India is on an adventure ride from a business and startup standpoint. Many market disruptive startups were born in the last decade, and the foundation for a strong business environment has been laid-down since then. Aashadi Ventures is amongst those disruptive business models that have created history in Indian and especially among Maharashtrian people.
This social venture is established with an aim to gather and capitalize like-minded Marathi people and fund business ideas that have the potential to create an impact. We had an interview with the team, where they described their journey and vision. Let us begin with the chat we had…
What is the concept?
Aashadi Ventures is the first and only social startup started online by like-minded people. We are not social service or ngo We are working on an innovative concept called to build an accessible platform for doers. It is a fusion concept. Where like-minded people come together to share their time and resources doing some positive & rewarding projects while also maintaining
social consciousness. As a social startup, we work on social capital, social experimentation, social innovation, and social returns.
It all started with a question, “Is it possible to form a company of like-minded people on a social platform?” on Quora (Marathi), a social platform. It received an overwhelming response in just a month, and a group of like-minded people entered into a never-before-joint venture. The title “Aashadhi” represents the leaderless & passionate Wari (वारी) of Maharashtrian people.
Aashadhian’s Ideology: Startups are not merely for making money…
Generally, career, employment, or entrepreneurship is laser-focused on making money. And we are all doing it already in our respective occupations, how-so-ever. But while running after money, we miss living our life. It is common for a high-ranking official or an ordinary housewife to say I’m missing life and yet no one knows what that exactly means?
what we all miss is passion.
There is no pleasure like creation. Create something and share it with the world. Lijjat Papad is one such example. Started with a very insignificant thing like papad and now connecting millions of people and exporting to more than 60 countries.
It does not matter how small and trivial job you do. What matters is one’s approach, passion, and pursuance.
‘Aashadhi’ teaches us that there is more pleasure in the journey than the destination.
All said and done, we must agree that it takes a lot more than just KARMA to shape something in a proper structure like a company or entrepreneurship. And most of us hate those statutory compliances, paperwork, and legalities. That is where Aashadhi steps in, providing an incubator platform for innovators. Think of an idea, add your passion and build a solution. We will take care of the rest.
That’s what Aashadhi Ventures is, open entrepreneurship.
Who were the founding members and contributors?
Vinay Samant, Vinod Kawle, Sandeep Karhadkar, Prakash Karande, Sunita Talwalkar, and Alka Darade are some of the founding members of Aashadhi Ventures. Now there are 90 social shareholders of Aashadhi Ventures. We have raised capital of 23,00,000/- until now and we are aspiring for social capital of 1,00,00,000/- through 1,000 shareholders. We prefer passionate and active shareholders and call it our Social Capital.
How does Aashadhi Ventures function?
Aashadhi operates in 2 different modes:
■ We provide an incubator platform for passionate projects. One has to suggest an idea, propose an investment plan and call for partners. If a project gets onboard, Aashadhi takes care of the paperwork, taxation, GST, licenses and whatsoever is required. One can focus on the idea and its execution. Aashadhians raise investment & help in building the marketplace.
■ Aashadhi doesn’t invest in any project. But it has a share capital of shareholders. So Aashadhi, at its core, is working on a project where it can avail splendid rural & traditional products in urban areas at a reasonable price and assured quality. The project is branded as Gawran.
Recently under Gawran Brand, we are working on a native variety of rice, which is found in costal region of Konkan by the name of Walai or Walay. Walai rice is a brown rice variety. This rice has the ability to provide energy & regulate bowel movements. Regular consumption stabilises the blood sugar level & slows down the ageing process. It is a natural source of Vitamin B1. That is why this variety is considered as the best native rice variety. The rich microfiber in this rice bran improves digestion, cures constipation. As rice passes through the digestive tract, it absorbs toxins from the stomach, liver, and intestines and excretes them in the faeces. This is a natural process of purification of the digestive system. … Despite this, due to low yields and losses, “Walai” is lagging behind in the race of hybrid varieties. This grows taller and wholesome nutrition quickly descends into its panicles. Thus panicles become heavy and break. As a result, most of its produce is lost. Therefore farmers has dropped this variety and moved to hybrid once…
We at Aashadhi are working on rejuvenation of this variety and providing Fair Price to growers. We are building health conscious marketplace with “Fair Trade” principals. There are many rural splendours like walai awaiting fair marketplaces..
“You can explore and order natural splendid Gawran products online at http://aashadhi.com/shop/. Use coupon code “swiftnlift” to receive 10% discount. Shop Now!”…
Tell us about your success story
We at Aashadhi Ventures have worked on various projects like coding for kids, oxygen concentrator & Virgin Coconut Oil…
While Aashadhi began to expand its footprint, we wanted to start something that can be tested against our ideologies. Though following passion sounds very interesting, the first part “knowing your passion” is itself very tricky. It is very easy for an artist, that most of us are not.
“So what’s my passion, and how to follow it?”
It starts with karma. Insted of reading books, knowing ideas and listening to motivational speeches, just start working on something. Something that may be very insignificant or even meaningless, but pursued consistently will lead you to the realization (अनुभूती). You never know unless you do it. Remember the story of “Valya the robber who became Valmiki Rishi by chanting MARA MARA, that transformed into RAMA RAMA when chanted consistently”. He is one of our idols in Aashadhi.
We all have many ideas. And none of them actually come into being. Because we never try them. But we decided to pursue seriously. One of our fellow participants, Vinay Samant, has been following Virgin Coconut Oil for more than ten years. He provided all the technical details and SWOT analysis. We decided to start there.
Most entrepreneurs start with their own manufacturing. Entrepreneurs think manufacturing is the ultimate creativity. They raise loans, invest all resources and get exhausted till the product becomes ready. They generally realize this when it’s too late… because he is the lone starter… … But we were not. 18 people came together to share this concept of VCO. India’s 1st VCO is made from coconut milk without any chemical process. No compromise on quality. And still affordable. We decided to make this happen, that’s Akshat: Virgin Coconut Oil Extracted From Coconut Milk.
- Akshat VCO is very rich in essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants. It helps in reversing ageing effects. It enhances internal strength & immunity. It contains MCTs that are super-rich in ketones, that prevent neuron degeneration & improve memory. The effects of VCO on Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s are very promising.
- Akshat VCO Increases good cholesterol & decreases bad cholesterol. MCTs & ketones provide relief to people with stressful lifestyles like software developers, sales people & and managers, from stress and anxiety.
- Polyphenols in Akshat VCO alleviate swelling of joints and several other inflammatory markers & provides long lasting curative effects on joint pain &Arthritis.
- Being very light weight Akshat VCO easily penetrates deep in skin and offers a long lasting moisturising effect. Anti-fungal & antibacterial properties enhance skin & hair health to provide natural touch and tone.
- Akshat VCO is the perfect medicinal oil for massaging infants. It penetrates deep into the skin & scalp and strengthens the bones & muscles of infants. It helps in improving the immune system. Anti-fungal & antibacterial properties form a protective shield around infants also taking care of rashes, scars due to nappies etc. Children get a restful sleep thus completing their overall growth. Just like infants, Akshat VCO is also an excellent medicinal oil for postpartum mothers for faster recovery & immunity.
*Akshat VCO should not be given orally to kids younger than 3 yrs.
Akshat” is a 100% pure virgin coconut oil extracted from fresh coconut milk using the centrifuge method. This is the traditional and natural process of separating cream from milk by agitation. No chemicals or external heat is used. All the nutrition & goodness in coconut milk is obtained in the oil as it is. Akshat VCO is the only artisan grade virgin oil with bioactive lauric acid, polyphenols & ketones.
The Team Performance
There are many advantages of social entrepreneurship. Capital gets shared, so the risk. The spectrum of ideas is widened. Experiences get multiplied. And most importantly the market spread is large. Though one serious threat may exist – “OBJECT” becomes blurred. So many opinions and ideas can drive you crazy and away from what needs to be done..
This is where “Aashadhi Philosophy” helped us. “startups are not merely for making money, but to explore your abilities” …
We all were earning enough out of our salaries or respective occupations. So we wanted to experience something beyond just money… a dream … where we are no more employees but employers … our own manufacturing unit! That too “whole coconut processing”, export oriented!
The price of this unit ranges between 50 lakh to 2 crores. We decided to raise this fund from SALES. So the market will be ready and demanding before getting into its manufacturing. Sometimes making something is easy. But taking it to millions of people and convince them to buy is the key part, where we all get stuck. Isn’t it?? So we decided to build our own marketplace. We raised 13 lakhs within 18 promoters, just enough to source two batches of VCO extracted as per our specifications. And we shared responsibility of selling our own product within our 1st and 2nd circle of friends and relatives.
The idea was simple. Each cycle of Akshat is giving us good profit margins. Three cycles and Akshat is on its own. Does not need fund backup. And 25 cycles to enter our manufacturing! So, the target was set, milestones were decided and we started our Akshat Wari!
This is where our veteran sales wizard Sanju Pai started tricks from his magic box and we learned about a new concept “2nd Identity”. We all have our own 1st identity generally determined by one’s education and occupation. But will people listen if you are talking about something out of your core expertise? YES. Provided you have deep knowledge and personal experience. Sanju Kaka personally tried Akshat VCO himself and for his dog. Observed results. His wife is from a medical background, tested various things in the laboratory and once Sanju Kaka is sure about results, you just can’t stop him.
“Empowerment of Partners” was most important idea presented by Prakash Karande, having experience in ice cream business. His strategy was practially backed by Visharad Petkar who took 1st authorised shopee of Akshat VCO..
Sunita Mam’s vision about user experience shaped the product and its handling, Laxman Prabhu sir was keen on language and design. Ashish helped in label design with his experience in a blender. Kamlesh’s experience in the packaging was crucial. With all this, there were so many small n big & boring n stupid things that needs to be done when you develop a product. Whole team was always involved with all its strengths. Series of meetings on zoom and WhatsApp group is our virtual office… And today??
Today, Akshat is a self-sustained product with 30 shops and growing. More than 8,000 happy customers. Now we are planning 100 shoppees and & sales partners. Also looking out for concept partners who will JV with us for multiple verticals of Akshat.
“Aaah, Marathi people can’t do business” … “Marathi people can’t work together as a team.” … “Once employed you can’t get into entrepreneurship!” … “Employees can’t follow passions.” … “Trust can’t be build online…”
Do you hear such things a lot now a days?? Share our story with them. Let them know, we are making exceptions…
We all spend a lot of time deciding about our destination. Board a train. It will surely take you to amazing places. Take experience. That will enrich you. Aashadhi Express is waiting for new passengers.
Sushil Fartade (Pune) : 95299 23725 | Prakash Karande (Navi Mumbai) : 91724 01231 | Sanju Pai (Mumbai) : 96190 39484 | Sunita Talwalkar (Dombivli) : 99695 65713 | Visharad Petkar (Nagar) : 92253 02038
WEBSITE : https://aashadhi.com/