These sibling-entrepreneurs want to help every parent's problem — healthy snacking for children
Founded by siblings duo Aswani Chaitanya and Hima Bindu, Bengaluru-based Timios offers healthy snacks for children, priced between Rs 20 and Rs 320.
Aswani Chaitanya was keen on starting something of his own, putting his over a decade-long corporate life behind him.
In 2016, Aswani, along with his sister and nutritionist, Hima Bindu — both of whom are parents — set on a journey to offer age-appropriate healthy snacking for children.
The duo set clear goals of becoming an everyday household brand by offering affordable, healthy, and tasty snacks — a combination that would solve most parent’s dilemmas in choosing the right snacks for their children.
“Today, even schools do not allow junk food, and parents are constantly looking at what to pack for recess or even at home during the pandemic. We are their healthy answer,” Hima says.
Bengaluru-based brandoffers a wide range of snacks, including fruity bites, energy bars, breakfast cereals, and porridges for babies, toddlers, and school-going children.
In fact, it also offers a few “mom-trients” products for pregnant and lactating women.
“The fact that most of the audience are repeat customers shows that we are solving the children’s snacking problem for many parents. Once a user discovers our brand, they tend to stick around,” she adds.
Making snacking healthy
As parents, the duo knew that the “health” factor alone would not suffice to penetrate the snack market. The idea was to keep the snacks simple, fresh, and preservative-free.
“No matter the quality of the product, if it doesn’t taste good, kids will not like it, and parents can only force it once or twice,” Aswani says.
He adds that Timios is not only building a brand but also a product category along the way.
“A decade back, stores did not have a dedicated aisle for organic products, and now they do. Similarly, that is what we want to build for kid's snacks,” he says.
Priced between Rs 20 and Rs 320, Timios’s products, such as mini oaty bites, teething sticks, nutty bars, and berry bars, are available on its website and across ecommerce marketplaces, including Bigbasket, Grofers, Amazon, and Flipkart.
The brand also has a retail presence in over 500 stores across India, with good traction coming from Seven Sister states in the Northeast region.
Outside India, the brand sells in the US via Amazon and delivers small consignments to the UK, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.
However, its international presence is negligible and not a focus area for the startup at present. On average, it receives around 3,000-4,000 orders per month.
In 2018, MTR Foods first invested in Timios from its Rs 50 crore seed fund for early-stage startups. It also helped the brand with mentorship on marketing, sales and distribution strategy, food safety standards, and management of resources.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Timios demand grew as children stayed home and continued schooling online. In June 2020, it also raised a pre-Series A funding round from Mysuru-based Rangsons Technologies with participation from Paipal Ventures.
Long road ahead
Aswani and Hima seek their children's feedback for all their products.
Over the years, they have also developed an entrepreneurial bent of mind and comment on how certain things may or may not work commercially, in fact, reporting on how many children they saw having Timios at school.
At times, Hima’s son shows her certain snacks and asks her to make a healthier version of them.
However, as entrepreneurs, the sibling duo says there are more bad days than good. Being a small brand, they say, Timios faces multiple challenges in terms of funds and production capacity.
The biggest difficulty, however, seems to be the discovery and reaching the potential customers, which are tackled with online and word-of-mouth marketing efforts.
At present, the startup is building a niche in a nearly non-existent healthy snacking segment for children, even though the snacking market as a whole is valued at around $4 billion in India, dominated by the likes of ITC and Britannia.
“In the FMCG market, we have a long way to go, but we are happy there is a long way to go,” Aswani concludes.
Edited by Suman Singh