What got this IIM alum's bootstrapped snack startup onto Amazon’s Launchpad
New year, new goals. And for most of us, it has got something to do with fitness, as we enthusiastically sign up for gym memberships and kick off keto diets. But as it always goes each year, most of us give up within the first few weeks, because, let’s face it, for how long can apple slices and greet tea satisfy our evening-time hunger pangs?
But Chakhna Shot wants to tell you that your 4pm pick-me-up needn’t be so drab. Operating under parent company Belly Fit F&B, the Gurugram-based startup was founded in October 2018 by IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus Amar Choudhary to provide healthy snack options that don’t scrimp on taste. The startup was recently selected for Amazon’s Launchpad programme, a platform by the ecommerce giant that showcases cutting-edge products of innovative startups.
“On doing some research I found out that healthy snacking was limited to the premium segment. Cracking into the mass segment is what I aspire for. I believe that irrespective of the buying power, every individual should get access to good snacks,” says Amar, 38.
A BTech Mechanical Engineering graduate, Amar enrolled for the MTech programme in IIT-Delhi and later dropped out.
Prior to Chakhna, Amar took the entrepreneurial plunge in 2007 with Aapka Khana, a tech platform solving the accessibility of homemade food for working people. Amar did his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and worked with Engineers India Limited, a Navratna PSU under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for a decade.
Amar had also previously founded edtech startup Smart Student in 2017. Besides that, he also co-founded an NGO, Mission Ethical India, which trains students on moral and ethical values.
Amar then ventured into Chakhna Shot in 2018, by investing Rs 1 lakh. Until November 2019, Amar managed the business himself but has since hired three sales people and one delivery executive.
“My greatest challenge has been exploring trends and consumer behaviour for a new snacking brand, against the established domestic and international players. Exploring the product-market fit and understanding customer experience was the key to frame our go-to market strategy and positioning the right brand messaging,” Amar says.
Chakhna Shot has collaborated with an ISO-Certified manufacturing facility in Delhi. It manages the sales and distribution channel from its sales office in Delhi.
Chakhna Shot, as the name suggests, offers snacks that are traditionally considered great paired with alcohol. However, Amar wants to take the “taboo away from the word and re-position it as a brand having high youth connect”.
The startup offers peanuts in flavours including Peri-Peri, Jalapeno Twist, Smoked Tandoori, Minty Mania, and Achari Masti. These are available in packs of Rs 10, Rs 25, and Rs 60. Besides peanuts, Chakhna Shot also has cashew nuts (available in Rs 30, Rs 50, and Rs 450 packs), almonds (Rs 30, Rs 50, and Rs 400 packs), and Nut Bowl, a variation of breakfast packed with nuts and seeds, available in Rs 50 and Rs 250 packs.
The startup sources its peanuts from Gujarat and spices from Kerala.
In the last one year, it has developed B2B and B2B2C clients, including WH Smith, Reliance ecomm, Vendiman, Grubox, Azgo, Vending, Nutrifills, and Vendstop, among others. Additionally, Chakhna Shot is available in trade markets in Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Pune, though its distribution networks. It is also available in Amazon.
“We are poised to reach 10,000 retailers in the next six months,” says Amar.
The snack market
Chakhna Shot has a direct revenue model. It generates revenue only by selling the products. According to Amar, its revenue has increased from Rs 5,000 in the first month to Rs 12 lakh currently. The Gross Merchandise Value is more than Rs 77 lakh. Chakhna Shot is targeting Rs 1 crore GMV by March 2020.
Bootstrapped since inception, it is yet to break even.
The Indian snack market is over-crowded with traditional players like Haldiram, Pepsi Co, ITC, and Balaji. More recently, players like Yoga Bar, Health Warrior, and Nature’s Path are breaking the healthy snack bar options. However, Amar believes that Chakhna Shot’s differentiator lies in the fact that it is catering to the masses by being affordably priced.
Chakhna Shot has also sampled its products in the US, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, and Bangkok.
“Saudi Arabia’s prospect is reaching towards maturity and we should be able to launch the product by next month. In the US, we have already sampled our products in 20 places and looking to officially launch as well,” says Amar.
The startup is looking at funding to further strengthen its core team and on-board a leadership team. Its long term plans include owning a manufacturing plant to optimise unit economics.
That is not all. The young firm wants to create impact as well.
“Additionally, we wish to divert our major procurement directly from the farmers to impact their economic conditions. Also, we have a clear vision to onboard women to at least half the workforce,” says Amar.
Chakhna Shot is set to enter the Kolkata and Mumbai markets next month.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)