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If India can import dark chocolate, why can’t we sell imli sweets abroad, says this startup founder?

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  • Brother-sister duo Vinay and Raksha Kothari founded their small candy startup in 2018 and began supplying the stock to stores and opening micro-units in nearby villages.
  • It recently won a $20,000 excluding stock exchange and $100,000 AWS Credits in Amazon’s Startup Accelerator Program.
  • The digital startup claims to generate ₹2.5 crore revenue per month and plans to become a ₹500 crore company within the next five years.

In January 2018, based in Bengaluru Vinay Kothari was hiking in the mountains of the Western Ghats when he came across a local vendor selling uniquely delicious jackfruit candy bars. The candy bars are made by a local cooperative, which is very popular in that area.

Shocked by the unique taste of the candy bar, Kothari had his ‘eureka’ moment and GO DESI was born. After the trek, he and his sister Raksha Kothari set up a stall at a flea market selling local products from all over North Karnataka.

Their products received a huge response, as they sold out in just a day and a half in a stall reserved for three days. The brother-sister duo founded their small candy startup in 2018 and began supplying the stock to stores and opening micro-units in nearby villages.

Coin and metha

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Now it has become a digital ecommerce brand that sells sweetsmints and
meeta. In 2019, GO DEsi – Desi PopZ candy bar became the fastest selling candy on Amazon. Apart from its tamarind and cane sugar (imli) candies, it now sells fruit snacks, lollipops and sour candies.

GO DESi has the capacity to produce more than one lakh Desi Popz per day with the help of more than 70 women. About 95% of the total workforce employed at GO DEsi’s production units is female. It also supports six small female entrepreneurs and has generated 117 jobs and ₹1.24 crore for rural areas India.

It has created its market space in various states in India. “Our product is sold all over the country, but the main domination is from Telangana, AP, Karnataka, Maharashtra,” said Kothari.

The digital startup currently claims to generate ₹2.5 crore in revenue per month. It aims to become a 500 crore company within the next five years, Kothari said.

Since Indians like to grab a sweet after a meal, it has a huge potential market for confectionery, such as candy. The candy market in India was valued at $1.6 billion in FY20 and is expected to grow to $3.7 billion in FY26.

GO DESi goes global

However, it plans to take these unique Indian flavors overseas. It recently won a $20,000 excluding stock exchange and $100,000 AWS Credits in Amazon‘s startup accelerator program after undergoing a one-month mentorship. GO DESi plans to use this grant to expand its presence in the global market.

“We want to go global because the West not only has a huge Indian diaspora abroad, but also curious and interested in desi flavors from India. If dark chocolates can be imported to India from abroad, why can’t our desi flavors then not go abroad?” said Kothari.

The startup will target the UK, Western Asia and US candy markets, he added.

Creating India’s Most Loved FMCG Brand

GO DEsi claims that the brand is 100% traditional and natural. The candies are made from fruit and use cane sugar instead of refined sugar. The brand offers a wide range of sweets from Desi Popz to Desi Meetha and mints in various flavors such as spicy pineapple, tangy lemon, amla bytes and more.

“We ship nearly 250 orders daily and have received more than 1.5 lakh customers annually. We are aware that Indians have become more health conscious, which is why our products contain no added refined sugars, preservatives or artificial colors and undergo standardized testing. You get real fruit in these candies,” Kothari told https://londonbusinessblog.com/ India.

The average order value of GO DESi is less than ₹500. As brands across India took a hit during the pandemic, Kothari said GO DEsi saw sales surge.

“Because we have a digital-first approach, we saw a boost in sales during the pandemic as we have a strong supply chain. During the pandemic, people became more health conscious. But our ultimate vision is to create India’s most beloved FMCG brand, produced, produced and branded on the farm,” said Kothari.

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