Honeyvibe left a lasting impact on two sharks, including Vineeta Singh.
Last Updated: 02.39 PM, Feb 17, 2023
Not too long ago, there was a unique pitch on Shark Tank India season 2. It was a man with his lovey for honey and honeybees. While he left Vineeta Singh so impressed she struck a deal with him for beeswax, Namita Thapar, on the other hand, tested him. Now, Honeyvibe got in touch with OTTplay and spoke about both the scenarios and more.
Excerpts from the interview…
You started Honeyvibe because of a cause. Did you expect it to be a profitable business that it has turned out to be today?
Yes, of course. Otherwise, why would anyone do the business at all?
When you started off, was it tough in sense of health? Did the bees ever bite you while you were trying to save them? Or probably any financial issues you faced when starting off?
The bees scenario happened. I took 2-3 years in understanding how beekeeping happens. I didn't have any textbook knowledge about honeybees. It was out of my interest and passion that I followed beekeeping and today I'm a master trainer. It took me three years to understand things. There were many instances when the bees stinged me. We're trying out best to avoid that now. When a bee stings you, it dies. Keeping that in mind, we ensure that it doesn't sting with the help of tools.
Coming to financial challenges, definitely, the concept I selected, it was unorganised when I began working on it. Many were uninformed too. All the players we dealt with weren't skilled. We dealt with farmers. It took time to establish that. We had to build from the scratch. We had to bring in a system every step of the way. That took time, like it takes time.
When you leave your job and work on a startup, there's always the fear that you will find revenue everyday. We actually didn't have revenue initially but because we were sure that this can be an established business, that motivated us to continue on our journey. All my family members and friends supported me a lot.
Were you confident about your pitch or nervous? Considering how the Sharks are and where the deal could go...
Multiple feelings. I was nervous because we haven't approached an investor of that level. I was sure about my knowledge of my product, which gave me the confidence in myself. If they ask about my product or even the industry I'm in, I have enough knowledge about that. Coming to the stage after pitching to so many people was huge. Seeing the cameras did get me a little nervous, I won't lie.
When did you gain the experience? How long did it take for you to understand how the business goes?
Overall, they (the Sharks) took more than an hour. There was a detailed discussion which is very huge. Usually, investors finish off meetings in 10 minutes.
Even a startup founder's evolution keeps happening. Back when I started this, it was my interest that kept me going. As I continued, I realised two things - how important are honeybees for everyone and there are different types of honey. I thought there's a gap in market, since people don't even know about this. Now, I work in different states and forest areas. After 2-3 years, I got to know that this can be a legit business which delivers amazing products. Many businesses sell products that have negative impacts on you. This is one activity where you breed the breed. It benefits the farmers and agriculture. The plants benefit because after honeybees' pollination, the nutrient value increases. The consumers also realize that they aren't getting products after killing someone or after there's cruelty on that one. Everyone benefits from this. It took me 3-4 years to understand this completely. I then realised that I could take this to the next level. We'd like to strengthen our business hereon.
Were you expecting Vineeta to offer you a deal, since she is into the cosmetics business which requires beeswax?
I wasn't sure about her but knew that no matter whichever Shark invested in our product, we would connect with Vineeta ji and sell beeswax anyway. Sure, she requires beeswax for her cosmetics and we would readily sell it to her but it was great that she invested in our brand and told us that she would take beeswax from us anyway.
If you are asked today, which is healthier, honey, jaggery or sugar, what would you tell Namita?
Sugar shouldn't even be an option. Jaggery and honey. As I mentioned, we were there for more than an hour. Not everything was aired. I told her too that jaggery is as old as honey. It is used in many things. Just because I deal with honey, I cannot deny that jaggery is good too. If you use jaggery whole heating, that is a better option. There, if you add honey, Ayurveda says that there's a negative impact. The second is about your objective.
Honey is a free digestive food item. If you take honey, the impact on your blood cell level is faster. You won't find that in jaggery. While I wouldn't call jaggery bad but honey is beneficial too. If I had an option, I would definitely select honey as long as I don't have to heat it.
Mustard honey, you said, works best outside India. What are your plans to make it work in India too? Do you think it can replace jam?
Just to give you an example, imagine butter spread on bed. If it's in the cold environment, it is in a solid form. It gets easier to apply it that way. If it comes in a warm environment, the butter melts. It's the same with mustard honey. Take, for example, ghee. It crystallizes during winters and melts during summers. Since we have been told that is how ghee is, thus we don't find that problematic. All the mustard honey players did not put this point across because it behaves like ghee.
We plan to introduce mustard honey through refrigerated supply chain. It would be a great replacement to the artificially sweetened jam. I'm sure the user experience for the product will be very good. I cannot simply sell honey but also think about how the customer will use it.
When I got to know that mustard honey is crystallized, that was a challenge in our industry and at the same time, also an opportunity for the brand. I would love to launch the product in the way that it is consumed only in its crystallized manner. I don't want to turn it into liquid. Maybe this won't happen next month but in the coming period for sure.
Honeyvibe is already working abroad. So, what are your future plans for your brand?
Our initial focus is B2B. If we export too, it will be B2B. Launching our products in US, Dubai market is far away. It will happen but our current focus in strengthening our supply chain.