In this episode of the FNA Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast, we speak Ravi Kabra, Founder of India’s Skippi which is best-known for being the first branded ice popsicle firm in India, as well as for successfully revamping the traditional ice pops category with healthier ingredients.
Skippi also recently made headlines for one of the most successful pitches made on India’s Shark Tank, being the first in the country to receive an ‘All Shark Deal’ where all five investors said yes to investing, and a sixth shark who was not on the show also contacted Kabra to invest after the fact.
All in all, the firm ended up receiving a whooping INR10mn (over US$120,000) in investments, and according to Kabra, the show was a true turning point for the firm as the Skippi brand has since taken off and reached new heights.
“Skippi has achieved such exponential growth in the months since we went on Shark Tank that we are on track to hopefully reach basically every nook and cranny in India,” Kabra told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Based on this, we are hoping that in the next 12 months we will be able to reach the level of being a larger MNC player in the ice popsicle segment – at the level of HUL (Hindustan Unilever Ltd) or Nestle, for example.
“To get there, we need to make sure that Skippi ice popsicles are available in every household in India, and to do that we must ensure our distribution network is that strong to reach all possible [retail avenues, whether these are] supermarkets, mom-and-pop stores, online platforms and others – so that’s the target for the next 12 months.
“But we won’t be stopping there – five years down the line we are talking about creating a whole new category of ice popsicles, and making this category as big as say soft drinks or ice creams. Creating a whole new category means there will be multiple players that emerge in the space, and here Skippi intends to play a massive role of being a forward market leader and pioneer.”
One of the first steps Kabra is working on to achieve this is the establishment of a larger-scale production facility, as Skippi is currently facing the bittersweet predicament of having more demand than supply ability, which they are trying hard to work out.
“If I had known that Skippi would achieve the popularity and market demand it is seeing now, I definitely would have set up a larger production plant earlier on,” he said.
“Today, being the solo ice popsicle brand in such a large country, we are struggling to supply to all the demand we are getting from all over India – and more than this, we are also seeing demand coming in from the Middle East and African markets as well.”
Kabra has been involved in the F&B manufacturing and exports business in both India and Australia for several years previously, and highlighted that every market comes with its own unique challenges.
“We all know that India has cold chain logistical issues, and the market is very disorganized for the most part – these are areas that Australia is better at, but at the same time it has a lower population than India so consumers are spread very far apart, making logistics costs very high as well,” he said.
“India’s 1.3 billion population means there is a large consumer base and room for several brands to come in and start offering products to local consumers, which may be harder to do in Australia than here; and India’s disorganized market actually offered us our major opportunity – because there was no ice popsicle market to speak of other than in corner shops that people don’t trust as much, this was how Skippi could come in and disrupt this market with a much more organized and healthier value proposition.”
Listen to the podcast above to find out more.