Delhi-based startup brings organic produce from the lap of nature to your home
Just Organik aims to make organic food more accessible and affordable to the consumer, and create new opportunities for farmers by motivating them to adopt organic farming practices.
Launched in 2013 by Pankaj Agarwal and Richa Agarwal, Just Organik started out from the basement of Pankaj’s home. Today, the brand operates out of two offices in Delhi and Rudrapur, along with a processing unit based in Delhi.
“Our journey started almost four years back when a life-impacting event forced me to think beyond 18 years of my corporate job in the technology sector. I thought that safe food is a fundamental right. When even our daily food is not safe, organic food is the only answer,” Pankaj says.
Currently, Just Organik offers products across a range of categories, including pulses, millets, cereals, spices, sweeteners, oils and tea among others. The brand has been certified by India Organic, USDA and EU organic standards, and is also recognised by DIPP, Government of India, under the Start Up India initiative.
Just Organik products can be found in popular modern trade outlets, including More Hypermarket, Modern Bazaar and WH Smith. After tapping the offline market, the brand took the online route and is now available on e-commerce portals like Amazon.in, Flipkart, Justorganik.com in India and Amazon.com in the U.S.
“Our sourcing base is Uttarakhand. Produce there is grown in pure air free from any industrial or vehicular pollution, with water from Himalayan springs and in non-polluted soil. The result is a produce loaded with extra nutrition,” Pankaj says.
The brand is also keen to create awareness and has partnered with NGOs based in Uttarakhand to help farmers obtain organic farming certification and training. Just Organik also sources some portion of their produce from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orrisa, North East and Kerala.
To reach out to the consumers and cut down costs on distribution channels, the brand recently launched the Just Organik JOY mobile app, which lets consumers purchase products at a cheaper price.
Creating a niche in the crowded organic food space
According to a TechSci Research report, India Organic Food Market By Product Type, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 – 2021, India’s organic food market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 25 percent during 2016-2021, due to increasing use of synthetic chemical fertilisers and pesticides in non-organic products that lead to various health issues such as cancer, obesity and birth defects.
The Indian market is still at a growth stage when it comes to organic food, indicating that there is an untapped potential for startups and brands to explore and create a niche. Several startups like Back2basics, UrbanSoil, Mangalam Organic Foods, Earth Food and ISayOrganic are contributing to the organic food revolution in India.
Pankaj feels that competing with the conventional food range is a challenge, which us why the brand is continuously experimenting and innovating to educate consumers.
An engineering graduate and management graduate, Pankaj started his career in the mobile telecom industry in 1995 during the initial years of the telecom revolution in India. With work experience spanning nearly 18 years, he has worked with various multinationals like Siemens, Lucent, and Motorola in various leadership positions. Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, Pankaj served Tekelec, a US-based multinational (now a part of Oracle) for 8 years as a Head of Presales (Asia) and put together the right strategies for creating a niche and establishing it as a leader in the region.
In 2011, Pankaj decided to leave the corporate world and get into the business. Along with two other co-founders, he started a technology company in the field of mCommerce and VAS. After raising funds, he decided to move away from active involvement in the company and founded Treta Agro, which owns Just Organik.
Pankaj’s wife, Richa, who has earlier worked with Shri Ram Foundation for executing social impact projects, joined him.
“While having a drink and tossing the idea about Just Organik, Sandeep Agarwal, an agriculturist with 30 years of experience in the agriculture industry, agreed to be the first member to come on-board,” Pankaj recalls.
A graduate in agriculture with specialisation in seed production technology from GB Pant Agri University Pantnagar, Sandeep Agarwal has been an agricultural entrepreneur since the start of his career.
Pankaj later roped in Gaurav Agarwal to look after the brand’s sales strategies.
The brand is self-funded currently and is eyeing organic growth. Backed by a team of 25 members including the co-founders and couple of unskilled laborers for packaging, it is looking to raise funds soon.
In its year of inception, Just Organik generated revenue close to Rs 2 lakh. However, the second year was a turning point in the growth of the brand.
“The real sale year (2014-2015) saw a multifold increase in sale, followed by the next year with a growth of 750 percent over the previous year. Despite the slowdown in retail segment and demonetisation, we are on our way to cross the Rs 10 crore mark,” Pankaj says.
Year-on-year, the organic brand is growing its geographic boundaries and product portfolio to cover the complete dry grocery basket. Just Organik, which started operations from Delhi, is today present across all major markets of India and has also entered several international markets. Currently, its organic produce goes to North America, Europe, Australia and Middle East.
Gong ahead, Pankaj reveals that he has a double-barrelled approach for the brand’s growth – he plans to increase in-house produce and expand its reach through retail, online and institutional sales. In terms of national sales, Just Organik wants to create a robust presence in the south and west, with more distributors.
With the demand for organic food products rising in India and abroad, Just Organik is prepping for busy days.