In a conversation with Ashna Goel, co-founder and director of MilkinOats where she reveals how SDA Bocconi Asia Center played a pivotal role in inspiring her to start an entrepreneurial journey.
The big idea – Why MilkinOats?
In India, we come across a few dairy-free alternatives like almond milk and soy milk but none of them can be a substitute for dairy milk (cow’s milk). None of these dairy-free alternatives can be heated, boiled, and used in tea, coffee, Indian gravies, and desserts, among others.
During my travel to Italy for the 4th semester of my masters at SDA Bocconi, I came across various dairy-free milk alternatives in the supermarket which made me dive deep into the characteristics of each dairy-free milk alternative. After research, I figured out that oat milk is the perfect dairy-free milk which has a great product-market fit because of its characteristics that match cow’s milk.
It has a very smooth, creamy, and rich consistency and it can be boiled and foamed making it perfect for cappuccinos, lattes, smoothies, and other beverages. Oats, in general, has a lot of health benefits since it is rich in dietary fibres, omega-3 and other nutrients which makes it a product to be consumed by all. In addition to this, as we read every day about eco-friendliness, we also found that oats are a highly sustainable food grain.
These thoughts eventually led to the starting of MilkinOats along with Vishwesh J. Nair, a colleague from my previous employer.
Inspiration – what motivated you to start your own business?
I was always motivated enough to start my own business. From the second year of my graduation, I knew what I wanted to do in the future, and I decided to pursue International Master in Business at SDA Bocconi Asia Center. During the 2-years at SDA Bocconi Asia Center, I took up various internships, live
projects and built my network and confidence which was required for my entrepreneurial journey. I had my goal and aims defined.
What are the Co-founder’s objectives and goals for MilkinOats?
Our goals and objectives are to shift food consumption habits from animal-based products to sustainable plant-based food and beverages. We want to achieve this by delivering products that have maximum nutritional value that is affordable and accessible to all. Our objective is to bring in a vegan revolution in India.
How is Milkinoats different (sectorial comparison)?
MilkinOats is just about Oats. We plan to make all the products out of oats and oat milk. In addition to this, our primary product i.e. Oatmilk is one of its kind which foams remarkably unlike any other dairy-free alternative.
What are the future plans?
Currently, we have Barista’s Choice Oatmilk and Oatmilk Chocolates with two variants: Chalet Velvety and Chalet Almond Crunch along with Lite Oat Bites. We are currently diversifying into skincare segment where products will be made primarily from oats and oat milk since oats has a lot of skin benefits as well.
Six months down the line, we plan to expand our food and beverages range by adding RTD flavours of oat milk, cold brews, oat milk cheese, dips, mayos, butter ice cream, yoghurt, the list goes on!
We consider the entire dairy and non-dairy sector are our competitors.
Your advice to the IMB aspirants and early-stage entrepreneurs.
My advice to IMB aspirants will be that it’s okay to not have a plan but what is not okay is to take two years of IMB for granted. Make the best use of these two years as this shall help you in the long term. Also, my advice to early-stage entrepreneurs is that the journey won’t be easy rather it will be an extremely difficult one with various high and low points but don’t lose hope, have confidence in your idea because if you are confident only then you can convince people to become your customers.
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Written by Ayushi Dixit and Padmavathy Srinivasan