It was people’s unhealthy obsession with caffeinated drinks that prompted this Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, native to think of healthier alternatives. The common switch most people make is to shift to green tea. But Sivapriya Vinithkumar always found green tea unpleasant. So, she decided to start a company that produces a tastier variation during the 2020 lockdown along with her husband Vinithkumar.
Their company ‘Fusion Fluids’ and their ‘Gooseberry Fusion Tea’, she says, was Vinithkumar’s idea. “He always had this interest of experimenting with food. When he came up with a thought to fuse methi, amla and raspberry to make a healthy beverage, I extended all technical as well as moral support,” says Sivapriya who is an architect by profession.
The COVID-induced lockdown pushed the couple to think about additional income sources other than their architectural company. After spending four months researching, Gooseberry Fusion Tea was launched on an online platform. But it didn’t kick off well, so they turned their focus to the offline market as well.
“As we were new in business, the company was started with a small investment. Later, we decided to expand it. We gave free trial packs to supermarkets and personal contacts. Most of them were hesitant at the beginning but soon became our regular customers,” says the 25-year-old entrepreneur.
Their ‘Fusion Tea’ contains three major ingredients — gooseberry, raspberry and fenugreek. “While developing a product which is supposed to be consumed daily, we made a firm decision that it should be equally healthy and delicious. Fenugreek and gooseberry are part of healthy diets suggested by our ancestors which have health benefits such as preventing heart diseases and maintaining good skin texture. But both of their tastes are unpopular. Thus, we decided to bring in a twist by adding raspberry, which is an imported fruit. The flavour and sweetness of raspberry interests people, especially kids. It may sound like a weird combination but all three ingredients blend well,” adds Sivapriya.
She also adds that supermarkets often mistake them for selling three different products but it’s a 3-in-1 product. The part of making people understand the product was quite challenging for the team. “Slowly, we found a grip and got a favourable market. We keep a record of customers who purchase from our site and take feedback from them once a month. They share that the product is easy to make, helps in weight loss and healthy skin. Our regular customers include IT professionals who consider this tea as an energy drink in between work,” says Sivapriya who takes care of product marketing and sales on online platforms.
Nila Kannan, a customer of Fusion Fluids writes, “I hate to drink green tea. This is a good replacement. It tastes fruity and smells great.”
Other than being a health product brand, Fusion Fluids makes sure that all of its in-house employees are women. There are a total of five of them working in the production and packaging departments.
Sivapriya says that the decision was solely because she finds it easier to communicate with these women. “Most of them are from the same locality and I know them personally. They know about the product and we are completely satisfied with their work,” she adds.
Biotechnology graduate Sakthi Lakshmy, a staff at Fusion Fluids, says, “I found the company on Facebook and instantly applied for a job because of my interest in food technology. It’s been seven months since I joined and this office is like my home now. I am also a satisfied customer of the Gooseberry Fusion Tea.” In a span of six months with a single product, the company is running on profit.
“We tried to reach people through campaigns, stalls, speaking at public meetings at colleges and gyms and via online platforms. For the first three months we didn’t target profit at all. Today, we get three times the orders received during those months,” underlines Sivapriya.
One jar of Gooseberry Fusion Tea, which makes 64 cups, has a retail price of Rs 320. However, there is a smaller trial pack available in supermarkets for Rs 37. A spoonful of the mixture can be added to hot water in order to prepare tea. Several other recipes are available on their website which incorporates other ingredients like milk and nuts.
Sivapriya proudly shares that they haven’t encountered any negative feedback from customers to date. “When I say even my 2-year-old son loves drinking it, do you still doubt my tea?” she asks. Vinithkumar, she says, is also the backbone of the company and deals with suppliers and merchants.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)