Aarti & Pooja Kothari – Catering to a niche food market

Foodbury, a unique online retail store that specialises in selling health foods, particularly gluten-free food products, is the brainchild of sisters Pooja and Aarti Kothari. Pooja’s son was just a little over two years old when he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an auto immune disorder triggered by gluten. This event became the catalyst for the sisters to establish this venture.

Aarti shares, “Both Pooja and I always wanted to do something on our own. We happen to be close, so this seemed the way to go. There was a lack of gluten-free products and awareness in the Indian market. Pooja was then editor of a business magazine and I held a marketing job with a telecom company. We quit those and started Foodbury in 2011.”

Foodbury has become the answer to the prayers of numerous gluten-intolerant individuals as well as parents of children with Celiac Disease. Aarti shares, “Our business has a strong social aspect. We are building a platform for people bound by a common cause but who are struggling to find a community. We have not done any aggressive marketing; rather the concept has caught on through word of mouth. Our strength is the gluten-free section but we are gradually building a health food line.”

From the outset, Pooja and Aarti were sure that they wanted to have an online store. Aarti reveals, “The digital format was very exciting for us as it was a completely new field for both of us. We took about five months to get all government clearances and have our portal up and running. Gluten-free food is a very niche segment of the food market, so we wanted to operate on a pan India level. Adopting the digital format made this possible.”

The duo is very conscious about building an efficient and happy team. “We are completely okay with mistakes as long as it is a new mistake each time”, says Pooja. “Everybody does everything. Delivery boys upsell. Customer care executive packs parcels. Store manager does deliveries. That’s the only way to ensure there is respect for the work other people do”, explains Aarti.

What makes Foodbury different from any multi-brand store is the fact that they take a personal interest in each of their customer’s needs. Aarti shares, “We are bound by a cause. We help in menu planning and even source fresh food products like gluten-free cakes, donuts, samosas, and so on. We are proud of the fact that those who associate with us once tend to stay with us.”

Aarti believes that the decision to work with her sister has been a boon because they share a perfect understanding and implicit trust. She opines that being women entrepreneurs has its pros and cons. “Certain people assume that we are into some sort of lifestyle business, just because we are two women business owners. However the advantage of being a woman entrepreneur is that we have inherent empathy and social skills that help us connect better with our customers.”

“We are building the business category by category. Soon our general health business line should take off. That’ll have something for everyone,” says, Aarti
Aarti’s message to aspiring women entrepreneurs is, “The freedom that running your own business gives you can be misleading because eventually you become a prisoner to your own assessment of yourself because it’s your show. So you’re on the job 24*7.”

At WEBO Power, we believe that Pooja and Aarti have successfully tapped into a niche and growing market and with tenacity, empathy and creativity built a brilliant enterprise.

Interviewed By: Supriya Mathur, Team WEBO Power
Posted On: July 23, 2013

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