After a decade in the jewellery business, Anuj Rakyan (ISC 1997) made a radical shift to the health and nutrition space, launching a brand of cold-pressed juices in India.
Health, nutrition and fitness have always been Anuj Rakyan’s passions. Last year, he realised that this passion could also be a business opportunity. “When I started my career, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do but what was meant to be done. Like every good Indian son, I studied Commerce to become an investment banker in the US, but I kept flitting; first, brand consultancy in the US, and then the jewellery business,” he says.
What commonality do jewellery and juice share? Anuj explains two main ones — first, both sectors are unorganised. His primary task in both was to build a brand, form a professional team and streamline operations. Second, the target audience and entry point to the family is primarily women in both cases.
Anuj quit the jewellery business overnight, without knowing what he wanted to do next. That’s when he realised how important his friend circle and networks were. His friends knew him and could provide guidance in the months to come. “There are so many overachievers in the Cathedral network, so you get great professional advice.”
Conceptualising to launching Raw Pressery took six months. The learning curve has been steep and Anuj’s biggest challenge was people management. “I started alone and now, a year from the birth of the idea, we are 65 people. I realised the first 20 people will make or break your company.”
We talk about the health F&B market in India and Anuj says that people have started becoming aware of what’s good for them, but in the organised market, there are few products that are as good as the raw produce. This is where he saw a business opportunity. “In the last 10 years, health has become cool. We used to boast about how little we slept and how much we drank, but those same people now talk of being vegetarian and waking early for yoga before work.”
However, the beverage segment is still lacking. “There’s unhealthy, less healthy and more healthy.” For example, in an unhealthy Tetra Pak of orange juice, there’s less than five per cent of the real fruit, he says. “How can anything in a cardboard box with a shelf life of six months be considered fresh?”
‘Anything that’s good for you can go bad’ reads a sign on his factory walls.Cold-pressed juices, such as those from Raw Pressery, are 100% juice without any added water, made under sanitary conditions with machinery that preserves nutrients. Doctors and dietitians have been consulted for the percentages of various vegetables used to provide different benefits. Sensory evaluation teams have helped deliver on taste, resulting in a product that arrives at your doorstep the same morning it was made.
What is the Indian consumer’s perception of health? “People think being healthy has become complicated,” Anuj states. “Nutritionists, fitness trainers, dermatologists — there’s often conflicting advice for the same objective and this has led to confusion, which leads to misconceptions.” According to him, ‘calories’, ‘sugar’ and ‘fat’ have become bad words because of incomplete or wrong information about them.
What does the future hold? Anuj wants to settle down before he loses any more hair! On a serious note, his mission is to scale up and be “India’s first honestly healthy food and beverage company”… More flavours and smoothies, and branching out to different cities in India and Asia. He also intends to move into the food sector with unique products that do not require added preservatives or chemicals. Anuj has proved that anyone with a new, genuine idea can juice it!
– Anushka Shivdasani Rovshen (ISC 1997)