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This IITian and ex-Infy techie is creating India's first kiddie dairy brand

Gaurav Haran, CEO, Milklane
For 21 long years, Gaurav Haran had been associated with a single company – Infosys – where this IIT BHU alumnus had joined as a software engineer back in 1996 soon after his graduation in Metallurgy. But three years ago, Haran decided to change track and decided to work in the dairy sector--something most of techies would avoid. 

After developing India’s first industrial-scale collection and distribution platform for high quality milk over the past three years, Haran is now focussing his energies on creating what he claims will be  the first brand in ‘kids dairy’ in the country.

Using technology-driven transformational solutions at Infosys, Haran has also gained experience in new venture development, working with start-ups in Bay area for two years. He began his journey in the dairy start-up MilkLane as COO and has now driven the company to hit a Rs 100-crore revenue mark as the CEO with an FMCG plan in sight.

The Bengaluru-based start-up is investing in milking a new opportunity it sees in the B2C segment. It is betting on the kids' segment, a white space in the Indian dairy market. The company, a major part of whose revenue comes from industrial-scale collection and distribution of milk to FMCG players, is now building its own pipeline of dairy products for children between the age of 3 and 8.

“In mature markets, there is clear segmentation for catering to kids, but in India from a dairy perspective, children consume what elders do. Hence we saw this as an opportunity and would be coming up with a host of innovative products in a couple of months,” says Haran. 

After one-and-a-half years of R&D, the company has launched its Nutrinos brand focusing on kids with yoghurt as the first offering available in three flavours namely strawberry, mango and banana. After yoghurt, which comes in small packs of 50 grams and is high in vitamins and calcium and low on sugar, MilkLane would be next launching cheese-based snacks and flavored milk under the Nutrinos brand.

The company, backed by Switzerland-based agri-food investment firm Pioneering Ventures, has so far invested over Rs 10 crore on the development of these products and setting up a new production line in an existing factory near Kolar in Karnataka. After Karnataka, it will be entering other states in the South followed by Maharashtra in the west and then North India by next year. 

The company would be investing a similar amount of Rs 10 crore for each zone in setting up new production lines and brand building as it enters that region. The milk for the products would be accessed from its own procurement channel which is spread over 100 villages in the south and collects over 80,000 litres of milk everyday for supplying to players such as Parag Milk Foods and Farmgate. 

“Our ultimate aim is high and fast penetration in the kids segment which forms a 10 per cent of the $800 billion dairy market in the country,” says Haran.

MilkLane has tied up with ecommerce partners such as BigBasket, Grofers and Flipkart for online sale of its FMCG products along with a network of 600 modern retail stores where these items are sold. While continuing to grow the mother brand, it will also be launching paneer and ghee by next month under the MilkLane tag, which will put it on the competing table with national and regional players in the segment such as Amul, Mother Dairy and Nandini. These items will also be available both on online and offline channels. It already offers UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk and curd in the FMCG range. The start-up has already begun home delivery of products in Bengaluru after the nationwide lockdown was rolled out after Covid-19 outbreak.

Currently the B2C segment generates only 5 per cent of the company’s revenues while 85 per cent is earned from the B2B stream and the rest from the cattle feed segment. The company plans to scale up the revenue generation from the B2C segment significantly in the years to come through brand building, novel and quality offering.

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