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Ayurveda, uninterrupted

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Arjun Vaidya sees Dr Vaidya’s as a 21st century consumer products brand seeking to solve lifestyle problems of modern-day consumers. Three years after launching the brand and with over 100 FDA approved proprietary formulations, he now wants to focus on taking the company to the next level, whether it is through pushing through offline retail channel networks, or investing in content that customers can relate to.

TAKING AYURVEDA EN MASSE

The term ‘Vaidya’ means ‘medicinal practitioner’ in Sanskrit and Arjun’s family has been in the holistic healing trade for over 150 years, starting with his great-grandfather. This legacy of knowledge, which was handed down the generations, resulted with the family having a repertoire of over 100 plus propriety Ayurvedic formulations.

Arjun reminisced how almost 300 patients would visit his grandfather, Natoobhai Vaidya’s, modest clinic in Mumbai’s Tardeo are in the late 1980s. However, he rued that the old gent was content healing people and chose not to transform his popularity into a flourishing business.

However, when Arjun went to the Brown University in the US for his studies, he saw how the wave of wellness had swept the country with people opting for whole foods and how yoga had been repackaged and rebranded into a $16 billion dollar industry. On returning to India in 2013, he worked in the consumer sector focusing on a private equity company where he understood the pulse of the Indian consumer, which was changing.

“2014 saw a lot of interest in wellness in India, with the formation of the Ministry of AYUSH and the aggressive growth of Patanjali Ayurveda and Sri Sri Tattva. My grandfather had passed away the year before, but he left behind a legacy of 150 years of Ayurvedic knowledge in the form of highly effective formulations. In 2016, I started Dr Vaidya’s to make Ayurveda more appealing to the 21st century consumer,” he recalled.

Dr Vaidya’s flagship outlet is at Tardeo, Mumbai where Natoobhai Vaidya consulted in the ’90s.

FOR GREATER GOOD

While Arjun owned a repository of over 100 FDA approved proprietary Ayurvedic formulations, he decided to launch the brand with two products initially. These were Liv It Up, an Ayurvedic hangover shield and long-term liver protector and Herb-O-Fit, packaged Chavanprash in a capsule.

“In the first year, we decided to work on these two products to better understand the FMCG market, consumer needs, and how they respond to the brand,” Arjun explained. Today, the company sells 38 products under Dr. Vaidya’s brand name. These are traditional family formulations that have been repackaged and rebranded for the contemporary customer.

Three years later, the young entrepreneur does not want to keep launching products in a frenzy. “We don’t see ourselves as a 1000-product company in five years. We sort through our repository of information to find concepts and solutions that will be relevant to our customers,” Arjun added.

THE RIGHT CHANNEL CONNECT

Currently, Dr Vaidya’s sells its products through four distinct channels. The first remains the flagship clinic in Mumbai’s Tardeo where Arjun’s grandfather treated his patients.  The second is online, which is through its own portal as well as 15 other marketplaces, including Amazon Paytm Mall, Snapdeal, 1mg, Netmeds, Medlife, Pharmeasy, seniority, Nykaa, etc.

“Coming to our offline presence, we are present in about 700 to 800 outlets in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. We were focused on building our online channels correctly and offline selectively to have a profitable and sustainable format. However, 2019 will see a bigger focus on growing the offline channel,” Arjun stated.

The last sales channel is exports and the company has already made its presence felt in the UK and China. This year, it plans to foray in four American markets in addition to entering Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

It also hopes to pilot its products on Amazon’s global site this year.  This is in addition to making its online shopping available on its portal for four other countries – Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East, with Africa and Russia to be added to this list by the end of this month.

FUELLING THE WELLNESS BUSINESS 

All of Dr Vaidya’s products are manufactured at the company’s 15,000 square feet facility in Silvassa, which is ISO 9001 2015 approved, and has certifications from WHO-GMP, Ministry of AAYUSH and is US FDA registered as well. Talking about taking the ownership for manufacturing, Arjun said, “It is very important that we manufacture in our facility because everything we sell are proprietary formulations. At the same time, we believe in modernizing Ayurveda while adhering to its traditions, so we have the best manufacturing practices in place.”

While the business has been family funded till date, Arjun added that the company is expecting to close a round of funding shortly. The reason to take external fiscal support is to take the brand to the next level by investing in marketing to build Dr Vaidya’s as a brand and also educate consumers about Ayurveda.  

“We are always trying to enhance our processes and quality by investing in R&D. We get clinical validation for our products, improve the quality of testing, and prefer to do this in-house rather than use a third-party lab,” he pointed out. This requires investments and with investors willing to bank on the wellness wagon, it is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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