“Being an entrepreneur is about facing challenges head on & a never give up attitude”

While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we are seeing several Indian start-ups achieving Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.

The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.

Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.

Aarti Gill’s mother was a healthcare professional. While growing up, she saw a lot of health problems faced by people that could have been easily avoided only if they just had a better and healthier lifestyle. This was the seed thought that led her to start OZiva, ‘making living healthy simple’. She started with the goal of enabling 100 million+ people to have a better and healthier life with clean, plant-based nutrition.

In conversation with Adgully, Aarti Gill, Co-Founder & CEO, Oziva, speaks at length about the core business proposition of Oziva, how it is the world’s first connected omni-channel nutrition brand, overcoming the challenges faced by start-ups and more.

What need gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?

OZiva’s core philosophy is to empower individuals to be fitter, healthier and better in every way. We believe that perfection is a myth. We all are trying to be a better version of ourselves every single day. And we want to ensure that on this journey of being better, you have clean, plant based nutrition – the one that your body, mind and soul truly deserve.

Living healthier is based on 3 main pillars – getting the right nutrition, physical wellness, and to reap benefits of the first two – you need to be mentally healthy as well. We decided to focus on Pillar 1, which is ensuring that the body gets the nutrition that it deserves. While we might eat a lot of food, we don’t always get the right macro, micro and other essential nutrients into the body. This is even more prominent in vegans and vegetarians. Our certified clean, plant-based nutrition range delivers the perfect blend of modern day foods and Ayurvedic Herbs to support the overall health and wellbeing of individuals.

How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?

We initially started out as a platform that offered personalised advice to users from expert coaches, nutritionists and health advisors (which now exists as a part of the OZiva ecosystem). While our goal was well defined, the business model had to go through a few iterations. Though these did not work out, it gave us a lot of insights into the market and consumer needs that helped us in the launch of OZiva.

We cater to both men and women in the age group of 18-55 years of age (majorly). With our wide range of categories like men’s and women’s fitness, general wellness, plant-based vitamins & minerals, skin & hair nutrition, we are able to cater to a broad set of audience.

What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?

Our initial business model had to go through a few iterations before we actually launched OZiva. These were challenging times as the business models did not work out the way we had planned and we soon ran out of money.

Being an entrepreneur is about being ready to face challenges head on and a never give up attitude. These are the two values that have helped us navigate through the difficult times. It is also imperative to have the right set of members in your core team, who believe in the brand’s philosophy. While hurdles are inevitable, having this support system can help overcome them and scale.

Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?

Cash is one of the major concerns for the smooth functioning of start-ups right now. Grants followed by loans are measured to be the most supportive policy instrument that start-ups could demand for. Hence, offering them with direct grants and zero-interest loans is one of the crucial steps that can be addressed by the industry and the government. Apart from this, offering access to venture capital investment, employment support schemes and promoting consumer demands can facilitate to scale up start-ups in our country.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi announced the Startup India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?

I think this is a great initiative as it opens up multiple opportunities for entrepreneurs. This would definitely promote and support the growth of the start-up ecosystem in the country. Great ideas sometimes are unable to come to life only due to the lack of funding. With this new seed fund from the Prime Minister, more and more entrepreneurs will be able to take the idea to the masses. It will facilitate in providing financial assistance to start-ups for aspects like Proof of Concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialisation.

How is digital helping you further your business?

We are the world’s first connected omni-channel nutrition brand, where people can pick up a product from anywhere and consult a human expert digitally. Through digital, we are able to reach out to a much larger audience and help them become healthier and better with certified clean, plant-based nutrition. We continue to engage with the consumers through digital content and provide value to them.

What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?

The pandemic has led to an increase in the adoption of a clean and healthier lifestyle. And this has definitely worked in our favour. There is increased awareness about clean and plant-based nutrition and the benefits offered by them like better absorption, digestion, help in building immunity, etc. Eating clean and nutritious foods is one of the main pillars of preventive healthcare, which undeniably helps in being healthier and better. We expect continued growth for the plant-based nutrition and wellness category as more and more people realise that these are not a good-to-have, but an important part of our daily lifestyle.

What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?

Every entrepreneur goes through challenges and hurdles. Be ready to face them head on. Have clearly defined goals and a strong execution plan in place to achieve them.


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