The proverb “penny wise and crazy pound” was a common reminder in Aria Ramsinghani’s home when she founded a United Arab Emirates-based vegan snack start-up, “Kind Lyfe,” alongside her husband and his sister.
Being a gluten-free vegan herself, Ramsinghani only consumed preservative-free products, but tasty, allergen-free snacks were a rarity for her. That was until she started making treats at home with clean ingredients in 2019, and a year later, her hobby took to a family business.
“Kind Lyfe” is a Sharjah-based family business that offers vegan, gluten-free, preservative-free, refined sugar and GMO-free snacks, with its products now sold in UAE supermarkets and online food retailers.
From baker to food entrepreneur
Ramsinghani revealed how the idea of launching a vegan snack brand grew out of her needs and became her first step in entrepreneurship – an important career development for her right after graduation.
“I started making healthy snacks to meet my family’s needs and shared them with relatives and friends as well. Through the feedback we received, my husband Akshay and his sister Ruchika, both of whom have backgrounds in the food industry, discovered that the idea had the potential to become a business.
“Their deeper understanding of the food and beverage industry has helped me turn my passion for healthy cooking into a business, which is my first business after graduation,” she said. declared.
Tip # 1: don’t invest in products because they are cheap; only buy them if they offer real value
Ramsinghani believes in researching before investing or buying anything big or small. This gives her confidence that she made the right decision.
She said: “I believe in quality over quantity when I shop – personally and professionally. There’s no point in investing in things because it’s cheaper; I only invest when it offers real value. When certain goods or services are of good quality and expensive, it will pay off in the long run. “
I believe in quality over quantity when I shop – personally and professionally.
What is the expense savings rule that you follow?
Ramsinghani follows the 60/40 rule to manage his personal finances, which spends 60 percent of his monthly income, while the remaining 40 percent is spent on saving and investing. “My parents taught me that investing is a risk, but it is also a greater risk of not investing.”
Tip # 2: Investments are a risk, but it’s an even greater risk not to invest
“Starting a health conscious own brand vegan brand was the most important decision we made as it forced us to invest primarily in the careful sourcing of our ingredients as we don’t want to compromise on quality.
“We approached investors on the board of directors of our family group, with a pitch for the project of an allergen-free snacking brand. We got a great response because they saw a gap in the market. “
Can you explain the costs of starting a food and beverage business?
The funds that were initially required, in addition to purchasing the ingredients, were used for registration and branding (20,000 Dh), offices (10,000 Dh per month) and branding (2,000 at 5,000 Dh), explained Ramsinghani.
“The other expenses were research and development, product manufacturing, packaging costs depending on the quality of materials and designs, registration fees of around 5,000-10,000 Dh per storage unit. (SKU) according to supermarkets. “
What is the Inventory Management Unit (SKU)?
SKU stands for “inventory handling unit” and as the name suggests, it is a number (usually eight alphanumeric digits) that retailers assign to products to track stock levels internally.
“We also had to pay for the creation and maintenance of websites which involved buying a domain, setting up a payment gateway, the cost of setting up with the website developers and maintenance. website with constant updates of plugins etc. (which amounted to around 20,000 Dh).
“Our website budget is relatively low since we have a range of 10 SKUs. And paid for distribution – distributor margins are typically between 20 and 30 percent, ”she added.
What are the challenges that you have encountered when trying to promote your brand competitively?
Ramsinghani said building a brand was a real challenge and a novelty for them. They wanted their brand to appeal to the customer through the right packaging, but the initial choice had not yielded the desired results.
“When we first launched the brand, the packaging we selected didn’t have any bright colors. It looked great on its own, but we noticed it didn’t stand out on the shelves, which hampered our sales. We fixed this by improving our packaging, adding the color bright green, and immediately saw improved sales. “
When we first launched the brand, the packaging we selected didn’t have any vibrant colors. It looked great on its own, but we noticed it didn’t stand out on the shelves, which hampered our sales.
Tip 3: Know which platforms to invest in to develop your brand among your competitors
Ramsinghani initially opted for a custom platform that slowed down his company’s website and negatively affected the customer experience. This led us to switch to Shopify, which was faster and offered a great customer experience, thus increasing our overall sales.
“What has helped us be successful so far is learning and growing from all of these mistakes,” she added.
Ramsinghani said that working with realistic deadlines is essential to keep the business running smoothly. They faced several bumps in the first few months of launch as they didn’t factor in delays and mishaps.
“Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that no matter what business we choose to start or how much we invest in a business, it’s all about return on investment. “
Tip # 4: Don’t hesitate to cut your losses if a business model doesn’t work
“We have learned to cut our losses if something doesn’t work for us. Our families have always advised us not to get emotionally attached to the business. It has helped us make better decisions by separating personal opinions and feelings from what logically needs to be done.
“For example, if a particular SKU isn’t performing well enough, no matter how much we like it, we’d be willing to cut our losses in the long run by shutting it down, no matter how much time and money was invested. “
Ramsinghani said that when you start a business you almost have to accept that you will make mistakes which could be costly. “We see them from an investment perspective; the lessons we learn are valuable and potentially help prevent bigger and costly mistakes in the future. “