The young Ms Deeksha S Kumar is the Managing Director of Sparsh Foods India Pvt. Limited is based in Bengaluru, Karnataka, a state home to exotic spices around which a massive industry of spices, condiments, and masala thrives. A trusted household name, Sparsh Foods is being steered by the young woman entrepreneur to bring more zing and taste into your lives! Read on to know more about this spicy, tangy business.
What were the inspiration and objectives behind launching Sparsh Foods for you?
In 2006, Sparsh Foods (then known as Shivaprasad Industries) was started by my father, an ex-army man. He had a dream to make it big in business one day and was determined to do so. The constraint was financial liquidity. Nevertheless, it did not deter him from getting spices ground and supplying to other companies. His early days of struggle and passion for becoming a respectable entrepreneur is etched deeply in my memory and consciousness. As a daughter, I thought it was my duty to support him and make his dream come true in a bigger and better way. So I quit my IT job and joined him in 2014 at the very young age of 22. As I started understanding the business dynamics, I sort of started liking it and could see great potential in it.
Sparsh Food's presence in the Indian market and abroad has grown from strength to strength since its inception 15 years ago. What are the attributes that contributed to the success of the venture?
For us, Sparsh Foods is a passion, a vision and not just a business that we look at to serve pecuniary gains. It’s my father’s dream, and a lot of hard work and personal sacrifices have been invested into it to make the venture thrive. Masala is a mass-based product, and the company has grown organically over a period of time where quality is a significant factor of the brand’s credibility. What makes the Sparsh ‘Premium’ special is the unique ‘Flavour Lock’ process incorporated during packaging that helps the products retain their tantalising flavour and aroma for longer shelf life. Also, the Indian market is price sensitive, and we have been mindful of it. Today, we have a vast network of 600-700 distributors, who are the backbone of making Sparsh a popular name in the market. We are an ISO 9001:2008 and 22000:2005 accredited company that authenticates our tag line -Taste for Purity!
How is Sparsh enhancing the culinary experience for women at the core of the family and its well-being?
Our USP is based on two major factors, i.e., quality and taste of the products on which we have a constant focus. We have honed our talent in ‘mixology’ of spices and kept the taste very homely, which is an art learnt through experience that makes our masalas authentic and pure. They are being picked from store racks increasing penetration of our product into many homes and still growing. I feel proud to say that today Sparsh, true to its name, has touched many lives.
What did it take to build a robust product portfolio and the strengths of this business, your inputs to it and your experiences?
Our focus has been on developing a range of products, market penetration and expansion of export business. Masala is a mass product and an intuitive business. When I joined Sparsh for nearly two years, I observed the working systems in the organisation. I realised that we started as an SME firm where internal processes and systems were unorganised, and branding never existed in the entire business gamut. So I started taking the reins of the business in my hands and began product-based corporatising of internal structures, streamlined processes, made HR more robust by hiring a highly experienced workforce, many of who come from other top companies of the same industry, leveraged the firm to company standards, focused on advertising and improved branding quality by bringing on board Dia Mirza as brand ambassador that got many eyeballs and raised respectability and easy identity of Sparsh. I am glad that the thorough revamping of the system paid good dividends registering 40-50 per cent YoY growth figures.
Traditionally, masala making is a cottage industry that employs many women providing them with socio-economic security. So, how is Sparsh leveraging the lives of women associated with it?
Our modern automated factory is located in the rural outskirts of Bengaluru, where 60 percent of the workforce are women and the rest 40 percent are men. Most of them are country folks who are ignorant and do not know anything about insurance. We have been aggressively pursuing to ensure our employees ensure their security. I have primary CSR goals for serving the people of my home state- Karnataka and have prepared a blueprint that focuses on development which I hope will be unveiled in due course of time.
As a woman entrepreneur, what were the challenges that you overcame to set milestones for Sparsh and the achievements after that?
It has always been that sons become the natural heirs to the business and shoulder responsibilities of the family. I wanted to step into the same shoes and give my parents a better business beyond their imagination and be a suitable successor. This is the main reason to join Sparsh. Being so young and a girl was a disadvantage in a hardcore Male Dominant industry. I faced many internal and external challenges like industry ground knowledge, not receiving the same
seriousness as they would do to a male head. There was resistance when I tried to bring order in the haphazard system and equally tough competitors to tackle. Today, I am the only lady in a sales team of 250. I have made a respectable place for myself with my knowledge and staying connected to the grassroots by travelling extensively on direct market visits, which is essential to establish a sound foundation for the business to stand on and prosper. Most importantly, one must overcome self-doubt, which is half the battle own. I follow this golden rule.
What are the vision and future plans that you have for Sparsh?
It will take us another few more years to grow as a pan India brand. However, the last seven years has been the best teacher for me, who gained me tremendous experience while looking after sales and marketing, HR, distribution network, advertising and branding, and expansion plans. In the past couple of years, we have also stepped into other states like parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana and Andamans, etc., and are extensively having expansion plans for Sparsh. So it is just a matter of time that the brand would make a splash all over the country.
What feelings does Sparsh evoke in you for having come this far in the business?
As an individual, I am not an extrovert, but when I meet people, they compliment me, saying that they wish their daughter to grow up to become like me for the courage, hard work, robust decision-making, and handling of people and business while staying grounded. I take this as a genuine compliment and give a fillip to my desire to be a role model for young women. Having said this, I wish to get Sparsh global recognition and rise to the same league of India’s top multi-national masala brands, for which I believe it is essential to take calculated risks. I am ready to do so for Sparsh. The competition is tough, and so is my resolve. We started from scratch and have come a long way, and there is yet a long way to go. However, I am optimistic about Sparsh’s success and future.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today