Turn Over a New Leaf Entrepreneur Preeti Sinha’s start-up
Clean eating has changed Preeti Sinha’s life in various ways. The Hyderabad-based entrepreneur, born and brought up in Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai, steadily gained weight owing to her two pregnancies, and, as a result, her health suffered. With sheer will power, the 37-year-old green meal warrior won the battle against obesity and in the process, realized how food plays a vital part in weight management. Thus her start-up, Greens & More, was born. This website-based one-stop destination for green meals—to be precise, it delivers nutritionally balanced salads to consumers, helping them meet their dietary needs. Before turning entrepreneur, Sinha, an electronics engineer, worked with corporate giants in the banking and finance sector in India and the US. Excerpts from an interview.
Tell us about your initial battle with your weight.
It all started in 2010 with my first pregnancy. I had gained substantial weight, and then, two years later, I had my second child. I struggled to lose the extra kilos post-delivery. I suffered from sleeplessness, and sciatica, and felt breathless every time I climbed stairs. This reduced my productivity, both at home and at work. Back then, I worked full-time with Tata Consultancy Services
Tell us about your journey post that.
At that time, I didn’t consult a health expert/dietitian. I began monitoring weight loss products such as sauna belts, bottled protein shakes, and Ayurvedic medicines on TVCs. Soon, I realised that these won’t do. I joined a fitness class and focused on cardio exercises and strength training. I began losing weight and realised that weight loss is all about 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. This prompted me to become conscious of what I was eating. I started consuming more fibre, protein, and good fats and cut back on refined carbs. I managed to lose 20 kg, not by following any diet, but by fuelling my body the right way.
How did you come up with the idea of Greens & More?
When my family and I lived in the US, salads were part of our daily diet. A salad bowl is a meal in itself, and somehow, that wasn’t a part of Indian culture. I thought it’s high time the concept was introduced here.
Take us through the initial challenges.
I started Greens & More from my home kitchen in 2017. The biggest challenge was that I didn’t have a background in hotel management or the restaurant business. I had spent most of my professional life in the banking and finance sector, and food was a new domain for me. A chef for Chinese cuisine or one for tandoor dishes was easily available, but finding one for green meals was a task. I had to research, and train people on how to make raw fruits and vegetables palatable, without cooking them. I didn’t know how to run a commercial kitchen at that time. In addition to that, we battled the issue of supply-chain and getting the right products at the right cost. Initially, I cooked the meals; I ended up delivering 50 to 60 meals on my own. I would start at 5.30 am every day. I would finish chores, and then venture out to deliver the packages. On occasion, I had to stay up late in the night to finish work and plan for the next day. After catering to health aficionados for six months, I registered my company and rented a small space near my home.
How has Greens & More grown over the years?
We started with a seed capital of `2,000 and were delivering 150 meals per month. From that point, we have grown to 7,000 meals per month, and are closing this year (2019-2020) with revenue between `0.6 crores and `0.7 crores. At the moment, I have 18 people working with me, and logistics are outsourced. We have three outlets in Hyderabad and one cloud kitchen. Plans are on way to open four new outlets in Hyderabad this year. That, in turn, will take us to 20,000 meals per month. Next year, with investment, we plan to take the venture to Bangalore and Pune as well.
What’s your marketing strategy?
Till date, we haven’t spent a dime on marketing. We bank on word-of-mouth publicity. We have six WhatsApp groups, and that’s the cheapest form of marketing we could think of. In these groups, we post about their menu for the day and also address questions from consumers. We change the menu every six months to avoid food fatigue. However, for subscribers, the menu is updated on an everyday basis.
How has the feedback been?
One of our consumers is a doctor who was suffering from edema. She tried several kinds of medical treatments, but they didn’t show results. She came to us, and we prescribed low-carb foods. In no time, she started losing weight. The reason is, in cases of edema, water weight is high. Carbs tend to retain water, so if you cut down on them, the water weight reduces. In another case, a woman who subscribed to green meals lost 20 kilos in 11 months. Recently, she ran the Pinkathon.
What’s the biggest myth associated with eating healthy?
Initially, when we started serving salads, people thought we were asking them to start dieting. But that’s not the case. Eating salads, which include legumes, pulses, beans, fruits, and vegetables, means you are fuelling your body with the right kind of nutrients.
In hindsight, what would you do differently when it comes to your fitness journey?
I wish I had started earlier!