Lil’Goodness, a startup that produces and sells a range of healthy and nutritious snacks primarily for kids and teenagers was founded in Bengaluru in 2018 by Harshavardhan, an alumnus of IIM Calcutta along with nutrition expert Pariksha Rao.
In an exclusive interaction with Claus from Food Infotech, Harshavardhan S., Founder of Lil’Goodness shares about himself and his business, including his decision to become an entrepreneur himself after having served in the corporate sector for close to a decade. He also shared more details on the range of healthy snack offerings that are manufactured and offered by his company for the consumers, which cater primarily to kids and teenagers, including describing in detail about the role that startups can play in creating an emotional connect with the consumers by offering them with access to healthy foods at affordable prices and a lot more.
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you started with Lil’Goodness?
Having worked in the health and wellness space for around 8 years, starting up Tata Health I realized that a key reason for lifestyle disorders as you grow up is poor nutrition and lifestyle at an early stage. Junk eating especially during snacking is a major contributor. Looking around the retail shelves or even online, there were limited options for kids compared to whole shelves and aisles dedicated to kids food and nutrition in European and US stores. The potential for creating impact is huge – this is the kind of scale that I have seen at Tata, where every business was created to impact 10s and 100s of millions of people. The passion to create impact for 100 million kids and their families is what drove me to start Lil’Goodness. As fathers, we felt that our kids should eat better growing up.
2. Would you tell us a little on your recently released range of product offerings? Added to that, please tell us a bit more on how these products can impact the health/immunity of children?
Lil’Goodness has been the first one to roll out an extensive range of gut-health-friendly snacking options for kids such as prebiotic milkshakes, cookies, etc. Kids usually resort to consuming junk foods to satiate hunger pangs and cravings in between meals. Such poor food choices lead to diseases like obesity, obesity, etc. By offering nutritious foods in tasty formats, we aim to develop the habit of eating right among kids and teenagers.
Lil’Goodness, has pioneered prebiotic chocolates, supergrain teff based puffs and prebiotic milkshakes. The prebiotic chocolates contain fibres extracted from vegetarian sources and aid growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Available in 9 different variants, including 4 variants sweetened with palm jaggery, Lil’Goodness was the first to launch a premium, dark chocolate with 56% cocoa and prebiotics at a price of INR 20. The products are created with premium ingredients, use real cocoa butter instead of vegetable oil used by other brands at this price point. The palm jaggery sweetened prebiotic chocolates are made using single origin, Indian cocoa sourced ethically from farms in Karnataka.
The extruded snacks (puffs) contain nearly 50% of supergrains teff and quinoa, which provide essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, Vitamin C, Zinc, 12g of proteins in 100g while containing zero cholesterol, trans fats and zero preservatives. This is a first of its kind snack which uses the super grain teff, one of the tiniest grains in the world, well known for its use with endurance athletes because of its high iron and protein content, while having a low glycemic index making it a balanced tasty snack that kids and adults can munch on anytime. With an affordable pricing that starts at INR 30 for a 30g pack, the super grain puffs are designed to bring premium healthy snacking to the mass consumer segments.
Lil’Goodness also launched India’s first prebiotic milk shake, with 40% less added sugar compared to other brands in the market. The product contains prebiotic fibres, also contains one serving of oats and therefore functions as a complete breakfast solution.
3. With the current generation in India becoming conscious of their health and well-being, in what ways can the recently established startups play a vital role to cater to this population segment by ensuring their accessibility to healthy foods?
The pandemic, lockdown and the economic uncertainty has shifted consumer lifestyles, routines and behaviours. This has triggered the search for mindful eating, comfort and familiarity, attributes that the snacking occasion is well-positioned to offer consumers. As COVID restrictions ease, foods that support their emotional well-being will continue to be in demand. Associating brands with moments of joy will resonate with consumers; maximizing taste, indulgence and enjoyment will be essential in driving usage. In the short term, consumers will focus on affordability and value when buying snacks. Larger pack sizes have seen increased demand for in-home consumption – especially in metro cities. However, as consumers grow conscious of their snacking habits, smaller packs can help consumers reduce the guilt of snacking. We have validation of this, our smaller premium packs priced at INR 20-30, in combo packs are best sellers in our portfolio. These smaller packs, while packed with nutrition, through portion control restrict consumption of sugar/ unhealthy carbs.
We have also seen a rush towards supplements, largely driven by COVID and rising consciousness about the need for balanced nutrition. However, we expect that beyond niche areas, regular food-based nutrition enrichment will supersede supplementation. There will be specific gaps such as male/ female wellness which will be driven by use of supplements.
4. As staying healthy and consuming nutritious food has become a priority post COVID-19, what key aspects in product development has Lil’Goodness been focussing on over the last couple of years?
Lil’Goodness has been constantly innovating products to address the nutrition gaps of Indian families with kids. Over the past couple of years, product innovation has been one of the key differentiators for us. Lil’Goodness is the first brand in India to launch gut health friendly prebiotic dark chocolates. We have also launched an extensive range of gut-health-friendly snacking options for kids such as prebiotic milkshakes, cookies. Vitamin B12 jaggery powder, supergrain teff based products are results of our product innovation and intense research and development. We use supergrain teff as key ingredient in our products – teff is naturally rich in Iron, zinc, Vitamin C and Protein – all essential to growth and immunity. All our products are fortified with vitamins, essential minerals – critical to cognitive, physical growth and immunity boosting for families with kids.
5. Recently, Lil’Goodness has launched zero-added Sugar Prebiotic Cocoa Powder for the first time in India. Please tell us more about the same.
Lil’Goodness has recently introduced Prebiotic Cocoa Powder with zero added sugar for the first time in India. Made of natural prebiotic fibres and 100 percent antioxidants-rich real cocoa, the gut and heart health-friendly Prebiotic Cocoa Powder will make popular homemade recipes of dark chocolates, chocolate desserts, smoothies, chocolate mousse pudding healthfully delectable for families especially for the kids. The Prebiotic Cocoa Powder contains prebiotics from natural sources, antioxidants from cocoa for heart health and immunity. While Prebiotics improve gut health, aid in digestion and improve absorption of minerals and vitamins, cocoa which is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, promotes heart health and fights inflammation.
The product was launched in collaboration with nearly 600 home bakers through a collaboration called #100BakingDreams. Through this competition, we collaborated with these home bakers to create interesting recipes with the Lil’Goodness cocoa powder.
6. From where have you been sourcing the ingredients required for your recently released range of products?
Fat reduced cocoa powder, one of the major ingredients of our recently launched Prebiotic Cocoa Powder has been derived from ethically grown cocoa sourced from Ghana and naturally derived Fructo-oligosaccharides.
7. Can you let us know more on how you’ve been leveraging technology to connect with your consumers over the past couple of years?
Lil’Goodness from day one has been an omni-channel kids and food nutrition brand which leverages the best of online and offline retail eco-systems. In fact, the snacking category demands focus on digital as well as conventional retail. Building a strong brand proposition in the kids and food nutrition category requires consistent efforts towards developing consumer awareness, shaping their opinion, influencing choices and ensuring effective brand recall. With crisply-designed, targeted, clutter-breaking and algorithm-friendly content backed by data and insights, a brand can achieve the desired mindshare of its target consumer segment. While the brand-engagement window in offline retail is extremely limited, it gives the consumers the opportunity to experience a particular brand and its products through trials. Therefore, digital engagement is a key pillar for Lil’Goodness to connect with our customers.
8. Are you working on any product innovations currently? If yes, please let us know a little on the same.
We are working on a range of chocolate products with alternative natural sweeteners that reduce the overall sugar content in chocolates, while maintaining the fibre content. We are also working on a range of baked snacking products, which are made with all natural ingredients, high on protein and iron.
9. Would you let us know more on any of your recent collaborations in the development of your range of products?
We have tied up with Sikkim Government’s State-owned brand, Sikkim Supreme for introducing a range of snacks. Under this agreement, the company will roll out an assortment of prebiotic chocolates, Vitamin B12 Jaggery and extruded snacks, besides creating exciting formats for consumer engagement on nutrition in Sikkim. Nearly 24% of our online orders come from Eastern India, out of which a significant percentage comes from the North East. It’s an exciting collaboration that strengthens and provides a credible physical presence in our endeavour to popularize healthy snacking amongst families with kids. By making daily doses of goodness enticing for kids in line with global nutrition standards, we aim to impact at least 2 lakh families in Sikkim.
10. Any major challenges faced in your operations over the past one year?
The biggest challenge of a D2C brand to survive and grow is the rising cost of customer acquisition. The increasing competition in the digital space is driving up the online marketing costs. On the sourcing front, the inflationary pressure on raw material cost and on the distribution side, growing logistics cost due to fuel price rise are putting the margins under stress. Added to that, consumers expect discounts for online purchases.
11. Would you tell us more about your manufacturing facility and where it is located?
We are presently working with four contract manufacturers in Bengaluru, including Karnataka, Mumbai and Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
12. Lastly, a bit on your plans for Lil’Goodness in the coming days?
Our vision is to be a 500 crore brand by 2026, with an intermediate milestone of 100 crores by 2024. We want to touch at least 20 million families with kids through our products.
We plan to scale 10x over the next 18 months, establishing a firm presence in the minds of consumers as the preferred choice for fun and daily snacking. Strengthen online presence, especially through improved marketplace performance – scaling 15x.
The company plans to grow its offline presence to 20,000 stores in 10 cities, besides select demand driven presence in other cities. International expansion in the US, Middle East and South-East Asia is also planned.