To save cooking time, this entrepreneur launched a sauces brand that now sells 50,000 bottles a month

Kanhai Porecha founded Zissto sauces with an aim to save cooking time, especially for bachelors and working couples. In a span of three years, the brand now sells 50,000 bottles a month and plans to enter into export.

To save cooking time, this entrepreneur launched a sauces brand that now sells 50,000 bottles a month

Friday April 03, 2020,

5 min Read

In today’s fast-paced world, our food habits are also changing fast. There was a time when we used to buy vegetables from the market, bring them home, chop them, cook them, and then have a freshly prepared meal. But who has so much time now?

Our way of eating changed when instant noodles hit the market. Instant mixes, instant coffee and tea, hot chocolate, custard, and the like, soon followed. We now have an instant food solution for almost all kinds of meals which has made life easier for all those who don’t wish to spend extra hours in the kitchen after a long tiring day at work.


Kanhai Porecha, Founder, Zissto sauces

Adding to the wide-in-demand, instant food trajectory is Zissto sauces, a ready-to-eat gravy sauce brand launched in Mumbai in 2017.

In an interaction with SMBStory, Kanhai Porecha, Founder, Zissto sauces says,

“The idea of Zissto popped up in my mind when I came back to India from London after completing my BBA. I always wanted to do my own business but couldn’t think of an idea. In London, I observed that I had good ready-to-cook sauces in which I used to saute veggies. However, I couldn’t find anything of that sort in India.”

After coming back from London, Kanhai joined the family business. However, as he wanted to do a market research on ready-to-cook sauces, he left the family business and occupied himself in studying the instant food industry. 

Kanhai found a gap in the segment and thought of starting his own brand. He wanted to introduce authentic Indian cooking sauces. 

Edited excerpts from the interview:

SMBStory: What is Zissto sauces and how do you differentiate the product with other ready-to-cook mixes?

Kanhai Porecha: Zissto sauces is committed to its business of offering people ease and speed in their cooking through its product portfolio which has 14 variants - Makhani, Chettinad, Malvani, Pizza Pasta, Handi, Bhuna Masala, Pav Bhaji, Bengali, Chole, and Hariyali.

The products are available in hygienically sealed 250 gm glass jars with no artificial colours or flavours and have a 12-month shelf life from the date of manufacture. The cooking is done in three easy steps - mix a spoonful in your staple food or add half the bottle to have a restaurant like curry for the guest coming over for dinner. The product can be used in several ways and can be customised as per the need of every individual member in the family. With this product, we can save long hours spent in the kitchen, especially bachelors and working couples. 

A range of international sauces were available in the market when we planned to launch the product. There are a range of Thai, Chinese, Italian, and Mexican sauces available. The blue ocean strategy is where you find a gap in the market and you put a product to fill that. The need for convenient Indian food products needed to be introduced in the market. 

The Indian products available usually had masala variants which took a lot of time to cook or ready-to-eat food which had zero nutritional benefits and did not taste authentic. And, Zissto stepped in to mix convenience with authenticity.

Today, the brand sells 50,000 sauces bottles across Mumbai, Chennai and in online portals like Amazon and Flipkart.

SMBS: How did you start the business?

KP: I initially planned to make mayo-based sauces. However, I realised the implications of using mayo on a daily basis. Mayo sauces have high levels of emulsified fats. So, I decided to use something staple and went back to my roots. 

Onions, tomatoes, and spices are consumed by Indians on a daily basis which form the major quotient of the ingredients. Hence, I decided to come up with a product that should have nutritional benefits of these ingredients and give a taste of home-cooked food. 


Zissto's assorted products

SMBS: What are the major challenges you face in the business?

KP: Initially we faced a lot of rejection. Retailers and distributors didn’t have enough knowledge of the product. After a lot of convincing, free sampling, demonstrations, and information sessions, they showed interest. 

The acceptance started from a local store and society stores who supported us extensively. A lot of other retailers also came forward and showed interest in our products. Then there was no looking back. From local gourmet stores to retail giants like Reliance, Haiko, and Dorabjee’s, all started giving us repeat orders.

We also flourished in HORECA segment where we had tie-ups with a few restaurants and caterers. Currently we are also in the process of making sample batches for exports abroad according to the guidelines provided by food authorities of respective countries.

Another big challenge is to create awareness as well as educate prospective customers about delivering convenience to the gen next. The product’s demand currently is latent and the consumers are not fully aware of the product’s utility. Even the retailers were hesitant initially and people believe that this segment is only for people who want to travel abroad.

SMBS: What are your future prospects?

KP: As we want to grow as a multi-conglomerate business supplying convenience food to the millennials and gen next, we have a lot of growth plans. We have R&D going on where the team is developing more Indian sauces of different flavours and cuisines. We are soon to launch Rajasthani sauce.

We are also coming up with Indian chutneys and looking forward to venture into businesses with people who have a strong hold on distribution channels and can relate to our business goals. In the years to come, we also plan to expand internationally as people around the globe want authentic Indian food in their palette for daily consumption. 

(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)