Mugdha Pradhan and Trusha Dethe are the Co-founders of Thrive, a unique healthcare venture that focuses on the food you eat and how it affects your body.
“Conventional medicine sees you as a health problem that needs fixing; we see you as a beautiful puzzle waiting to be solved.”
This statement is emblazoned across Thrive’s website. A tad dramatic maybe, but one cannot but accept that the world is talking about approaching health and nutrition in a holistic manner.
The buzzword is functional nutrition. Just as functional medicine approaches the body by looking at treating the root cause of disease, there is a branch of nutrition that looks at how food affects your body on a cellular level.
Mugdha Pradhan (39) and Trusha Dethe (34) had their own struggles with chronic ill health and various treatments over many years that covered a considerable part of their youth. Conventional methods of treatment did not yield many results and when they began researching functional nutrition, they started getting a clear picture of what was going on in their minds and bodies.
“We began uncovering simple solutions that were working for us, like harnessing the power of food as medicine. We realised that a lot of people were going through similar problems and no one was addressing these. That’s how the idea of Thrive was born,” Mugdha says.
Food as medicine
What is functional nutrition and how does Thrive look at health holistically?
Trusha offers a simple explanation. “Through our study of functional nutrition we learnt that any chronic illness can be reversed completely if you find the root cause and eliminate it. And since our body is fundamentally made of food, it plays the biggest role in creating either good or bad health for us. We also realised that when you are sick it becomes difficult to make sense of the information that comes from multiple directions, analyse it in your head, and implement the needful changes. Thrive supports you to investigate the root causes of your health problems and eliminate them while harnessing the power of food as a medicine.”
The duo clearly knew what they were talking about. Mugdha’s health was on a downward spiral with obesity, diabetes, allergies, hormonal imbalances, depression, mood swings, and suicidal tendencies. Meanwhile, Trusha suffered from migraines, PCOD, fibromyalgia, chronic stomach infections, and depression for more than 15 years.
“When we went through our respective health crises, friends and family stepped in to help. As we learned more, we started sharing simple tips and recipes with them. Those who tried them wanted to learn more; our first customers simply materialised and we were shocked when they wanted to pay. That's when we realised this could be a viable business. There is something very Tao about the way we operate even now, and this harmony with our purpose is the only strategy we have. We consciously avoid strategies that cause stress and cause us to lose our wellness,” Mugdha says.
Nutritionist in the pocket
Pashupati Nath, Thrive’s Chief Learning Officer, is also their mentor. Mugdha met Trusha at a Knife Defence Class conducted by him. He has over 27 years’ experience in healing people with chronic illnesses as well as coaching entrepreneurs.
Trusha is a Certified Functional Medicine guide and a Certified Yoga Mukti Massage Therapist. Mugdha has a master’s degree in nutrition. Their line of work is online and requires them to have no office, so they are experimenting with staying in Uttarakhand for the summer and going down to Goa for the winter. The company is registered in Mumbai.
“Our USP is that we do this online and take it one day at a time. Our coaching is available real time. When someone signs up with us, it’s like having a nutritionist in their pocket. Wherever they go with their phone, we go with them. There is no IP we can make since we use natural foods. However, this knowledge isn't commonly available; our sources are modern research and traditional sources like yoga and Ayurveda which we have researched ourselves,” Trusha states.
Thrive has a client base from India, the US, Australia, and Europe. Most of their business comes from referrals from current clients. Bootstrapped, their overheads and investments are less, and they are already in profit mode. The startup is looking at a projected revenue of Rs 1,50,00,000 for 2018-2019.
Functional nutrition is not one of the easiest concepts to propagate. Mughda believes that the toughest challenge has been to prove that an effective alternative to the conventional healthcare system exists.
“Our biggest success has been that people believed in our model and started trusting us to take care of their health,” she says.
What’s up next?
As for the future, the duo is optimistic of the reach of functional nutrition. “We want to continue to scale our functional nutrition consulting practice. We also want to set up Thrive Academy, where we can teach functional nutrition to anyone who’s interested in becoming a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner. On the anvil are Thrive-certified
restaurants and takeaways that can offer people with busy lifestyles anti-inflammatory, non-allergenic, and customised food to heal their body and mind,” Trusha says.
The startup wants to continue to make allergy tests and basic blood tests more economical and partner with labs that will make it easy for people to access these tests.
“Most important of all, we want people to understand the best doctors really are food, rest, exercise, sunshine and water,” Trusha says, as she signs off.