Protein foods brand Gladful raises pre-seed funding from Antler India
Gladful, an online protein foods brand for kids and families, has raised pre-seed funding from Antler India.
Gladful is creating various food and snacking products that combine formulation innovation, fantastic taste and nutritional functionality. In a country where more than 73% of the urban population is protein deficient, Gladful aims to become the country’s largest healthy food and snacking brand for kids and families, enabled by a community of passionate parents. By designing functional foods and snacks, Gladful’s vision is to solve India’s protein and other nutritional deficiencies.
Gladful is founded by Parul Sharma, a CPG veteran who has spent 14+ years leading some of India’s most loved brands, including Cadbury at Mondelez International. She led brands like Cadbury Silk, Gems, 5 star and Cadbury Dairy Milk, and later headed Modern Trade sales for the organization in India. She is joined by co-founder Manu Sharma, ex–founding team member at Instacash. The idea of Gladful was influenced by Parul’s personal experience when she was asked to significantly increase protein content in her 9 year old child’s diet. She built her own version of a protein calculator only to realize that meeting the daily protein RDA for active pre-teens is not easy for an Indian household, and becomes tougher when the products that do exist are not kid-friendly or difficult to incorporate into a kid’s routine.
“Protein is the most ignored macro nutrient in Indian meals, with many myths surrounding its consumption. Interestingly, the situation is not very different in non-vegetarian households. 73% of urban rich including kids are deficient in protein. Through Gladful, we are working to change this. We are co-building with nutritionists and moms across the country to seamlessly fit protein in daily diets and tiffin boxes. We want kids to reach for our products, instead of being forced on them. Since kids snack frequently throughout the day, we want this to be the entry point. Protein deficiency is a very real, but invisible challenge facing India and we’re on a mission to solve that by developing pioneering products.”, says Parul, Co-founder and Chief–mom at Gladful.
While preparing for product launch, the Gladful founders received inputs from over 1,000 parents across the country who shared their eating habits, categories, occasions and challenges with respect to getting their children to eat healthy. With this research, and working closely with nutritionists and food specialists, Gladful launched in December with their first product – 100% vegetarian, mini baked cookie bites fortified with rice, pea and milk protein. Made with unrefined cane sugar, these products do not contain ‘maida’ (white flour), trans fats or cholesterol and deliver at least 20% of daily protein requirement per serving. As a tasty snack, the baked cookie bites can fit in any child’s daily tiffin.
Co-investors in the round include Huddle Accelerator, Shiprocket via their program RocketfuelXHuddle and angel investors such as Ankita Vashistha from StrongHer Ventures & Encubay Angel Network and Paavan Nanda, co-founder WinZO Games. The funds will be utilized towards strengthening the innovation funnel and amplifying marketing efforts.
Rajiv Srivatsa, Partner at Antler India, adds, “At Antler, health and wellness is one of the themes we are focusing on, including aspects around the larger problem statement of unlocking human potential. Nutritional deficiency in children and its subsequent impact on their growth are some of the most basic but unsolved challenges in the country today. The prevailing protein deficiency in the Indian diet presents a massive opportunity for the development of nutrition brands that place innovation at the forefront. Parul and Manu form a strong team and are uniquely positioned to tackle this problem - bringing rare expertise built on years of category experience and consumer understanding, coupled with founding member experience at an early stage startup. With Gladful, they are on the mission to redefine healthy snacking by developing the country’s first parent-led protein brand for kids and families. Leveraging current trends like health consciousness while driving product innovation through community and consumer feedback, Gladful has the potential to soon become one of the beloved food brands in the country.”
Earlier this year, global early-stage VC firm Antler announced a full-fledged launch in India. Antler is one of the fastest growing VC firms in the world and plans to deploy $100M to $150M in 100+ Indian startups over the next 3 years.