Alum Ventures: Hamsa Dairy Pvt Ltd- Dharma Tej, MPEFB 2008

Dharma Tej is a second-generation entrepreneur, in the food business. Hamsa Dairy is his endeavor, into the dairy industry. What sets this venture apart from its competitors is the mindset- Hamsa is set out to become a respectful and responsible Dairy. It does not shy away from its responsibility towards the farmers, cattle, environment, employees and customers.

Born in the trying times of the pandemic, its people are leaving no stone unturned. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Dharma Tej on entrepreneurship and his latest venture.

Can you please tell us about yourself?

Am an electronics engineer with a specialisation in Lean Manufacturing from Toyota, Japan. Have also taken courses in Netherlands and Germany. Am also pursuing my diploma/course in dairy technology.

We are the second generation in food processing. Family was among the pioneers of fruit and vegetable processing in India. With facilities in 8 locations and supplying to Pepsico, Nestle, Heinz etc.. and exporting to over 25 countries.  My siblings who are alumni of Harvard, Oxford, etc help me when needed.

What prompted you to start Hamsa Dairy?

We found imported cheeses very expensive, the ones being made in small farmstead places do not maintain the equipment and hygiene standards of European Cheesemakers.

Many dairies are not sourcing milk ethically from farmers and not offering them a fair price. Many brands do not have their own manufacturing facilities hence no control over the quality of raw material and production facilities.

Most Dairies were using equipment that was not safe for the environment and health.

Was Saddened to find very big companies still using Ammonia Chillers which cause Asphyxiation of employees and are harmful to people who consume products that are contaminated with it.

What are the products offered by Hamsa, and where are these available?

  • We have just launched our Classic Paneer made with whole cow milk, which is ranked among the best whole cow milk Paneers in south India. 
  • Right now we are available on E-Commerce platforms like Suprdaily in Bangalore. We will soon be available on some more E-Commerce platform stores in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
  • We are offering low fat Paneer for horeca and institutions.

How are products from Hamsa different from its competitors?

Our Plant is built with European standards and the latest equipment from Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, etc…

Our plant is built on about 12 acres of land and is close to Bangalore, Tirupati and Chennai. Our brand name ‘Hamsa’ is also named after a mythological bird that can separate Milk from water.

Our milk is among the safest milk in South India – it’s safe from Ammonia, Glycol, Pesticides, Aflatoxins, Hormones and Antibiotics. All our milk is ethically sourced directly from farmers in South India. We pay a fair price to farmers and compensate/reward them for not using hormones and antibiotics on cattle and take care to give cattle feed that is safe from pesticides and aflatoxins. We are proud to say that our Milk is completely traceable from Cow to Customer.

We are among the first dairy in South India to have eliminated harmful Ammonia and Glycol in our processes. Also, we are the first ones down south to have adopted the latest packing machine from Germany that ensures freshness and improves shelf life without adding any chemicals/ preservatives.

We have invested in an Environmentally friendly Eutectic refrigerated supply chain to bring all the products to customers at the right temperature to maintain the freshness and taste.

Are there any new products that will are in the pipeline or will launch soon?

We will soon be launching many varieties of cheese like – Mozzarella Di Bufala, Bocconcini, Feta, Ricotta, Burrata, Mascarpone, Sour Cream Cheese,  Pizza Cheese, Processed Cheese, Goat Cheese, etc..

Apart from the cheese’s, many products like Greek Yogurt, Probiotic Yogurt, Sweets, Desserts, Malai Paneer, Low-fat Paneer, Herb infused Butters etc..are also in the lineup.

We also have a strong pipeline of probiotic drinks for Hypercholesterolemia, IBS, Traveller Diarrhea, etc.

Any key learnings as an entrepreneur?

The biggest challenge is raising capital for traditional manufacturing units located in rural areas. PSU Banks were going through their own problems and private banks aren’t interested in greenfield projects.

Several Black Swan events like the banking crisis, GST and  Covid – delayed implementation, increased our Capex and brought to stand still the travel plans of our European consultants and customers.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to read, travel and update myself on developments in lean enterprises, TOC. I try to practice Vipasana and Yoga.

Any fond memories/ experiences from your days at IIMB.

One of our old manufacturing plants was close to the IIMB campus. As a kid, used to visit the awesome Campus and was encouraged by family to study here. So it was a childhood dream to study at IIMB.

It was great learning from Faculty, friends and business leaders. Made lifelong friends and had the most amazing time on campus.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Be patient during uncertainties/ tough times, this too shall pass.