On their website, Based in Bangalore online grocery storeproclaim, “We are the same but different.”
Founded by friends Swaroop Mohan and Shweta Thakur,claims it’s not just your regular online grocers – but a brand that cares about what we consume, how we consume, where it comes from and who is affected in the process.
Originally started as Wilderfest in May 2018, a food festival of vegan and sustainable products at the VR Bengaluru Mall, its resounding success saw the festival also held at delhi in December 2018.
“Given the success, we took the event to Delhi with Select City Mall for another fabulous event. As we did more events, we realized that a single pop-up would not create any impact. The issue of availability and accessibility was still unresolved and we needed something more permanent. We toyed with the idea of a store, but Covid came along and then we saw how customer demand came online. That’s how Wildermart’s business model came to be,” said Shweta.
“When we were doing Wilderfest, we met Maneka Gandhi, who was then head of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. At the same time, the department was holding its annual women’s organic mela in Delhi, and she asked us to set up 20 vegan stalls there. Later, when we asked her if she would launch our online business, she was more than happy to do so,” says Swaroop.
And so, animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi launched the vegan and sustainable brand Wildermart on Earth Day April 22, 2021.
Voice for locals
Explaining how they work, Shweta says, “We have a website and Android appboth based on Shopify through which our customers place their orders.
The startup claims to offer more than 2000+ products on the other side 30+ categorieswith products ranging from certified organic fruits and vegetables to Clean Label artisan packaged foods and chemical-free personal and household care products.
“Nearly 80% of our products come from local farmers and manufacturers. Commodities like fruits and vegetables are sourced from certified organic farmers’ organizations (FPOs) in Karnataka. Other products like handmade, artisanal and clean labels are sourced from local producers in the city. And all of our herbal products are sourced from across the country,” says Swaroop.
As a vegan brand, Wildermart is home to a host of plant-based dairy products (cashew milk, ghee, tofu, ice cream, etc.) and meat alternatives (burger patties, jackfruit, keema, etc.). ).
“We are very concerned about the environment. Our products come with minimal plastic and we have a 70% plastic-free product portfolio,” adds Shweta.
“We also ensure that deliveries are made using electric vehicles (EV). We have electric vehicles for hire and we manage the delivery internally. We deliver the same day if the order is placed before a deadline, and the next day if it is posted at this time”, she specifies.
For now, the startup has only one warehouse, in Cheemasandra, Bangalore.
“Currently, we have around 80 local brands on board, including names like Amazin Juice, Goodmylk, Black Baza, Krumb Kraft, Imagine Foods, Blue Tribe and Health on Plants, among others,” Swaroop says.
In the year since its inception, the startup claims to be the favorite brand of 1300+ consumerswith a repetition rate of about 35 percent. On their initial marketing initiatives, Shweta says, “We spent performance marketing in the first three months of launch and acquired the first customers with great success. Social media, emails, customer calls, etc. also complemented all our efforts,” he adds.
What’s so wild about Wildermart?
“Our USP is that we are a healthy and sustainable grocery store. We provide customers with information, curation, and a showcase, making it easier for them to make conscious choices,” says Shweta.
According to her, the grocery retail space in India is fiercely competitive, “but we are clear about occupying a niche in this area.”
“We are very inspired by whole foods as an international brand. In India, while the big players treat this as a category, the smaller brands are niche and siled in their approach. We are one of the few with a holistic view of health and sustainability. We are currently strengthening our supply chain, as this will give us an edge over our competitors,” reveals Swaroop.
Swarovski previously ran a corporate events business in the United Arab Emirates. After quitting his corporate life, he became a serial entrepreneur investing in various businesses across all industries.
Consolidating its portfolio of companies in the field of sustainability, Swarovski is currently focused on researching this emerging industry, understanding the supply chain and other challenges in the online grocery business model.
Shweta began his career as an investment banker at HSBC, Mumbai manage roles ranging from strategy, data analytics to sales and mergers and acquisitions. After a successful banking stint, she moved to bangalore and co-founded a communications agency which he ran as artistic director for nine years.
With a shared vision for a cleaner planet and with a passion for raising awareness for sustainable solutions, the duo decided to come together and start Wildermart using their own funds.
Wildermart currently has a team of 10 members including management and warehouse staff.
Funding and monetization
“We started with an initial capital of around Rs 85 lakh from our own pockets before raising additional funds. Although we did not spend on marketing in the first year of Product Market Fit (PMF), we still acquired customers and achieved a Gross Market Value (GMV) of Rs 35 lakh,” explained Shweta.
Recently, the startup raised $320,000 in angel funding from investors like Sairee Chahal – Founder, Sheroes; Anand Rangaswamyformer CEO, Latam and UK Godrej Consumer Products Ltd; Sreenivasan RamkiGangs T Gangadhar, Sandeep Komaravelly, Anuroop Krishnan, Chetna Soni, Sunainika Singh, Aditya Krishna, Shivanandan Pare, Rohit Bhojaraj, Raj Narayan, Vikram Dani, Sid N, Abhinav Mathur, Shivram Anantharaman, Ashish Dutt and Kedar Gavane.
“Our income is our margin. In our first year of operation, we were mainly doing product market adjustment. The problem statement we went to market to solve was validated by customers. There was an overwhelming response to the solution. We focused on improving the value proposition in the first year and we are ready to gain a strong market share now,” Swarovski affirms.
What awaits us?
A recent report from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Deloitte indicates that the total addressable market (TAM) for subsidized, organic and vegan foods is approximately $11 billion in India.
“We hope to achieve 2% of this TAM over the next five years,” says Shweta.
“The supply chain is the biggest challenge for us. Our suppliers are small with no organized processes or supply chains. All of our products have relatively shorter lifespans making inventory management quite complex. Electric vehicles also present their own set of challenges for the delivery side, as EV technology is always evolving, and we’ve struggled to find utility vehicles with decent driving range,” she comments.
“But we are overcoming the challenges through better planning and maximizing efficiency. We have a very strong partner in MoEVing – our electric vehicle rental partner. A lot is happening on the model and the technical side – like battery swapping, higher range etc. We look forward to continuing to upgrade. This space is going to be super fun for the next few years,” Swaroop adds.
Wildermart is also one of the startups in the Niti Ayog Shoonya program – a campaign to raise customer awareness around zero-emission last-mile delivery. “We’re here with giants like Dunzo, Flipkart, Big Basket, etc. and we’re really proud to have started on the right note with 100% emission-free delivery,” says Shweta.
For the moment, the startup only operates in bangalorebut plans to expand to six other cities including NCR Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad in the next three years.
Companies like Organic World, Organic Mandya, Nature’s Basket, Pure & Sure are other renowned names in space. But Wildermart also has fierce competition from local organic grocery stores like Grameena Angadi and more, apart from other niche brands like OneGreen, Vegan etc
“Given our combined experience and expertise, we particularly like marketing and sales. As for the operational challenges, we have our team of very experienced advisors who help us overcome them,” concludes Swaroop.