Aazol: From Rural Roots to a National Brand

Aazol: From Rural Roots to a National Brand

A Family Affair Rooted in Tradition

Aazol isn't your typical food brand. Founded by a dynamic mother-son duo, Apurva and Siddharth Purohit, Aazol is a mission-driven company that celebrates Maharashtrian cuisine while empowering rural women. Apurva, a seasoned businesswoman, brings her experience to the table, while Siddharth, a young entrepreneur, injects a contemporary perspective.

Apurva Purohit is a veteran media businesswoman with over 30 years of experience in the corporate world, building and scaling up a diverse set of businesses. An independent director and advisor on various boards, she has also been a leading voice in the Indian business landscape, advocating for gender diversity. She is the author of two national bestselling books, Lady, You’re Not a Man – The Adventures of a Woman at Work and Lady, You’re the Boss!

Siddharth Purohit, a Gen-Y entrepreneur, comes from a strong management consultancy background with over five years of experience at Kearney. Pursuing a range of academic interests from diverse institutions including Bombay Scottish, Northeastern University (Finance), and University College London (Organisational Psychology), he has also spent large swathes of time exploring places less traveled, from Okinawa to Jamaica. A compassionate and sincere individual, Siddharth is motivated by the urge to reduce the inequities that plague our society. Like his mother, his vision for Aazol is backed by a strong urge to facilitate financial independence for women while introducing the world to the authentic flavors of Maharashtra.

 

 

The Seeds of Aazol

A chance encounter at a rural entrepreneurs' exhibition sparked the Aazol journey. Apurva was captivated by the variety and quality of traditional Maharashtrian food products showcased by Self-Help Groups (SHGs). From flavorful spices to regional classics, these products were hidden gems waiting to be shared with the world.

Building a Marketplace for Change

Apurva recognized the potential for these SHGs to create a sustainable livelihood. However, they lacked the platform and resources to reach a wider audience. Coupled with the fact that these products were 100% authentic and superior in quality to department store products, the idea of Aazol started taking root.

“The first time we purchased these products at the exhibition, we realized that even though the product in itself is 100% authentic and of great quality, the presentation and packaging needed to be worked upon. For instance, they used simple plastic bags for masalas and repurposed Bisleri bottles for liquids. Additionally, they were incapable of generating this demand for themselves throughout the year. We realized that this is where we can make a difference. By introducing these authentic regional products to the world, we could help create the demand and, in turn, income for these rural communities,” says Siddharth, Co-founder at Aazol.

Aazol was born from the desire to bridge this gap, offering authentic Maharashtrian food experiences while empowering these rural communities.

 

The Journey Began

Aazol didn't take shortcuts. Siddharth meticulously sourced the best quality products from various SHGs. Blind taste tests ensured only the most authentic and superior options made it to their online store.

What was initially supposed to be a weekend project soon turned into a full-time investment for Siddharth as he left his consulting life behind towards the end of 2020. Since then, he’s dedicated all his time and energy towards building Aazol and has been joined by his mother full-time since July 2021.


“For many months, the key effort was to find the best quality products among the SHGs. We’ve had taste testing sessions where our tasters have been seated around the table while we debated over which among the nine Goda Masalas that we had sourced from various SHGs was the most authentic and superior in quality. Most FMCG brands launch with 3-4 products at the most. We wanted to launch with a range of products that presented a holistic picture of Maharashtra’s culinary culture, which is why we decided to launch with 32 products from no less than 12 different SHGs!” adds Siddharth. “We don’t want to be a boutique brand at weekend markets selling just organic Thalipeeth Bhajani. We aim to build a large-scale FMCG brand, as only scale will bring in the 
revenue and development at the rural level to truly benefit these SHG communities! All upliftment including better infrastructure, utilities and other such amenities will come in only if we bring scale.”


A Strategic Approach to Scaling

Aazol has a clear roadmap for growth. Building brand awareness and implementing a targeted marketing strategy are key components. Their website includes recipe cards, encouraging exploration and purchase. Social media and video content creation are part of the plan to delve deeper into Maharashtra's diverse food culture.

The Aazol - Marmeto Experience in Siddharth’s Words

“Many undertakings in the Aazol journey have been new experiences for us. Initially, we were on a fact-finding expedition. Should we be on Shopify or Magento? Which is the best logistics partner? Should you hire a tech agency or get an in-house team? After a lot of conversation, including with Saurav, to whom we had been introduced by Epigamia and mCaffeine, Shopify emerged as the best option as a tech platform and Marmeto as our tech partner.


All of our partners and collaborators to date come from a grounded thought process and feel like a natural extension of the in-house team. They are definitely logical, skilled, and methodical in their work but at the core of it, they are extremely nice, genuine, and positive people. In my experience, the niceness of an individual does not take away from their competence or abilities, and that’s a trait we admire in Saurav as well. I believe that an organization's culture is set by the team leader and Saurav being representative of this culture definitely sealed the deal for Marmeto.

As a result of our experience, I’m very keen on working with Saurav and the team for many months and years to come. Aazol and Marmeto’s Phase 1 project is just the first in what will hopefully be a series of projects in the future!”


The Future of the Aazol-Marmeto Partnership

“We’re looking forward to upgrading to Shopify Plus really soon. That will give us a lot more control over the customer journey and brand experience, especially in the last stages of the funnel. Similarly, we’re also looking to onboard a subscription-based model for better customer retention. We’re currently in the process of analyzing our Phase 1 website traffic data to understand the heatmaps and gauge the reactions of the audience we’re targeting. We have over-achieved on our first-month target and the team is really excited and motivated for the next quarter’s plan! We’re very clear that we do not intend to be an unsustainable start-up looking for scale by increasing burns. Instead, we will focus on quick break-evens and sustainable growth,” says Siddharth.

When asked to sum up his experience with us in a sentence, Siddharth says, “The relationship that Marmeto, and especially Saurav, has so successfully been able to cultivate with us has provided the foundation of what will undoubtedly be a long-term association.” And we are just as excited about the partnership with Aazol too!

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