its own website and Amazon.

A one-man army

Former McKinsey consultant Shalabh, realising the need to make Ayurveda more approachable and interesting for millennials, set up KIVA in 2016 under Good Vitamin Foods.

The trigger was seeing amla juice bottles lying unused in his own kitchen for six months.

“I realised my wife and I hadn't touched the amla juice bottles after buying them ourselves even though we had consumed so many other health products! I wondered why we were enthusiastic consumers of probiotic drinks and green teas, but continued to ignore drinks made from amla, aloe vera and the like, which we knew had important benefits like boosting immunity or improving digestion,” Shalabh says.

He started speaking to friends and relatives, and later came to the conclusion that though there was high awareness and trust in these and other Ayurvedic remedies, adoption lagged dramatically.

Shalabh, an IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, had earlier worked as an Engagement Manager for McKinsey & Co for five years. After quitting McKinsey and after a year with Delhi-based Max Group, Shalabh says a lot of his experiences and interests naturally came together over the course of a few months in pursuing an incredible opportunity – building a global “Ayurveda 2.0” brand from India.

Shalabh Gupta

After a few months of market research, Shalabh built a small team and started developing products that would bridge this gap by improving the taste, convenience, availability and attractiveness of Ayurveda.

The result? Ayurvedic shots in multiple variants; Ayurvedic in character, but rejigged to suit the needs of the modern, urban customer. Next on the cards is a range of tasty Ayurvedic bars and candies.

Like every entrepreneur, Shalabh had his own set of challenges while starting out and recalls that making the products was the biggest one for KIVA.

“We kept tinkering with the taste and packaging, and after several progressively successful iterations, launched our current versions one year later. These have helped us gain wider acceptance,” Shalabh says.

The road ahead

So far, the company has sold over 5 lakh Ayurvedic shots and currently retails over 60,000 shots per month.

Going ahead, it aims to grow 10 times in the next six months by adding new product categories, expanding presence to two other cities (Mumbai and Bengaluru), and striking key brand partnerships such as KIVA-branded “Tasty Ayurveda” menus in juice cafes.

Backed by a team of 15 people, with five core team members, KIVA recently raised undisclosed angel funding from several marquee investors in India and abroad.

The startup plans to use these funds for new product development, brand building, and expansion to Mumbai and Bengaluru markets.

Amit Singal, Co-founder of Startup Buddy and one of KIVA’s investors, says: “KIVA is a very promising brand. Ayurveda is India’s past, present and future, and as the world adopts more natural and organic foods and beverages, KIVA as a brand of Ayurvedic shots has the potential to be a leader.”

“Our 2018 plans are to grow to at least three product categories and 15 SKUs, expand presence, and raise our first round of institutional capital for national and international expansion,” Shalabh signs off.

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