MAVI's is a gut-healthy F&B start-up with an aim to make social drinking healthy. The company offers a range of fermented teas (Kombucha) in different flavors, fizzy fermented beverages, and healthy drinks made from fruits. The idea was conceived by the husband-wife duo of Vikram Mittal and Meenakshi (Mashi), who consider themselves accidental entrepreneurs. After first tasting Kombucha at their friend’s place in the United States, the duo brought back the concept with them to India and started brewing the drink at home. Encouraged by the response they got at a farmer’s market in Mumbai, they decided to take it up further.
Talking about the company, Vikram Mittal, founder, MAVI’s Pantry, said, “MAVI stands for Miraculous and Vital Indulgence. The name arose from a culmination of my wife’s and my name; hence we call it MAVI’s Pantry. The farmers market experience was when we realized that if we want to sell there or explore if Kombucha may become a thing, then we need to get the registration, licenses, and other basic things. We started a proprietary firm and called it MAVI. To begin with, we only made Kombucha. We did not understand that the market would be so niche, but we understood that people liked our product.”
Treat your gut right with a myriad of options
MAVI’s offers a range of products to choose from, which include
● Kombucha- A sweet, tangy, and naturally carbonated fermented tea. It is made by fermenting green/black/oolong tea using a culture popularly known as the SCOBY (Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
● Water kefir - A great vegan alternative to Milk Kefir, it is a fizzy fermented beverage (similar to kombucha) made using Kefir grains which feed on the sugar to produce healthy acids, enzymes, and Vitamin B and C along with the probiotics.
● Tepache- A popular Mexican drink made from ripe pineapples fermented in a water medium to make a tangy refreshing beverage rich in vitamin C and healthy enzymes.
● Beetkvass- A zero-sugar fermented beverage (tastes similar to Kanji) made using beetroot, mustard, ginger, curry leaves, and salt.
● Sauerkraut- Formed as a result of the Lacto fermentation of cabbage in brine water, it is one of the best-known sources of Vitamin C.
● Fermented garlic- Organic garlic is fermented using either honey or brine as a medium.
● Kimchi- A Korean delicacy, made by fermenting cabbage, along with spicy flavors like ginger, garlic, radish, shallots, and red pepper among others.
Making it work with zero business experience
Mittal shared that with no prior business experience, they had to face various challenges along the way. He said, “When we started, there were hardly any stores that sold Kombucha. Anyone who wanted it contacted us directly. We had to go to the farmer’s market to sell our products. Also, since we had no business experience, we had no branding and did not know how to create a product in FMCG. We had to learn everything from scratch, from making the product to bottling to packaging to marketing to accounts.” Starting with around 50 bottles a week, MAVI’s has come a long way in its startup journey.
An alternative to alcohol in social gatherings
Mittal believes that Kombucha can be a healthy alternative to consuming alcoholic beverages at parties and events. He added, “Consumers are now using it as a cocktail and mocktail mixer. But still, people consider it as a probiotic drink that is good for gut health and immunity.”
Consuming MAVI’s fermented drinks offers a host of health benefits that can be enjoyed while mingling at social gatherings. Kimchi is high in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C, Kombucha is rich in probiotics and antioxidants, and Tepache is rich in vitamin C and healthy enzymes, and much more.
A passion for constant experimentation
Being passionate and in the initial phase of their startup journey motivates Mittal to constantly reinvent things. The team keeps experimenting to provide its consumers with something new periodically as well as when the demand comes in. Commenting on this, he said excitedly, “As a founder, there is an innate need to keep finding something new. Our R&D effort goes into developing a recipe that has been around for thousands of years like Kombucha and Kimchi, but we do it in today’s context.”
Conceptualizing flavors for the Indian palate
Informing us of the USP of MAVI’s products, Mittal said that they try to conceptualize their products for the Indian palate, only use organic ingredients and use fresh fruits and cold-pressed juices in their products. He remarked, “Our focus is on an honest product, something that reminds you of a drink your grandmother used to make. Kombucha is not an Indian drink but we want you to taste and like it. For instance, for familiarity, we add mustard seeds to BeetKvass, so that it tastes like Kanji, which is popular in North India and our customers notice the similarity. This is what drives us.”
Targeting the aware consumer
Since fermented foods and beverages are a niche market in India currently, for MAVI’s, the focus is on the consumers who have heard of and tried healthy beverages like Kombucha and are looking for them in India. These include people in the age group of 25 to 45 years who dwell in tier 1 cities, travel abroad, and are open to trying experimenting with new products. Mittal added, “Well-traveled consumers are more receptive to our products. All fermented drinks have a slightly vinegar-like, tarty taste that is liked by wine lovers as well. Also, if you have never heard of Kombucha but your friends have, you are more likely to pick up a bottle at the supermarket.”
Mittal proudly said that consumers find their products well-balanced in taste, they are neither too sweet nor too sour. “Fermented food grows on your palate. The feedback on our products has been great. We survived two years of the pandemic, worked hard, and are doing well. We have a good product and want to grow organically. Focusing on our positives, MAVI’s is working on extending the shelf life of its products and planning to rebrand as well,” he signed off.
Vikram and Mashi envision MAVI’s Pantry as India’s representative for Kombucha and sustainable living. They believe that Kombucha should become a part of our culture, a healthy alternative to all the two-minute solutions.