With neem toothpicks, areca plates, and cattle feed, Bengaluru-based Ayurvaidic clocked Rs 2.5 Cr turnover in 2 years
Karthikeyan Kuppuswamy, Founder, Ayurvaidic
India, the land of Ayurveda as a way of holistic, alternative method of healing, has not just found adopters in the country, but abroad as well. And the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India has a score of budding entrepreneurs contributing to the Rs 30,000 crore worth Ayurveda industry.
In an interaction with SMBStory on the occasion of MSME Week celebration, Karthikeyan Kuppuswamy, Founder of Ayurvaidic reveals how he is contributing to the Ayurveda industry by stepping into the commoditised segment of manufacturing toothpicks and areca plates. And his company is seeing impressive growth and revenue.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
SMBStory: What made you step into the manufacturing of highly commoditised products like toothpicks and areca plates?
Karthikeyan Kuppuswamy: It is true that toothpicks and areca plates come under a very commoditised category and not many prefer to go for any particular brand when it comes to purchasing these items. There is also a reason for it being commoditised because there is nothing new a customer can find and so, we started by adding ayurvedic properties to it.
Our Ayurvedic neem toothpicks are made from neem wood extracts which is historically known to have antibacterial properties for effectively cleaning teeth and tongue. The Ayurvedic neem toothpicks also contain essential oils that contain antioxidants that freshen breath and aid in digestion after meals. It is 100 percent natural.
The areca plates are eco-friendly alternative to conventional disposable plates which generally have a plastic layer and are not healthy. Thus, we thought to manufacture these plates that are made from discarded areca leaves that are collected from the forest floor and no trees are cut.
Toothpick has a Rs 10 crore market share and we found it worth to hit the segment.
We founded the company with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 1 crore in 2017 and today clock a turnover of Rs 2.5 crore.
Ayurvaidic toothpicks (left) and cattle feed (right)
SMBS: What is your business model?
KK: We initially approached Ayur Central (a chain of ayurvedic clinics and pharmacies) as our products are ayurvedic in nature. We received a good response that encouraged us to diversify into the segment. The toothpicks are also approved by the Ministry of AYUSH. After Ayur Central we thought to scale up and entered Metro Cash and Carry.
Gradually, we expanded to the online segment and started from Bigbasket, which is one of our biggest clients. After this, we listed our products on Amazon, Flipkart, Shopclues, and more. At present, we are available in 23 cities across India and both toothpicks and areca plates are our best-selling products.
We have our manufacturing unit in Magadi from where we get raw materials, and in a day, the machinery can manufacture eight million products.
In Magadi, we employ around 20 rural workers in toothpick factory and 30 workers in manufacturing areca plates.
SMBS: How do you produce cattle feed from Areca?
KK: Earlier we used to throw away the waste products from Areca., However, one fine day, we found out that the cows grazing near our unit were feeding on the waste product. We then thought of breaking the waste into smaller pieces and feeding the cows but that involved manual process.
Later, we crushed the water product into fine powder and fed to the cattle. I researched about this on the internet and to my surprise I found that the government too is researching on feeding areca leaf powder to cattle as a substitute to paddy, which is scarce.
Upon research, I found that areca waste has more nutrition compared to the paddy and helps cows produce more milk.
SMBS: How are you surviving competition in the market?
KK: Due to the plastic ban, these products have taken a rise from a surface level. This is a very fragmented industry and there is no leading brand as such. Thus, we are trying to expand the business as much as possible and create a brand, which this industry is currently lacking.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
KK: We are planning on coming up with more ayurvedic products but that’s at the later stage. In the recent future, we want to scale up and open an offline store. We also want to partner with a government body to streamline the marketing process of the products.