How WhatsApp helps Artinci's founder overcome her hearing disability and run her business
Who doesn’t love ice cream, especially if it is premium, all-natural, and free of preservatives and additives? That’s what Aarti Laxman Rastogi has been offering through her brand Artinci since March 2018.
“Artinci was started to offer clean-label ice cream that is natural, free of stabilisers, emulsifiers and artificial flavourings, and freshly crafted in small batches. We wanted to offer ice creams that we would ourselves like to eat,” says Aarti.
The former HR professional, whose last stint at Accenture involved talent strategy and the company’s diversity programmes, said that she always knew that food was her passion. Her favourite dessert – ice cream– was the ‘natural’ choice.
In 2012, she made her first batch of ice cream at home inspired by a disappointing visit to the mall with her daughter when they were served artificially-flavoured ice cream.
Aarti was determined that she would use only real ingredients and a one-time attempt became a routine affair with friends and family lining up for her culinary attempts. This sowed the seeds for Artinci, which opened its doors in Bengaluru in 2017.
Local ingredients, inclusive practices
One of the highlights of Artinci’s offerings is that it follows sustainable practices and uses locally sourced ingredients. Whether it is coffee from Karnataka or vanilla from Kerala, Artinci is also encouraging local farmers rather than depending on imported goods.
Artinci is also amongst a growing number of small businesses that follow inclusive hiring practices. Aarti says she draws on her experience in HR to ensure that they provide equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and people from the LGBTQIA+ community.
To ensure this, Artinci is working with Enable India and the Solidarity Foundation. As Aarti herself has a hearing disability, she says that this is a matter very close to her heart.
“We providing livelihoods to different sections of our community – whether it is persons with disabilities, or those who identify as LGBT, among others,” says Aarti.
Reaching out for growth
WhatsApp has been a great enabler, especially for her.
“I have a hearing disability and I don’t do phone calls. WhatsApp is a great communication enabler for me. I text my way through the planning and execution of any business day. It helps to give and receive instructions in writing too, for complete clarity in communication, and leaves no room for misinterpretation.”
According to her, being bootstrapped, the company has spent almost next to nothing on marketing campaigns or on customer service because it uses Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram to communicate with stakeholders – from product launches to customer queries and feedback.
She mentions how a targeted WhatsApp campaign helped Artinci successfully launch a special, limited-edition healthier ice cream made with natural raw jaggery.
“We sold out half of this batch, through WhatsApp exclusively,” she says.
Artinci’s WhatsApp number is on all the company's packaging. In fact, Artinci has also directly shipped ice creams to customers when the delivery points ran out of stock.
“WhatsApp helps us be agile and highly responsive and in enabling our products to reach our customers wherever they may be in Bangalore.”
Aarti says it helps to register as a verified business on WhatsApp, and communicate with customers mindfully without spamming them to earn customer trust.
At present, the team has 14 members, and the company has expanded its footprint in Bangalore to five locations, with two more in the offing.