Alumni Ventures: Bajo Foods – Sudarshan Gangrade, PGP 2003

Sudarshan Gangrade, the founder of Bajo Foods, a top insurgent brand in India, aims to provide low-carb food options to 100 million Indians. Bajo Foods differentiates itself by focusing on the Indian diet and taste preferences, offering products that suit the traditional Indian palate. Recent launches include Protein Chef and DiabeSmart, addressing the protein and diabetic segments. Branding played a significant role in establishing Bajo Foods, primarily through functional benefit-focused packaging and digital communication. Looking ahead, Bajo Foods plans to expand its Cloud Kitchen presence across PAN India to impact the health of 100 million Indians.

Additionally, Bajo Foods has gained recognition and validation as a top insurgent brand, which has further motivated the company to continue innovating and improving. The success of Bajo Foods can be attributed to its team of experts who have developed high-quality products and the support of loyal customers. With a focus on continuous growth and ambitious future plans, Bajo Foods remains committed to its mission of providing healthier food solutions and positively impacting the health of millions of Indians.

Congratulations on being named among the top insurgent brands in India! Could you tell us more about Bajo Foods and its unique brand and product offering?

Thank you! This is an incredible honour, and I am so grateful for it. Let me tell you a little about Bajo Foods. We founded Bajo Foods in 2019 with the mission to provide low-carb food options to 100 million Indians. We believe that with the right products, we can modify the traditional carb-heavy Indian diet into a healthier one. Bajo Foods is the parent company of 3 fast-growing brands that tackle various diet requirements. Lo! Foods, as you know, is our Ultra-low carb food brand. We produce keto and low-carb diet-friendly snacks, meals, and even desserts brought to you by our Cloud Kitchens.

Protein Chef and DiabeSmart are two newer brands in the Bajo family. They aim to tackle Protein Deficiency and Diabetes in India, respectively. DiabeSmart produces low-carb, diabetic-friendly options for better blood sugar control and diabetes management.

Protein Chef, on the other hand, helps overcome protein deficiency in India by providing easy high-protein food options that can be substituted easily in the Indian diet.

How did Bajo Foods differentiate itself from other mainstream brands in your category?

Our motto has always been to focus on the Indian Diet and taste. We believed that if we want Indians to eat healthier, we would have to provide them with food options that suit the Indian palate. And that’s exactly what we continue to do today. Our product line is carefully crafted keeping in mind people’s needs and preferences.

Another practice of ours that sets us apart from various other brands is our extensive testing. We want to provide only the best and most efficient products to our customers. We run dozens of tests to ensure our products are of the highest quality.

At Bajo Foods, our customer’s needs have always come first. That’s what makes us such a special brand!

What were the key factors that contributed to Bajo Foods’ success and recognition as an insurgent brand?

Our success is all thanks to our team of experts who designed such amazing products and, of course, our customers. Our products have shown tremendous results across lakhs of customers very quickly, despite us operating in a very specific niche.

The support of our loyal customers has kept us going, which led us to build the largest Keto and Low-Carb food brand in India. Today, we have over 20 operating Cloud Kitchens spanned across 4 cities – Gurugram, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. We make it a point to keep our Kitchens updated with the latest technologies and we keep innovating with new recipes!

Another major factor in our path to success is the fact that we have now become Amazon’s Choice in all categories. Our products are a big hit among Indians and we promise to keep innovating further!

How did your brand’s differentiation and unique product offering resonate with consumers? Did you face any challenges along the way?

The Keto Diet is famously known to be very difficult to follow. We realised that most of the products on the market were copies of the West. They were expensive and did not suit the Indian market. We have always taken pride in manufacturing products that are palatable and in line with the traditional Indian Diet. This is the reason we quickly became Amazon’s Choice and have such high compliance and impact.

Yes, we did face a lot of challenges along the way. From operating in a niche to building a brand that remained true to that niche and ensuring all our products were of the highest quality with rigorous testing. One of the biggest challenges we faced was designing a variety of low-carb products using different ingredients having the same taste and texture as their traditional counterparts. Of course, all thanks to my team, we were able to overcome these challenges and make Bajo Foods the booming brand that it is today.

What role did branding play in establishing Bajo Foods as a prominent insurgent brand? How did you develop and communicate your brand’s values to consumers?

Branding played a key role in the building of Bajo Foods. Although as a new startup, we did not have room to spend heavily on this. Hence our branding was primarily functional benefit focused; communicated at the point-of-sale through packaging. Our communication with consumers was digital but point of sale and packaging has always been a big part in the development of Bajo Foods.

How has the recognition as a top insurgent brand impacted the growth and future plans of Bajo Foods?

Recognition as a top insurgent brand has been great for business. It has validated and reaffirmed the path that we are on. From our perspective, we are on high growth to a bold and ambitious future. This recognition has motivated us to keep innovating and becoming better every day.

Bajo Foods has recently launched products targeting the diabetic and protein segments. Could you provide more details about these new launches and how they align with the brand’s mission? What sets them apart from existing offerings in the market?

Yes, to further our mission of impacting the health of 100 million Indians, we founded two brands that are called Protein Chef and DiabeSmart.

DiabeSmart is India’s first clinically tested food range for Diabetes Management. Our products deliver up to 70% better sugar control and reduced blood sugar spikes. The recent additions to DiabeSmart are the Atta and Batter Additives, which are groundbreaking innovations and we believe they will help address the Diabetes problem in India.

As for our protein segment, we realised that most high-protein products in the market are copies of the West. This led to the founding of Protein Chef, where we develop protein solutions catered to the Indian market. Our products include the High Protein Atta and the Protein Mix for Atta. Both these products have been a huge success.

Could you provide some insights into the market research and analysis conducted by Bain and DSG that led to your inclusion in the list of top insurgent brands? What were they looking for in selecting these brands?

There were multiple criteria considered by Bain and DGS when analysing the different brands. These included the categories the brands were operating in -the differentiation that these brands had created, the repeat rates of the brands in that space, the recognition of the brand by a set of consumers and whether the brand operated in a large enough space. Bajo Foods operate in staple snacks, which is a relatively wide category.

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs or founders looking to create brands and launch new categories?

What I’ve learned from my own personal experience and what I’d like to pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs is that always do your research upfront and make sure the market is large enough. This is not just in terms of the size of the market, but also their ability to pay for the price point that you are going after. Often we have great ideas and we come up with fantastic products but they have an extremely limited market even if theoretically they may show potential for a larger market. After considering the pricing considerations and distribution, the addressable market becomes very limited. This is why, when launching a new product, always make sure to understand all aspects of the market.

Looking ahead, what are the future goals and ambitions for Bajo Foods? How do you plan to sustain and build upon your success as an insurgent brand?

Our future goals today are driven by the mission that we have set on from Day 1, which is to impact the health of 100 million Indians. Our two new brands, Protein Chef and DiabeSmart, are also on the same path to providing healthier food solutions to 100+ million Indians. With the help of our amazing team and our loyal customers, I’m positive we can achieve this goal very soon.

We are also working on expanding our Cloud Kitchen. Currently, we are the largest low-carb, healthy, Cloud Kitchen chain in India with 20 kitchens across 4 cities. And we will continue to expand our kitchens in PAN India.