“Food for children in India looks almost medicinal, like that somehow has the doctor’s seal of approval. But why do we need to do that?” Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan found themselves wondering about the approach to children’s food as they struggled to find the perfect balance in taste and nutrition for their own kids. When their quest for healthy edibles turned up no satisfactory results, the duo turned mompreneurs with their own batch of nutritious treats.
Shauravi and Meghana are the co-founders of Slurrp Farm, a made-in-India organic food brand offering health and yummy treats for babies and kids.
Meghana and Shauravi showcasing Slurrp Farm products. Photo by Ashwani Nagpal
Before they plunged into the packaged food business, Meghana and Shauravi were super achievers in diverse fields. Armed with an MBA from Harvard Business School, Meghana—a computer science engineer by training and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University—led the public health practise at McKinsey India. Shauravi, a St. Stephens and Cambridge University alumni—has worked for Sir Richard Branson’s Group Holding entity at the Virgin Group and JP Morgan in London.
The two met when one of Shauravi’s friends asked her to go for Meghana’s Diwali dinner. Their meeting turned into a long friendship, as the two women bonded over food, laughter and fun business ideas. As mothers, Shauravi and Meghana felt invested in raising awareness for healthy eating among children. They also wanted busy parents, like themselves, to find readymade options which are as nutritious—and delicious—as homemade food.
“We decided to make the baby cereals organic because we feel at that age group it’s critical to ensure that children eat organic,” they say. “We want to build and educate a sizeable group of parents in terms of eating organic and healthy, and then look at more varieties of shorter shelf life and seasonal snacking stuff, once our own customer base grows.”
To expand their kitchen adventures into a business was no cakewalk. Meghana and Shauravi invested time and energy into extensive R&D and understanding the nuances of what went behind conventional packaged food production and what Slurrp Farm could do differently. The two have spent their last three years sourcing on organic sourcing from various parts of India, interacting with experts in the field and also learning from their mistakes.
Following a long process of trial-and-errors, success and failures, including a batch of apple puree and palm sugar cookies that turned out to be neither affordable nor durable, Meghana and Shauravi emerged with Slurrp Farm a small but thoughtful kids food label.
Slurrp Farm presently offers cereals for babies and cookies for children, made from organic ingredients.
Slurrp Farm’s wholewheat ragi and chocolate cookies and wholewheat, maize, rice, mango and banana with milk-cooked cereals
The recipes are delicious enough to make even grown-ups drool—ragi and oats-based cereals are elevated with apples, bananas, honey, tomatoes and dried spinach while wholewheat cookies pack an extra punch with cheese, chocolate or fruits and nuts.
The sugar used in the products is organic brown sugar and the maida content is minimal to none. Emphasizing on a clean mix of ingredients, the team has stayed away from transfats (dalda, edible vegetable oils or hydrogenated fats), palm oil, invert/golden syrup and high fructose corn syrup, ingredients that have become a staple in regular packaged products.
The products are adapted from family recipes, and the team finalises the proportion of ingredients in consultation with industry specialists, nutritionists and paediatricians. In developing the cookies, the team sought help from Mandakini Gupta, owner and chef of Smitten Bakery, who edited and narrowed down the range to seven recipes.
For final testing, Shauravi and Meghana headed to a playschool where 200 children tasted the products and helped them zero on the final three flavours. Incidentally, the founders’ favourite cookies was turned down by the children.
The brand has also relied on using vibrant colours, original characters and storytelling narratives to appeal to children (and those who are kids at heart).
Cookies from Slurrp Farm are made from natural ingredients
One of the biggest challenges for the brand has been to reach out to customers, without an extravagant marketing budget. Social media and word-of-mouth recommendations have helped them create brand awareness and receive real-time feedback.
The team also undertakes sampling activities and interactive sessions in schools and organises Slurrp Farm picnics with lots of kids. “There is simply no substitute for meeting in real life, forming real bonds and understanding our customers,” they say.
The brand is currently available in stores across New Delhi and uses online platform to reach customers around India. They hope to launch in other metros in coming months.
Meghana and Shauravi have learnt from their own experiences that once children develop the habit of healthy eating, they take it forward themselves. Case in point: their own children are addicted to the brand’s chocolate ragi cookies. So are other kids—a recent picnic, resulted in a jostling match among the kids for the ragi cookie box. “We were so happy!” gush the founders.
Between expanding the scope of their products, Meghana and Shauravi are constantly engaged in researching and developing newer products.
Shauravi and Meghana with their kids
Interacting with other mothers have enabled Meghana and Shauravi to focus their effort on breakfast and snack items for future products. They also plan to create products for prenatal and postnatal women and the elderly. The two are of the firm belief that taking a slow-and-steady approach will help their business ethos in the long run.
The duo admits that costing makes their work hard and sometimes compels compromise. For instance, they used real butter for the cookies as sourcing organic butter would make the supply erratic and also raise the prices.
“The thing is, people need to ask why is junk food SO cheap, not why is good food seemingly expensive,” they say. “We are convinced that with time people will change their mindset wherein they are happy to pay the doctor for a disease down the road, but not eat well and prioritise their health.”
Not just for children, Meghana and Shauravi believe that everyone must change the way they eat, at a fundamental level. These two mompreneurs aim to change the game by showing that healthy food need not come at the cost of taste. As they say, “Food should be about fun, and stories, and colourful things. And we want to bring that back!!”
For more information on Slurrp Farm, head to the official website.