Hitesh Rathi and Shrey Kumar. Rathi, a civil engineer, worked in the construction space and did a short stint in Myanmar before setting up the company. Kumar, a mechanical engineer from Delhi College of Engineering and an MBA from ISB, joined six months later as a co-founder.
2) The Trigger
"As Rathi hails from Rajasthan, India's traditional camel state, the concept appealed to him," says Kumar. "Besides, it is not just a local staple. Rathi did extensive research and found that camel milk has several medicinal and health benefits which help the autistic, the diabetic and those suffering from lactose intolerance. He realised that there could be a market out there, although it was largely untapped at the time."
3) The Secret Sauce
Procuring, preserving and transporting are the key drivers in any dairy business. Aadvik collects raw milk from camel farmers across Rajasthan and Gujarat, transports it in fully equipped storage vans and pasteurises the milk at its two plants. As liquid milk perishes quickly, the company sells it either in frozen form or as milk powder to ensure longer shelf life - up to two months for frozen products and nine months for milk powder. "We use the HTST (high temperature/short time) method for pasteurisation so that most of the harmful bacteria are killed but most minerals and nutrients remain intact. In addition, we opt for freeze-drying to make milk powder instead of the spray-drying technique where concentrated milk is subjected to hot air to remove moisture and often loses its food value. We have outsourced this to a Baroda-based company as setting up a milk powder unit needs large capex," explains Kumar.
Aadvik offers a wide range of products, including frozen camel and goat milk and milk powder (both flavoured and unflavoured), cow ghee, a variety of camel milk-based chocolate, food supplement and body care items such as camel milk soap. Products are sold on the company's website, via e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Flipkart and eBay and through physical stores. "We also home-deliver in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru," adds Kumar. The start-up claims to be operationally profitable from the first year.
4) The Road Ahead
Awareness, market size and competition from the likes of Amul, the dairy giant, worry the founders. "Creating awareness is the biggest challenge in India, even though the UK is using a lot of camel milk for their cuppa. Add to that low shelf life, high pricing and a dwindling camel population," says Kumar. However, Aadvik is training camel herders and farmers about the big business potential and focussing on exports. It is also working on new superfoods and will soon launch sugar-free chocolate for the diabetic.