A banyan tree comes from a small seed which is just few millimeters in length, but its offspring the Banyan Tree is very big compared to the seed. Just like that even for a business to grow big, all that is needed is an idea that shoots out and proliferates into a big business. This is true in the case of Shikha Foods. This Indore-based food and beverage startup has bootstrapped its way in conquering the $50 billion packaged food market.
How Shikha Foods started
It all started with a simple conversation between couples. Abhishek Bardia and his wife Shikha Jain were enjoying a fun conversation during a holiday in Mauritius. During the course of the conversation, they decided to start something of their own. Considering they were passionate about food, they decided to venture into the business of food and beverages.
On returning from the vacation Abhishek, who was a Senior Vice President with IDFC Ltd. in Mumbai, put his papers and both Shikha and Abhishek moved to Indore two months later so that Shikha could continue her CA practice. It was after six months of building and dropping several business plans, that the duo was finally able to start Shikha Foods in Indore. Thirty-four-year-old Shikha an FCA, was a senior partner with Indore-based Jain Mittal & Associates and was also actively involved in her parental business of manufacturing of soya oil. Abhishek, an IIML graduate, had over nine years of corporate experience with Aditya Birla Group, Hexaware Technologies, and IDFC Ltd.
The primary goal of Shikha Foods was to create F&B brands in different categories. Abhishek says that these product categories have been largely unorganized and it is the regional players who dominate the market. But no player like ITC, HUL, or P&G, is present in these segments.
Shikha foods aim to create a differentiated product from the ones existing in the market by focusing on product innovation, especially in terms of raw material, manufacturing process, taste enhancement, hygiene, and quality assurance as opined by their Managing Director Abhishek.
Shikha Foods focuses on the ‘Ready-to-cook’ snacks market with seven product offerings across 18 variants and over 20 SKUs under the brand name ‘Oraya.’ These are pastas and vermicelli made from durum wheat semolina, 3D papads made from whole grain wheat, special shapes papad made of corn and wheat, potato papad, Bikaneri papad, and poha. Shikha Foods is focusing on R&D and sales and marketing. The manufacturing of the products has been outsourced to various manufacturers across the country for different products either completely or in parts.
Shikha Foods launched four products in the Indore market in first week of May 2015. Since then, they have added more products in more geography. As of May 2016, they have seven products, 18 variants, and 20 SKUs. Shikha Foods has a distribution setup of various scales in MP, the Northeast, North Bengal and Sikkim, and Punjab and Haryana. In FY 2016-17, they intend to grow the business volumes by significantly investing in the sales team build up and marketing channels.