Dr. Swetha Sandesh has a straightforward message for all those aspiring to become entrepreneurs: Enter the field only if you have the passion to do something, and not just to mint money. “It’s a very tough field, and sometimes you face a lot of resistance, even from family members. You think you’ll be your own boss and that’s it, but you end up doing everything.”
Perhaps this flair to do good and impact the world is why a major failure in her entrepreneurial journey hasn’t deterred Dr. Swetha from aiming for the stars. “The original plan was to establish an analytical laboratory. But that fell apart due to financial constraints, and in 2016 we had to shut that part of the business down.”
Dr. Swetha, a Ph.D. in Chemistry, began working in her husband’s company which was later divided due to unforeseen circumstances. “We wanted to branch into this field and set up a lab, but that plan didn’t come through.” After 2016, though, they ventured into a field which Dr. Swetha describes as a mixture of their passion for research and business. “Coconut value-added products were a hit in the market. Soon we were supplying fresh coconut water to large hotels. Our products are totally preservatives-free.” Niranthara’s tender coconut division tries to get to its customers the freshest of coconuts within 24 hours such that they remain contaminant-free.
Dr. Swetha and her husband have founded the company on a very strict principle of doing good to the world. They try to achieve that aim via striving to be a zero-waste company. “It’s a lot of financial investment into making our company a zero-waste entity, but we’re trying to do so by our own little efforts. We work such that none of our products cause any harm to any human being, animal or plant life.”
The pandemic forced Niranthara to change its strategy and target audience, but it worked out for the best. “We were primarily a B2B company before the pandemic struck. With hotels and tourism clamped down. We had to make a shift towards online marketing.” That direct connection with the consumer was easier on their pockets, since the logistics of transporting the coconuts to the vendor, BigBasket, was already in place.
Growtherator has helped Dr. Swetha update her financial acumen. She’s more comfortable with Excel now, and has learnt skills which allow her to run diagnostics on business well. “But the real treat has been the cohort they have chosen. Connecting with other entrepreneurs has allowed me to penetrate their market demographic. With that I’m moving towards B2C since my usual channels of hotel chains are hit hard by the pandemic.”
With the successful tender coconut business, Niranthara aims to fund its analytical lab itself. Dr. Swetha and her husband are working hard throughout the year to make sure of that. The downside of such dedication is the conflicts one faces with their families. “I regret not being able to spend a lot of time with my child as other mothers do. Even our families do not support us sometimes. Whenever business is good, our families rejoice, but when we see harsh times, we also face harsh criticism at home for choosing such a line. Now we keep all our business woes to ourselves.”