Exclusive Interview With Shark Tank Contestant: How This Happened? Biggest Takeaways? Message For Entrepreneurs?
We recently spoke with Kamini Jha, a contestant who appeared in Shark Tank India, the hugely popular business reality show.
She represented Happy Bars, a startup focused on nutritious yet tasty food.
Here are the excerpts.
On how it all happened, and how Happy Bars got selected to appear on TV..
It just happened by chance. Somebody had forwarded us the details that Shark Tank was coming to India.
Just like that, we filled the form and gave them all our details and got selected.
On what the Shark Tank experience was like..
From being a hardcore fan of Shark Tank US, when I started my own entrepreneur journey I remember watching all the episodes.
From being a hardcore fan, viewer and admirer of the show to being in front of the Sharks, to be in the tank pitching with the best of the entrepreneurs out there, it was so so beautiful.
It was such a huge learning for us, we learned a lot of things like how you pitch in front of so many cameras, so many lights and what a brilliant journey it was to meet so many entrepreneurs from different walks of life and different parts of India pitching such brilliant products.
On her company, its mission, plans for the next 5 years, if they’ve received funding..
How we started Happy Bars is with the mission to get people to eat clean nutritious food which is also very healthy because the world somehow has a notion that healthy food cannot be tasty and we are constantly trying to change that point of view.
We have 3 products right now. One, we started as the flagship product which is called Happy Bars Natural.
Then we entered the vegan market with a product called Happy Bars Coco.
Then there is a protein bar which has 12 grams of protein in each bar.
Now, we have also launched a 20 gram protein bar.
We are slowly trying to enter the savory or snacks market so something like roasted almonds will be the next thing that we’re working on.
We are also launching a diabetic friendly bar because India has slowly become the capital of diabetes in the world very sadly.
So we are coming up with nuts and seeds, pulp of kala jamun and powder of the kala jamun seeds because kala jamun in Ayurveda is called the (?) for diabetics.
For the next 5 years, we are going to make an ecosystem for fitness, wellness and sports.
We are slowly going to introduce fitness trackers for fitness apps and try to build an ecosystem, bringing on the best of the trainers to the platform, offering people more in the fitness & wellness category, that is what our plans are.
We are trying for funding but have not received it yet. But i’m sure it is going to happen soon so till now we are self sustained.
It started as bootstrapped but we are going to get funded soon.
On her biggest takeaways and learnings from Shark Tank..
I think meeting the amazing, amazing entrepreneurs from everywhere all across India, understanding how your startups should be, what your mission should be, vision should be.
It is not necessary that you have to be from the top B-school or coming from a very rich family.
I understand after being in Shark Tank that it’s just the idea right?
If the idea is right and you’re trying to take care of the larger problem out there, and it is valid, then it is going to rock as a startup.
My greatest learnings have, of course, been learning how to shoot, how to pitch in front of the biggest Sharks of India.
The feedback we received from the Sharks was amazing and very very helpful.
They constantly gave us ideas as to how we can better the whole thing, the marketing, the strategy and how the marketing should help us.
Most of the Sharks said that they loved the product and that is a huge huge validation out there.
We already have been validated with thousands of people pan India but the feedback coming from Sharks was amazing.
The greatest learnings will have to be the feedback, the people you met on the set.
You know, we have groups now where a lot of entrepreneurs are connected to each other.
On her advice to entrepreneurs trying to make it big..
There is only one suggestion- it is going to be tough.
The only thing you have to continue thinking is why did you start this? With what motto did you start this? And just focus on your goal.
There are people who are going to say that your idea is not good, people who are going to demotivate you.
But just look for customers’ feedback, what they’re telling you and constantly asking you to do more.
It is going to be tough but you need perseverance to make it big.
On her history and journey with the company..
I have been an IT girl who was very happy in her corporate life and then one fine day I had the startup keeda (worm) bite me.
We started our own cryptocurrency startup which was based out of Estonia, Europe.
We were ready to launch the product and that’s when we were told by the government of India that we cannot run this since cryptocurrency is illegal here.
Then we ran a cafe together with a bunch of friends in Hyderabad and then I think about 2019 we were traveling to Kedarnath.
We were trekking actually. When you go trekking you carry a lot of dry fruits, energy bars, because you do not have time and patience to have a full fledged meal.
We compared the taste of the energy bars and found Happy Bars to be so much better than the other bars.
Being food driven and passionate people, we read the labels of all the bars. Then we understood that Happy Bars was the only bar which was as nutritious label-wise as much as tasty it was.
All the other bars we carried had a lot of preservatives and junk.
What surprised me was that it was a bar manufactured in Hyderabad.
I actually called the customer care number and said, “What a brilliant bar you guys have made”.
I actually wanted to come down and congratulate them because we being passionate foodies and travelers are crazy about good food and the bars tasted brilliant and had amazing nutritional value.
I went to their office, met the people there and I met somebody called Mahesh Verma who is the director of operations.
He made me meet the CEO and founder.
We talked about food, passion and travel. Then we realised that we were very much aligned and then I was suggesting that since I had run a cafe already I could recommend some food changes, different recipes.
I think 3 or 6 months down there he asked me why don’t you come full time right. That is how it happened and I just jumped in without thinking anything else.
On what excites her..
What excites me, if you ask me, is that I hate PPTs. But for me PPT means people, passion and travel.
I get to meet a lot of new people from various industries and backgrounds.
I get to work on my passion which is great and I get to travel a lot.
So that’s what excites me, the building of the whole ecosystem of fitness, wellness and sport.
If I had to give advice to anybody, I would say follow your passion.
The money, fame and all the other materialistic things that people will measure your success on will follow.
So, my PPT is People Passion Travel. That’s what excites me.