Providing sports nutrition to IPL, BCCI, Pro Kabaddi League etc, how Fast&UP grew as a B2C brand in 5 years
Having spent around 13 years in the pharma industry and gaining experience by working with eminent companies like Lupin, Vijayaraghavan Venugopal decided to start a sports nutrition company.
“While I was working at Lupin Ltd with Satish Khanna, who is now Group President at the company, a chance meeting with his son Varun Khanna and a discussion around sports nutrition in India led us to start working in the industry,” Vijayaraghavan tells SMBStory.
In 2011, they startedHealthcare Pvt Ltd as a sports nutrition company in Switzerland on a trial basis under the parent company of Private Limited, which was Varun’s company and launched the brand Fast&Up as a B2B brand for effervescent nutrition, ie nutrition tablets that have a higher absorption rate.
The duo operated the brand in Switzerland for around four years but, unfortunately, it didn’t get much traction.
They then decided to bring the brand to India in 2015 as a B2C brand, and set up its headquarters in Mumbai.
In the interaction, Vijayaraghavan tells about the journey of the brand in India and how it got the opportunity to work with BCCI and bagged other eminent clients like IPL, Ranji Trophy Team, Pro Kabaddi League Team, and many more.
Fast&Up product range
Making a presence in India
The company has an in-house R&D centre and European Union compliant manufacturing unit that is located in Khopoli near Mumbai, Maharashtra. The raw ingredients for that the products are sourced from across the globe, including the US and Europe.
Fast&Up has 18 products right now, including Fast&Up Charge (Vitamin C immunity booster) and FastUp Reload (electrolytes), which continues to retain the highest demand. Apart from those, there are new segments like Fast&Up Terra (plant-based nutrition) that was launched in June 2020. The brand has also forayed into kids nutrition and Fast&Up Plant Protein For Women.
The brand followed the online route to reach its target customers and, at first, introduced the brand to the consumers through its website. Fast&Up’s online retail reaches over 40,000 pin codes and serves around 6,000 outlets offline.
In a span of a little over five years, the brand has now reached more than 1.5 million households across the country, with the majority of customers hailing from Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.
Sharing the episode of how the brand seized the order from BCCI, Vijayaraghavan says that there are a few options available in India for an effervescent nutrition brand that also matches informed choice certification and due to this, the Indian cricket team imports this kind of drinks from other countries.
“We were covering sports nutrition and this was a sweet spot we wanted to cater to. We approached Basu Shanker, an Indian performance coach whom we put forward the brand. At that time, there was the India VS England Test match happening in the country, and he connected us to the BCCI team,” he narrates.
“Days later, the BCCI told us that they were convinced and pleased with Fast&Up. I received orders for around 120 units of the brand and since then, there has been no looking back,” he adds.
Today, Fast&Up is a strategic supplier to premier institutes such as BCCI, IPL, Ranji Trophy teams, Pro Volleyball League teams, TN Premier League, I League teams, Pro Kabaddi League teams, etc. It has also been an official nutrition partner for Airtel Hyderabad Marathon, Tata Mumbai Marathon, and India’s first Ironman 70.3 Goa, among many others.
Vijayraghavan Venugopal, CEO and Co-founder, Fast&Up
Challenges and the competition
The brand has faced challenges when it comes to the sustenance and growth of the business. Vijayraghavan says,
“We are in a sweet spot right now because of COVID-19. But the demand dipped from the consumer segment between September 2020 to February 2021, however, now with the rising number of cases, we have regained demand. We expect the demand and opportunity to grow as now people are more inclined than ever towards nutrition.”
Competing with the likes of Enerzal and Gatorade in the effervescent nutrition category, and Oziva and in the plant-based nutrition category, etc, Vijayraghavan says there has been a sharp surge in the nutraceutical market, especially since the onset of COVID-19 with dietary supplements, immunity boosters, and plant-based nutrition is seeing the demand soar.
“This market is expected to grow from $4 billion in 2017 to $18 billion in 2025, where Fast&Up sees itself as the market leaders in effervescent, clean, intelligent and plant-based nutrition, fulfilling and catering to the needs of the Indian family,” he adds.
The way ahead
Fast&up recently roped in Shilpa Shetty Kundra as the brand ambassador. Though the brand has not disclosed the amount it has invested in the business and the turnover it has made, Vijayraghavan says the brand has marquee investors like Rare Enterprises, Sixth Sense, and Kotak onboard. “We are going to grow from where we are because we are just at the tip of the iceberg even in terms of the current segment that we are in,” Vijayaraghavan says.
The company is also planning to expand into other vast product categories and is returning to its roots in Switzerland to expand into other global markets. By the end of 2021, the brand is targeting 10,000 offline outlets.