Supermom Has Started A Healthy Baby Food Brand Using Superfood Millets
‘Am I feeding my baby with the right food?’ A mother asks this heartfelt question time and again. Shruti Ajmera, a mom herself, started Hapup, a baby food brand. Hapup is the home of nutritious, multi-millet Nutri-Mixes which are not only healthy for babies, but also adults.
About the founder
Shruti pursued her Bachelor’s degree from Shree Ram College of Commerce, and Master’s degree in Finance and Investment, from UK. She went on to work in the finance industry, including a venture capital firm, before founding her own startup Rent Set Go — a rental marketplace for tech-based products. After becoming a mom, Ajmera started looking out for baby food options post 6 months of breastfeeding. But as she read the ingredients on the packaged baby food that included sugar, artificial flavours, emulsifiers, chemical preservatives, Shruti could not get herself to feed this to her child. At the back of her mind Ajmera wished to work in baby-catering market space, so she took upon herself to fill this market gap, nutritiously, and introduced her own brand ‘Hapup’ in 2018.
How did it begin
Shruti’s father-in-law, Dr. P Sudershan Reddy, a paediatrician, introduced her to millets; considered to be a superfood. Although very interested in it, the mompreneur wanted to research about millet as a food group, its nutritional value, and other such aspects before building a brand around it. A thorough year was spent for this. Food scientists from National Institute of Nutrition, paediatric nutritionists, moms, and grandmothers were reached out to know everything about millets. Come 2019, the first product by Hapup brand was launched, which in brand essence is — wisdom of traditional Indian recipes married to modern food science.
The mothers are busy and have a multitude of tasks to do, but are constantly worried about their child’s nutrition. The brand intends to meet the needs of the moms of this generation. Hapup wants to make their life simple and tackle a mommy’s worry of feeding their baby with the right food.
Hapup, the nutritious baby food brand
With about 20 SKUs Hapup offers a mix of millets foods; energy bars, healthy snacks like khakhras, and chips, and many more. These products have been priced between Rs. 49 – Rs. 589. The brand claims that every product include one or all of the natural ingredients like jowar, ragi, flaxseed, moringa. Their food items are listed on major e-commerce websites, along with their own, and receive and fulfil orders pan India. Though Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana have been their highest contributors in terms of orders, the founder is humbled by the response they have received from almost 140 cities across India. They also have an offline presence in 10 stores in Hyderabad.
The brand functions on a hybrid model. Hapup’s Millet-Mixes are manufactured in-house at their manufacturing unit in Hyderabad, whereas they work with specialised vendors to manufacture snacks. Like, the khakras are specifically made in Gujarat by a group of underprivileged women. The vendors are provided with ingredients and recipes by a team from Hapup. The raw material is sourced from farmers based in Gujarat, Telangana, and Karnataka, and the brand ensures that all procured material is of good quality. Hapup has team of 10 people who look after the functioning of the brand under different business functions.
About the market
Hapup has positioned itself to be a healthy food brand that can be consumed by any person older than 6-months of age. The Millet-Mixes are used to make porridges for babies, but can also be mixed into a batter to make millet-dosas, millet-idlis, millet-pancakes, and more. Shruti says that there are no added flavours in any of their products, so moms can make a savoury dish according to her child’s preferences and tastes.
Speaking about competition, Shruti says,
“Our USP is versatility. Many brands are coming up with millet products, and that proves an increasing demand in the market. Also, India is a huge and diverse country, when it comes to food preferences, so more the number of players that come up in the market a healthy innovation shall be promoted in this segment.”
Funding and future planning
Bootstrapped with an initial investment of Rs. 1 lakh, Hapup is self-funded from the revenue it generates. With that, Shruti won a grant for Agri Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Plus the brand also received a few grants after becoming a part of the Women Startup Program by IIM Bangalore and IIM Visakhapatnam.
The boss mom is on a mission to educate people about the importance of consuming millets, through her brand, at a global scale. The UN has declared year 2023 as the ‘Year of Millets’, and Hapup is incubated at the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) which is recognised by the UN.
Surely, ‘I Boss Mom’
Shruti believes that managing her personal and professional life wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her husband, family in-law, and her parents a privilege that not many are fortunate enough to have. Also, receiving guidance from many other amazing female entrepreneurs was a great help in her entrepreneurial journey.
“I try not to let the ‘mom guilt’ take over me so as to maintain a balance and focus only on one particular thing at a time. You take a call on what you want to focus on, and once you have clarity the things start falling into place. Every mom does what is best for their baby, so if you’re pursuing your career then that is good, as you are being your child’s role model. If you are a stay-at-home mom or have taken a career break, you are doing it as you feel that it’s best for your baby. So respect your decision and just love the process!”