First Bud Organics’ office is a busy place. You wonder if the owner Mitresh Sharma has previous experience as a juggler - as he effortlessly switches between orders, following up with suppliers, handling customer queries and planning the way for his Organic foods startup. The young 30 something entrepreneur admits that he still has a long way to go before achieving the goals he has set for himself and the young company that he started in 2018.
Selling What People Need
Like most startups, First Bud Organics also started with a simple idea. People are interested in buying non-toxic, Organic and healthy food items but don’t know where to buy them? Enter a Dehradun-based company that procurers these organic foods directly from the farmers and producers and then packages and sells them online. Simple enough? But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Mitresh shares with us the long list of challenges he faced, to first put his idea to test and then turn it into a workable business model.
From Choas to Order
He recounts how his degree in Entrepreneurship Management from XLRI, Jamshedpur or his experience as a Digital marketer had not prepared him for the real-world challenges that he had to deal with. He was hardly a Greenhorn – having co-founded a digital marketing start-up Viral Waves, after his stint with a Korean Digital Marketing company. However, Organic food procurement, packaging and delivery posed its own set of problems. The first, of course, was identifying the products that the consumer would be interested in buying, then procuring them through reliable suppliers and lastly to deliver them fresh.
First Bud Organics is now investing heavily in product innovation to ensure that its products reach the customer farm-fresh – as quickly and safely as possible.
It’s the Quality that Matters
Mitresh shares that he found that unlike an Electronic or Clothing product, there is no standardization in organic consumables. So his company started with setting about standards that are followed in every product that they procure and deliver to the customer. In a space of just 2 years, First Bud Organics has built up a portfolio of Ayurvedic immunity boosters and other high-quality products and is delivering Herbal loose Leaf Tea, Chai Masala, Organic Homemade Pickle, Lakadong Turmeric, Organic Honey, Tulsi Drops, Apple Cider Vinegar and a variety of Super Seeds. They ensure that the products have the right blend of traditional Indian Ayurvedic benefits while retaining the classic aroma. The company also tests all its products in the laboratory to keep a stringent check on the quality. Another important aspect is ensuring that the products are packed in hygienic conditions and that the moisture is not absorbed.
Mother’s Recipe to Procurement Chain
While fondly recalling that he started with a variant of Herbal tea and Homemade Pickle, borrowing the recipes from his mother’s kitchen, Mitresh shares his current progress and plans. First Bud Organics started with an average of 25-30 orders per month and is today dispatching more than 5000 orders per month. He thinks that part of the reason for the company’s phenomenal success is the focus on quality and listening to the customer. For the first part, the organization has focused on building a complete chain - from farm procurement to production, packaging and delivery. For the second part, they take customer feedback seriously, which has resulted in better packaging and introduction of new homemade products like Pickle, Jam and Chai Masala as per customer demand.
As conventional wisdom goes, listening to your customers always gets your reward. For First Bud Organics this has resulted in not just more orders, but repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth publicity.
While India was in lockdown and life came to a standstill, for some organizations COVID-19 turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As people everywhere woke up to the need of maintaining hygiene, social distancing and improving immunity, both immunity-booster drugs and organic food items rose in the ‘buy list’ of people pan-India. For Mitresh and his startup, this was an exciting time. The company witnessed a huge surge in demand and doubled up sales during this period. Such was the spike in demand and the momentum that is continuing that while the company’s sale have gone 2x
Customers love the idea of a company that procures organic tea from reputed tea estates of Darjeeling and Assam region and Organic Tulsi from the Garhwal Region. Or the fact that its products are packaged in Uttarakhand and Jahrkhand - a pristine region that is free from chemicals, pesticide, pollution, and dusty environment.
Employees and Work Culture
Like every startup, First Bud Organics thrives on a high-energy level and is constantly buzzing with activity. Its employees are a mix of a young and experienced lot and the organisation thrives to maintain an employee's physical and mental well being. Its nature of work constrains it to have an on-site workforce; however, the management ensures that all safety precautions and protocols are followed to ensure employee safety in the backdrop of COVID. It also follows all government and Health department’s advisories and guidelines for sorting, packaging and delivering the products to its customers with minimum direct Human touch.
Reward and Recognition
The office of First Bud Organics is decorated with the various awards and citation that it has received in the space of a mere 2 years. This includes Silicon India’s recognition as one of the ‘10 Most Promising Tea & Coffee Brands’ in 2018. Business Connect’s citation as an ‘Innovative Solution Provider in Food & Beverages’ in 2019 and listing as a promising brand at Amazon launchpad. Mitresh Sharma, the founder, has also been named as an ‘Entrepreneur in Focus 2020’ by Innovative Zone.
Preparing for Future
While building a base with online customers on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, First Bud Organics is planning to tie up with other premium marketplaces, including offline stores. Its plans include exporting the products and also raising funds with Angel Investors to finance its growth. Mitresh confesses that he still has a long way to go before becoming the Numero Uno seller of high-quality Organic foods in India.
As the sun starts to set in the west, the founder of one of the fastest-growing startups in Organic foods space looks the lush greenery of the farm, where he is on a site visit. The richness of the aroma coming from the organic farm takes him back to his childhood days .
Mitresh Sharma confirms that First Bud Organics’ Herbal Teas have been consistently growing in popularity and finding new customers around the world. The reason is the superior quality of the organic teas that the company sources from reputed tea estates of Darjeeling and Assam region, and Organic Tulsi from the Garhwal Region.
"Tea is best brewed in loose form. Whole leaf teas that have best aroma and taste and release their extracts slowly. Our Teas are Whole leaf teas as against broken leaf, Fanning and Dust. Our Herbal Green teas, where we blend herbs with Green teas so that it is healthy and Bitter taste of Green teas is suppressed by Herbal taste. We use Only top 'Bud and two Leaves' considered as premium pluck," Mitresh confirms proudly.
All of First Bud Organics' products are showcased on its Website – https://www.firstbud.in
and can also be bought from its Amazon storefront - https://amzn.to/3639STv
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.