Indian manufacturer Kapiva targets growth through 'modernised' ayurveda

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Kapiva wants to modernise ayurveda's image to appeal to younger consumers. ©Getty Images
Kapiva wants to modernise ayurveda's image to appeal to younger consumers. ©Getty Images
Kolkata-based healthcare start-up Kapiva Ayurveda is looking to expand across Asia and North America, with Hong Kong and Canada next on its list after its success in Singapore and the US.

Currently, Kapiva's 200-plus products (which consist mainly of herbal supplements and cosmetics) are sold in India, the US and Singapore, with the US market accounting for half its sales.

Kapiva president Ameve Sharma's goal for the company — part of Indian ayurveda specialist firm Baidyanath Group — is to modernise ayurveda's image to appeal to a younger generation of consumers.

He told us: "We want to take ayurveda to an international level. TCM and yoga have become global, and we foresee a similar trend for ayurvedic products."

Referring to Baidyanath Group, which was founded 100 years ago and has been a family business since its inception, he added: "My family has been in this business for many years, and we have the resources to make it global. We want to make it more accessible, easier to understand, and more relevant to a younger generation."

Three-pronged approach

Kapiva's strategy for achieving this involves a three-pronged approach: transparency, format, and product selection.

According to Sharma, the company focuses on what its products can do instead of their ingredients and development processes, which can be complicated and difficult to understand.

The products supposedly help to tackle the issues working adults between the ages of 27 and 45 face, such as fatigue, stress, and skin problems.

"The younger generation is keen on transparency with anything they buy. Within three seconds of looking at the label on a product, they want to know what it does,"​ Sharma said.

He also emphasised the importance of offering ayurvedic formulas in formats suitable for consumers.

This has led Kapiva to produce a wide range of capsules and sprays, which have proven more popular than liquids and powders among working adults, who often prioritise convenience when taking supplements.

At the same time, Sharma acknowledged the challenges of meeting demands that differ from one market to another, saying Kapiva has had to offer a large enough product selection for different needs and preferences.

At present, the company carries supplements designed to treat a variety of ailments, from the common cold to diabetes, as well as weight loss, skincare and haircare products.

Expanding portfolio

Sharma recently told Indian media Kapiva intends to raise $8m within 18 months in order to expand its product portfolio and increase marketing investment.

This comes after it raised $1m at the start of the year from private investors, including Gits Foods, and it aims to obtain this next round of funding from venture capitalist and private equity investors.

The funding will also support the company's expansion to Hong Kong and Canada, where it hopes to begin operations by February 2018.

Sharma chose not to name Kapiva's potential local investors in the two countries, but said it has "gotten a lot of interest"​ and that he is confident in the company's expansion prospects.

This confidence is partially buoyed by support from Baidyanath Group, which he credits with providing the start-up with finances and other resources, as well as helping it to get a foot in the door outside of India.

Sharma is also encouraged by the large Indian market in Canada he believes is already keen on ayurveda, while in Hong Kong, "there is a solid base of consumers for herbal medicine"​ such as TCM.

He also has plans to bring Kapiva to Malaysia and the Middle East next year, but was tight-lipped on the details.

Business by numbers            

The company, which was established early last year, has offices in Kolkata, Mumbai and the US. It currently has 48 employees, a number Sharma plans to increase to 80 by end-2017.

He revealed that Kapiva has seen between 20% and 30% monthly sales growth since it started, and aims to achieve an average annual turnover of $100m within five years.

In a broader context, market research firm Stratistics MRC estimated the global herbal supplement market to be worth $49.1bn last year, and predicted it would grow to $86.7bn by 2022.

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