Vegolution: Upping the protein quotient
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Round it off, and you get one gram of protein for every one kilogram of body weight. And if you are planning to lose weight, increasing your protein intake becomes all the more important. Sadly, most Indians, even if they can afford it, don’t eat enough protein to fulfill that requirement.
The reason is not far off to seek. “In India, the number of vegetarian meal moments far exceed non-vegetarian. A large number of vegetarians and mostly-vegetarians struggle to find sufficient variety in their daily diet that fits their taste profile as well as provides the essential protein and nutrition they want,” says Siddharth Ramasubramanian, founder and CEO, Vegolution, a foodtech startup.
It is to address this glaring nutrition gap in the Indian vegetarian diet that Vegolution has come up with a 100% vegetarian protein-rich bean-based food ingredient called Tempayy, under the brand name Hello Tempayy, that easily fits into the modern Indian kitchen in ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat formats. “Our non-GMO soybeans are primarily sourced from Madhya Pradesh. All our marinades are also sourced and produced locally,” says Ramasubramanian. “We were in constant dialogue with nutritionists during the development of the product. They validated the gap in the market and encouraged us to address not just the protein gap but also the Vitamin B12 and iron deficiency in India.”
Two other important factors also played an important role in Vegolution’s debut in the superfood segment. “First, consumers have become more conscious about food and health as a result of the Covid pandemic. Second, metro-dwellers are starved for time and as a result, are looking for ready to cook and eat options that are easy to pull together,” he adds.
The Hello Tempayy range of ready-to-cook and eat products are priced Rs 130-Rs 150 for 200 gm, enough for serving 3-4 people. While there are many supplements (bars and shakes) entering the niche superfood segment, Vegolution has focused on the main meals where it sees a large gap.
As Ramasubramanian explains, Indians, who mostly consume vegetarian food whether at home, at restaurants or at social gatherings and are looking for power-packed nutrition, lack sufficient choices on the main plate.
“It has been especially eye-opening to speak to modern Indian consumers and see their willingness to experiment and discover new foods. The next generation of consumers view branded foods with a different filter that is more multi-dimensional— taste, health and sustainability,” he points out.
Ramasubramanian started Vegolution in mid-2019 along with his friend, Los Angeles-based Rajit Malhotra, a seasoned foodtech, health and wellness investor and entrepreneur and former McKinsey managing partner. Based in Bengaluru, the startup is self-funded by the founders, along with a group of strategic individual investors. “We have raised $1.5 million including the founders’ seed capital. The investors who participated in this round include KS Narayanan, former president at VKL Seasonings; Ashok Barat, former CEO at Forbes Company; and Robert Boughner, former CEO of the US-based Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa,” says Ramasubramanian.
Customers can buy Hello Tempayy products in Bengaluru through the hellotempayy website and on select e-commerce platforms such as Big Basket, Vegan Dukan and others.
“We have a B2C plan which includes online channels followed by modern and general trade distribution. We will quickly follow up with our B2B channel strategy to supply to food manufacturers and the HORECA (hotels, restaurants, cafes) segment as consumers look to find new healthy alternatives across the board. Our audience comprises two distinct groups of conscious foodies— vegetarians and non-vegetarians looking to reduce their meat consumption,” he says.
“Over the last year, we focused extensively on establishing product-market fit because we believe that we have a very large addressable market. As a result, we deployed our resources on India-specific product R&D and development, flavour profiling and consumer trials,” he says.