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Having received a BSc Economics degree from London School of Economics and an MBA from IIM Calcutta Anusha Bhushan grew up wanting to be a working professional. She had seen most of her family excel at working hard and climbing up the corporate ladder. But when she entered her twenties, she started thinking about the possibilities of running her own business.

Anusha is the Co-founder and CEO of Smoodies, a startup which specialises in delivering fruit smoothies, made with lots of fruit and no added sugar and preservatives. Starting something from the scratch appealed to her, as she had seen her mother build up her own business from the ground up, her father had recently started his own business, and her brother was also setting up his own venture after graduating from business school.

“My husband has been wanting to be an entrepreneur since he was a teenager, and his drive and belief in the potential of employment generation through entrepreneurship encouraged me to take the plunge and start Smoodies.”

She says, “The turning point for me came when my husband and I decided to set up our own businesses, simultaneously. In separate industries, but at the same time. My husband has been wanting to be an entrepreneur since he was a teenager, and his drive and belief in the potential of employment generation through entrepreneurship encouraged me to take the plunge and start Smoodies. It also helped to have somebody going through the same journey, under the same roof, and somebody to talk to about startup problems.”

Smoodies was born out of a personal need for similar products. As a management consultant in Mumbai, she was working long hours and travelling extensively, to the extent that it was hard to manage her nutrition and diet on a day-to-day basis.

“When I walked into my neighbourhood store, I realised that there weren’t enough convenient packaged options that gave me value-for-money but also fulfilled my nutritional needs and satiated my taste buds.
That was where the idea came from, to startup in a space I could relate to. I am a foodie by nature, so it was definitely a space I was passionate about. So I started working on Smoodies, as a way to launch a novel category in the market and provide other time-crunched consumers with a healthy and convenient range of products that would help them manage their nutrition.”
Smoodie

Smoodie by Anusha Bhushan aspires to deliver 100percent fruit-based smoothies

Her team’s favourite memory of Smoodies to date was on the first day they sold the product. They made a couple of hundred bottles and took it out to a flea market, and started selling them. It was quite possibly the busiest few hours the team had had because three hours later they were completely sold out and people were asking for more!

Her team’s favourite memory of Smoodies to date was on the first day they sold the product. They made a couple of hundred bottles and took it out to a flea market, and started selling them.

Although initial validation is a great source of encouragement, food and manufacturing are a challenging space to breakthrough. She informs, “Starting up in a space, with a bootstrapped set up was incredibly hard because we needed to find low capex and quick ways of getting a product out into the market.

Of course, being a woman in this space can also at times pose its own challenges, having to work extra hard to dispel a lot of pre-conceived notions that people hold in this industry. I had suppliers telling me it was too tough for a woman, we had a lot of skeptics who didn’t believe it would be possible to set up something in a competitive FMCG industry, but the key was to just stick to it and do it regardless of what people said.”

“I had suppliers telling me it was too tough for a woman, we had a lot of skeptics who didn’t believe it would be possible to set up something in a competitive FMCG industry, but the key was to just stick to it and do it regardless of what people said.”

But what Anusha found most empowering in this journey, is the ability to generate employment. In the manufacturing industry particularly, she loves the fact the company is able to hire people who need employment opportunities the most. “What we also try to do is upskill as many people as we can over time, and train them to an expanded skillset,” she says.

Having an early stage startup requires a lot of hard work and long hours and what keeps Anusha sane through the process is that both her husband and she are running their own startups, so there is an elevated level of empathy and understanding in their relationship of the obligations that come from being a business owner. That always helps manage work pressures at least with respect to long work hours.

She adds, “A manufacturing setup is such that all our stakeholders engage with us typically during a standard working day, so it does mean that I am able to get home at a reasonable hour, and very often, my husband and I sit next to each other and work together, which allows us to spend time with each other as well!”

Anusha is optimistic about Smoodies (currently available in Mumbai and Bengaluru) and wants to expand it in the next five years to have a pan India presence, as a new-age FMCG firm.

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