As the preparations for Eid are in full swing, we get into a one-on-one conversation with the man behind Flyberry – Akarsh Makhija.
Tell us something about yourself
I started off as an engineer from BITS Pilani, but like most engineers, I found my passion outside my area of study. For the longest time, I had a dream of doing something meaningful that added value not only to my life but others’ as well. That’s why I started Flyberry.
How did Flyberry come into being?
To be honest, Flyberry started off as an experiment. After spending a few years in the corporate world in Bangalore, I began to get a bit restless. I wanted to do something bigger. I brainstormed for ideas that I could convert into a business. The one that stuck was getting into healthy snacks. I noticed a gap in both the range and quality of healthy snacks in the country. Dried fruits in Indian stores, for example, had only a few varieties to choose from. So I partnered with my extended family who had established a well-known brand in Thailand over 25 years and as a pilot we imported a small shipment - a few hundred kilos of Medjoul dates, only to find that we were out of product in less than 3 weeks of starting to place it on shelves. When we saw first-time clients quickly became regulars, we knew we were onto something and Flyberry was born.
Tell us more about Flyberry Gourmet.
Flyberry Gourmet has evolved into a healthy snacking brand through unique varieties of natural dried and dehydrated fruits, berries, vacuum fried veggies, and edible nuts. We enjoy strong relationships with some very established global suppliers for our product range, which enables us to directly bring in high quality products, consistently.
In a relatively short span of time in India, we have a loyal clientele and direct consumer base including leading hotels, modern retail chains, corporates, wholesalers, bakeries and stand-alone stores. We are also quickly growing in the online segment and are one of the top rated brands and a category driver on Amazon India.
What sets Flyberry apart from the rest?
The USP of our products is their uniqueness, high, consistent quality, and our sharp focus on health and nutrition, which drives us to bring in and offer only clean, all natural products with no added sugar, preservative, or chemicals. Since we import directly, we also offer products at competitive prices and present them in interesting formats and packaging such as smaller snack packs that are typically designed to appeal to the health-conscious young consumers of the day.
The brand itself is young, vibrant, and fun. We believe that the category has the potential to appeal to health-conscious millennials and our brand’s tone and colours reflect that belief. If a Flyberry date brings a smile to your face and our packaging draws a chuckle, we’ve done our job!
Tell us about the import and export market. What are the challenges that you face in general? What are the pros and cons of building an FMCG start-up today?
There are unique challenges every young company faces in the early years. India as a market is opening up and consumers are willing to try new brands, thanks to the internet making customer outreach cheaper and easier. However, creating points of distribution of sale require intensive capital investment and a dedicated team to match the scale of the business. The support of investors wasn’t possible until a few years ago, which made venturing into FMCG all the more risky. Not to mention the high taxes the brand has to pay to import the best products from around the world. But these are just stepping stones for us. The promise of a good product and the consumer’s appetite for quality are reassuring for a company like ours.
– as told to Zainab