Epigamia's D2C Journey
Rohan Mirchandani has built a strong D2C (direct to consumer) brand in India called Epigamia, which is grossing over 100 crores in revenue as of FY20.
In the Direct to Billion Consumers Podcast, hosted by Arjun Vaidya, Rohan discusses his entrepreneurial journey in detail, including:
- Key Lessons on Entrepreneurship
- Epigamia's Bet on Cold Chain Logistics
- When should you Pivot
- Analyzing your Product
- Culture at Epigamia
What is Epigamia?
Epigamia is India's first branded plant-based yoghurt made with coconut milk as it seeks to transform the Indian dairy industry.
Epigamia's team is dedicated to creating healthier snacking options for their consumers. All of their products are made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and have no preservatives or artificial flavours.
Rohan mentioned that he has jokingly been referred to as "American Born Confused Desi (ABCD)". He believes this unique third-party perspective turned out to be an asset rather than a liability. Here's why.
- There were no pre-conceived notions about what will work going in. In fact, the notion going in was that nothing is going to be perfect. This led to a great entrepreneurial spirit.
- He knew early on that everything requires Quick Action, Quick Thinking, and Iteration.
- Great foundation with all the right ingredients already existed for a disruptive brand to come out and do something.
- There has been a rising demand in Indian consumer market, on par with rest of the world.
Rohan suggests that Brands must go in with the assumption that things are broken to find the right opportunities. He is firm believer in the idea that Challenges breed Opportunity.
Due to the nature of Epigamia's product, cold chain became Epigamia's fundamental business model, according to Rohan.
From the beginning they had to think about what capability to build that could help them create a moat and increase the barrier to entry.
The challenges faced by Epigamia founders related to Cold Chain logistics were 2 fold:
- How to operate and manage going direct to consumer (D2C)?
- How to influences operations at the shop where the brand had no control?
Although Epigamia became a pioneer in operating and managing D2C cold chain logistics, they had no control once the product was placed in shops.
Epigamia's greek yoghurts were preservative free with a shorter shelf life and most shop owners were switching off refrigerators to save electricity costs. Due to this, when the products were spoilt, consumers blamed the brand and not the shops.
View Customer Complaints as an Opportunity rather than a Problem
When customers took to social media to complain, Epigamia's team used it as an opportunity to educate them about going out and asking the shop owners to keep the refrigerators on. To build trust with the brand, they offered to replace the sub-par product as well.
Turning Customers into Advocates of the brand
As a result of the education, when newer customers complaints were filed on platforms like Twitter, older customers jumped in to talk about their experiences and defended the brand.
Rohan mentioned that by taking these unique steps, Epigamia ended up tackling the challenges in cold chain logistics through their customers.
If unit economics of your existing business model doesn't make sense and is unsustainable at scale, find a different one. Rohan's earlier experience with Hokey Pokey Icecream helped them pivot from parlours to FMCG products to start selling at scale.
Consider Seasonality of your product and build it into your model - Analyze consumer trends and find complementary opportunities.
No matter how many consumer surveys you conduct or how much you study the market, finally you have to let the consumer speak.
Good salespeople can always get customers to buy the first time. Defining moment for a product is the Repeat Purchase.
According to Rohan, until you have a repeat paying customer, no other feedback matters.
Rohan says he is a demanding CEO who expects results, but he doesn't like to micro-manage. He encourages the team to pull in the management to get any hurdles cleared out, and has implemented an open door policy at work.
The main value that resonates across the organization - Brutal Honesty!
“As entrepreneurs, the most efficient thing we can do is throw darts but, just make sure that every dart you throw is aimed better and better” - Rohan Mirchandani, Epigamia.
Tip of the Day
Just do it yourself. Go door to door, request, beg, do whatever it takes to get shelf space in stores.
Interested in the full episode? Check it out here.