These four 14-year-olds are producing high-protein bread to serve a niche consumer base
In an age where entrepreneurs are starting out younger than ever before, four 14-year-olds from Mumbai’s Oberoi International School are famously riding the trend.
Parashie Sidhwani, Sera Sanyal, Zahaan Sabuwala, and Aarohi Rao, have founded ProteinPlus – a startup that specialises in providing high-protein products.
These students are currently selling high-protein bread that is baked using a full mix that is imported from Germany. Their mission is to introduce various protein products, including protein crackers, and cookies, for different audiences across India.
All four of them are students of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a ground-breaking series of sessions hosted by several schools across India, with an aim to transform students between the ages of 11 and 18 into real, confident entrepreneurs. Through these sessions, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and launch and run their own companies and social movements.
A niche audience
“We came up with the idea of ProteinPlus at the YEA! idea generation session. Most of us are sportspersons, and therefore, need a lot of protein on a daily basis, and we realised it would be extremely hard for our peers who are vegetarians who play sports to attain a source of protein,” Sera tells HerStory.
She also points out that 68 percent of the people are protein deficient, 71 percent have poor muscle health. Also, 84 percent Indian vegetarians and 65 percent meat-eaters are protein deficient.
“We also wanted to create a product that solved protein deficiency in India, which is why we also realised that common items with high protein should be essential,” she adds.
ProteinPlus’ first product is a high-protein bread for which the founders decided to import a protein mix from Germany.
“One of our family members had an alliance with a German company, which we were able to leverage to procure the protein mix. In order to make the bread, we needed a lot of technologically advanced machinery, therefore, none of our homes was a viable option,” explains Aarohi.
More protein, less carbohydrates
The startup partnered with Pantree Hospitality and Services Pvt Ltd located in Kanjurmarg West, Mumbai to bake the bread with the mix supplied to them. They would also deliver to a centralised location with an appropriate packing post that would then be taken for labelling.
Parashie explains what makes their bread special:
“Our bread is the only one in India that has low carbohydrate content and high protein content. We have only one main competition, which is The Health Factory. ProteinPlus bread has 23.6 gm of protein while The Health Factory bread has 19.26 gm of protein, although, in terms of carbohydrate content, ProteinPlus has only 5.50 gm of carbohydrates while The Health Factory has 43 gm – which is almost eight times of what we have. Also, normal bread is made up of 50 percent carbohydrates.”
Until now, they have managed to sell 140 loaves of bread and generated a revenue of Rs 26,000 through their first production batch that was sold out in five days.
“We aim to sell at least 200 pieces a month (although, this will gradually increase as our business will scale), therefore giving us revenue of Rs 37,000 in just a month! Moreover, in one year, we aim to reach a revenue of Rs 5,55,000,” says Aarohi.
Though the young entrepreneurs agree that Rs 185 for a single loaf of bread is expensive, they also realised that people from a niche market were willing to spend for a healthy lifestyle.
The founders were assisted by the YEA! in all aspects from planning to production, while providing expert advice and mentorship along the way. They also came second in the investor panel meet.
Expanding product range
But the journey hasn’t been without challenges.
“Our first main challenge was fixing a price. Even though we were targeting a niche market, there was no way anyone would buy an expensive bread on a daily basis, therefore, throughout our journey, we continued finding ways to reduce the cost, from production to transportation. Our second challenge was working as a team. Being a team of four, there were a variety of contradicting opinions that we had to take into consideration, therefore leading to several disputes that had to be resolved. But in the end, individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean, which is why our teamwork is the sole reason we have achieved this recognition,” says Parashie.
After attending a trade show, the students received many suggestions to expand ProteinPlus’ product base. They will soon be launching protein cookies and crackers, and will also look at creating a subscription-based model and delivery service, where people can order bread on whatever day they require it, which will be delivered to their doorstep.
“In the near future, we also hope to create tie-ups with nutritionists and gyms so that we gain more publicity and become more renowned. Apart from this, we also hope to sell our products in several supermarkets such as Natures Basket, BigBasket, etc. Additionally, since Flipkart and Amazon also have a grocery section, we want to look at working with them too,” says Aarohi.
Edited by Kanishk Singh