Gladful, a Jaipur based brand is revamping Indian food with high protein mixes

With a portfolio of highly distinctive protein pre-sprouted mixes, protein cookies, and dates and nut-based desserts, this FMCG start-up is transforming school tiffin boxes and early morning meals into wholesome and nourishing experiences. 

   
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Maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet in today’s fast-paced world is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for families on the go.

SME Futures recently came across an FMCG start-up, Gladful, which is a Jaipur-based protein brand that is creating waves in the world of nutrition with its family-friendly protein products, claiming to fulfil the protein requirements which are more often than not lacking in the typical Indian diet.

According to its Co-Founder Parul Sharma, the company, established in 2020, is the outcome of a personal epiphany fuelled by personal experience and years of industry expertise. It was then that Parul along with her brother Manu decided to embark on a mission to bridge the protein deficiency gap prevalent among the children and families in this country.

Since its inception, Gladful has quickly become a household name, revolutionising the way families approach their dietary needs. The brand has also been gaining remarkable visibility after it recently appeared in Shark Tank season 2. Talking to SME Futures, Parul Sharma took us through the journey of how it reached Shark Tank India.  

Inception of Gladful

Parul tells us that Gladful’s inception was rooted in a deeply personal experience that highlighted the significance of protein in a child’s growth and daily activities.

She says, “I was surprised when I found out that our typical Indian diet doesn’t have the amount of protein that we need. Secondly, unlike fats, proteins can’t be stored in our bodies, so they must be consumed daily.”  

This revelation led Parul and her brother Manu to delve into the world of food and nutrition, only to discover that the typical Indian diet often falls short of providing adequate protein. Recognising the widespread ignorance surrounding this macronutrient, Parul, who has 14 years of experience in the FMCG industry, decided to create a product which would be a unique family-friendly protein brand. 

Protein pie in the FMCG industry 

As consumers become more health-conscious, there is a growing demand for convenient and nutritious options. Due to this, the FMCG industry in India is undergoing a rapid transformation, with an increasing focus on protein-rich products. While the protein segment has seen substantial growth, there remains a gap in the market when it comes to brands specifically catering to the protein needs of the average Indian consumer.  

Sharma asserts that her company aims to fill this void by addressing the protein requirements of regular individuals and families, expanding the market and promoting a healthier lifestyle in the process.

What differentiates these proteins? 

According to its founder, Gladful sets itself apart by focusing on two key aspects-nutrition and taste. “To kickstart our mission, I developed a range of easily accessible, inexpensive, and highly digestible protein pre-mixes, protein cookies, and date and nut-based dessert bites,” she says.  

“Drawing inspiration from our rich sprouting heritage, I revived the age-old practice of sprouting legumes like moong, amaranth, lobhia, millet, and more, infusing our products with added nourishment,” she adds.

Besides cookies and snack combos, this sister-brother duo has also come up with a solution for Indian mothers who worry about their kids not having a wholesome meal during school hours. For kids between the age group of 7-9 years, Gladful has introduced tailored school tiffin boxes.

According to Sharma, as a mother and a founder, she is committed to providing easy-to-consume foods specifically tailored for school tiffin boxes and early morning meals, which is a testament to her deep understanding of the needs and challenges that are regularly faced by families in this context.  

With these protein pre-mixes that require only the addition of water, busy parents can effortlessly prepare protein-rich meals for their children. The brand also offers perfectly portioned date and nut-based dessert bites and protein cookies, conveniently packaged for on-the-go consumption. 

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Challenges along the journey 

Building Gladful as a brand has not been without its challenges.  

Speaking of the challenges, Sharma remarks, “A significant hurdle that we encountered was the prevailing lack of awareness and understanding regarding the functions and significance of protein amongst parents in India.”  

Extensive research and conversations with thousands of parents revealed that an overwhelming 93 per cent had limited knowledge about proteins.  

Surprisingly, protein consumption remained low across different cities, economic strata, and age groups. Compounding the issue were the numerous myths surrounding protein and these myths, perplexingly, persisted even among the educated elite. Overcoming these deep-seated beliefs required a comprehensive education campaign to dispel these myths and empower consumers with knowledge.  

“For me personally, this journey with Gladful became a period of self-reflection as I endeavoured to redefine our collective perception of food as a family. It underscored the importance of not only providing nutritious products but also of actively empowering our customers and the wider public with knowledge about healthy and sustainable eating habits,” Sharma points out. 

When we ask her about how they have been overcoming these challenges, she replies, “We focused on raising awareness through diverse communication channels, including social media, blog articles, and informative content on our website. Additionally, we conducted workshops and educational sessions, fostering direct engagement with parents and addressing their concerns and queries about protein and its role in our bodies.” 

Securing the Sharks’ support 

Gladful recently secured an investment of Rs 50 lakhs in the second season of Shark Tank India. Sharma says that this funding will be instrumental in driving the brand’s growth and market presence. When we ask her about the Shark Tank journey, she tells us that the journey to secure a spot on Shark Tank India involved multiple steps.

It began with written applications, followed by a rigorous start-up profile selection process. Sharing their experience, she adds, “Next, we participated in a mock-up round held in Delhi, which eventually led to our selection for the show. The actual filming took place at the prestigious YRF studios, where we had the opportunity to directly meet the sharks.”

“Our hearts were filled with prayers and hope for success. Fortunately, our hard work and dedication paid off as we received funding from not just one, but three sharks: Aman Gupta, Namita Thapar, and Amit Jain,” she enthuses.  

Sharma says that the experience of going through the Shark Tank selection process is intense and nerve-wracking, but it ultimately results in a transformative moment for any company that gets funds. What are they going to do with these funds, we ask.

“We will create appealing products that cater to their preferences and dietary requirements through meticulous research and by leveraging consumer feedback,” she responds.

“We will strengthen our online presence to tap into the growing e-commerce market, ensuring convenient access to Gladful products for our target audience. Additionally, we will actively engage with our offline partners to enhance our retail presence, maximizing our reach and visibility across various regions,” she adds.  

The founders are actively working on amplifying their market reach. Also, strategic partnerships will play a vital role in solidifying Gladful’s position as India’s preferred protein snack partner for kids and families. 

Gladful’s future plans revolve around becoming the preferred brand for kids and families. With a focus on expanding the sprouted protein breakfast range and introducing new products based on sprouts and millet, it aims to provide accessible and nutritious food options that every family can enjoy.  

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