How this Bengaluru-based startup blends AI and nutraceuticals to give consumers a healthy choice
Coming from a sports background, friends Abhimanyu Rishi (38) and Kusum Bhandari (42) are strong believers in natural health care.
Their startup, Bhookha Haathi, was born out of a realisation that there were no true 100 percent natural products among the existing health solutions available in India. These entrepreneurs’ primary aim was to help people replace unhealthy and harmful chewing products.
Founders Kusum Bhandari and Abhimanyu Rishi
Bengaluru-based Bhookha Haathi was thus founded by the duo in 2018, with the vision of creating products that would help people do away with the widespread vice of tobacco-chewing.
“There are around 232 million tobacco-users in India, of which 30 percent are into the habit of chewing tobacco. Bhookha Haathi has a vision for 2050, where it would want to reduce the consumption of tobacco by more than 50 percent. Also, there is a need to limit the consumption of unhealthy mouth fresheners which are full of additives and preservatives and cannot claim to be 100 percent natural.”
Apart from natural mouth refreshers, Bhookha Haathi, at present, offers a range of health foods that, according to the founders, not only cures many long-term and hereditary diseases but also, resolves a range of nutritional deficiencies with no side-effects.
The startup claims to have pioneered a nutraceutical-tech domain powered by its proprietary AI software. With this technology capability, Bhookha Haathi also provides subscription-based, personalised health solutions at an affordable cost to consumers who wish to substitute or replace their dependencies on expensive, strong, processed, and chemical-based products.
Its offerings are 100 percent natural compositions based on dried fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, seeds, grains, and honey, among other whole and natural ingredients.
Abhimanyu and Kusum recount that they met each other through a common acquaintance and, over a few cups of coffee, ended up sharing their thoughts on the need for affordable nutraceutical solutions.
Abhimanyu has held various management, leadership, and strategic positions during his stints at Snapdeal, Tastykhana, and Styletag over two decades. Kusum, on the other hand, has over 18 years of experience. She has previously worked in various leadership and strategic-level positions at Images Bazaar, Triton Communications, and the Sahara Group.
Today, including the founders, Bhookha Haathi is a 15-strong team.
“We believe that a healthy lifestyle starts with selecting healthy food. We are constantly thinking of our consumers and looking for innovative ways, to help them make healthier food through alternative food products. Bhookha Haathi takes its consumers one step closer to a healthier diet by offering them nutritious, wholesome, and tasty choices as an alternative to the nutrient-deficient ingredients in the average daily diet,” explains Kusum.
The startup’s products include dry-fruit mouth refreshers, a dry-fruit health-booster starter pack (natural, daily health boosters for sports, fitness, and health enthusiasts), and pro-health booster packs (for gym, yoga, and bicycling experts). The range is priced between Rs 199 and Rs 399 per 100 gms.
“Dry fruits are a great source of energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. Our popular range of dry fruit- and nut-based health boosters is a great alternative to the unnatural proteins, vitamins, and other powders commonly available in the market.”
Consumers also have a range of speciality honey to choose from, which can serve as a healthy replacement for the sugars used in beverages and for other daily consumption.
“Sourced directly from farmers and producers, our range of proprietary health food products celebrate pure, powerful, healing, and health-promoting ingredients which are 100 percent natural and organic without any preservatives, added colours, or artificial flavours,” shares Abhimanyu.
The startup’s personalised subscription plans for medications involve plans that are set based on the lifestyle the customer follows. The customers can get these services by signing up on its website.
Its AI works between profiling and the current medication patterns and it suggests a nutraceutical package which includes nutraceutical products based on subscription.
“We believe that we are India’s first AI-powered personalised subscription-based platform with various proprietary products, services, and solutions under the nutraceutical umbrella,” says Kusum.
The plans are priced between Rs 4,999 and Rs 19,999 per annum, depending on the ailment, tests conducted by its AI software and frequency of treatment.
According to the founders, the health food products are sold to customers through chemists, retailers, and panwalas across north and east Bengaluru, some parts of Mumbai, and Hyderabad. Its personalised subscription plans are available to consumers across the country.
Some of Bhookha Haathi’s repeat B2B partners are Easy Day and Natures Basket, apart from enterprise and individual partners like yoga centres, gym trainers, and medical practitioners. It is also selling its products on online platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart.
The market and the numbers
According to research on global markets, the nutraceuticals segment was valued at Rs 26,000 crore in 2017 and is expected to reach Rs 80,000 crore by 2023 at a CAGR of 17 percent.
“While there are many big and small nutraceutical product-based players like Nestle, Amway, etc. providing health supplements, we strongly believe that none of them have yet explored AI technology the way we have and plan to in the next few years.”
She adds that 70 percent of its customers, currently numbering around 25,000, are in the age group of 25-45.
"We have generated 4,000 pre-sales orders from the US market and are expected to reach 30,000 by the end of our pre-sales campaign in January 2020. We also have aggressive plans and strategies to expand to other international markets," says Abhimanyu.
Talking about the revenue, the Co-founder says, “We have seen 10X growth since inception, with around Rs 3 crore generated in total revenue. We made a revenue of Rs 30 lakh in FY18, Rs 1.34 crore in FY19, and Rs 1 crore till Q2 of FY20.” The team is targetting revenue of close to Rs 3 crore for FY20.
Bootstrapped so far, the company has plans to raise funds in the coming months to scale up its operations, expand its customer base, and advance its proprietary AI technology.
It has plans to automate the AI technology to an API-based system that its partners can lease for a minimal cost to enhance their consumers’ health experiences.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)