Ms Parul Sharma, Woman Entrepreneur & Co-founder of Gladful

Parul Sharma

Interview with Ms Parul Sharma, Woman Entrepreneur & Co-founder of Gladful

Ms. Parul Sharma is an FMCG veteran with 14 years of CPG experience working with brands like Cadbury Gems & Five Stars at Mondelez India.

Having worked extensively with the target audience of mothers and children gave her an in-depth understanding of their needs and desires.

Can you tell us about your journey as a co-founder of Gladful and how the idea for protein food and snacking products came about?

Parul Sharma: Gladful was an epiphany that arose from a personal pain point. A mundane pediatric consultancy for her kids led Parul to realize how protein deficiency can affect a child’s growth and daily activity.

Gladful was an epiphany that arose from a personal pain point. I was taken aback by one of my kids being protein deficient.

As a result, I experienced a great deal of self-blame, anxiety, and guilt about not being a good parent. After this, I took the matter into my hand and dove deep into the sea of food & nutrition.

I was surprised when I found out that our typical Indian diet doesn’t have the amount of protein we need. Secondly, unlike fats, proteins can’t be stored in our bodies, so they must be consumed daily!

That is when I parted ways from my 15 years long corporate journey and decided to start my own venture along with my younger brother Manu (i.e. Gladful) where nutrition and taste could co-exist.  For more about Gladful details (our story section):

Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey.

Parul Sharma: Dream big, start small but most importantly start. Being an entrepreneur can be both exciting and challenging.

While the idea of creating something new can be thrilling, the process of starting and growing a business can also be intimidating.

It requires a lot of conviction and strength to make decisions like that. But the ability to pursue your passions could be incredibly fulfilling. 

It was pretty shocking for my parents when, both my younger brother Manu and I decided to quit our jobs to start our venture.

The idea of letting go of me letting go of an organisation that I loved terrified them and they spent evenings discussing things I would be letting go: stable income, a chance to grow further in the same firm, and a great team.

But after a while I convinced them. It’s funny how even though I am a mom of two, I needed to have an alignment with my parents before I started Gladful.

Within the first 12 months of the company’s existence, we have crossed 3 crores in revenue with strong gross margins.

We have solidified our presence in two categories: Protein Snacks and Protein Breakfasts. The company is listed on more than 15 online portals including quick commerce channels.

5 out of our 10 protein-rich snacks were also listed on Amazon’s Top 10.  We were recently featured on Shark Tank and it was a eureka moment.

Watching ourselves on national television was exciting as well as nerve-wracking. Soon after the episode aired, we were bombarded with sweet messages from friends, families, and our early believers.

It is amazing to see other people believe in your intent as well. We now have a verified community of   protein enthusiasts on Instagram and a 70K+ strong consumer base. We are now backed by strong and influential sharks like Amit Jain, Aman Gupta, and Namita Thapar.

Kindly brief us about Gladful, its specialization, and the products that it offers

Parul Sharma: Gladful was founded with a vision to change the course of health and nutrition for Indian children & families.

We are focussing on creating foods families crave with the protein they deserve. Our focus is to build high protein & fiber versions of foods currently on Indian dining tables, not only for gym-goers but everyone.

We are starting by solving Indian moms’ struggle to make school tiffin boxes healthier and more accessible with their highly distinctive protein pre-sprouted mixes, protein cookies, and dates & nut-based desserts.

Apart from that, we aim to simplify consumption of superfoods like sprouts, millet, amaranth, lobia, dates, nuts, and seeds. 

We also plan to launch more products with a strong base of lentils, millets, and sprouts.  Throughout our last year’s journey, we have served more than 70,000 customers pan-India, expanded our product portfolio, got selected to be a part of Shark Tank 2, and got a 3-shark deal.

How do Gladful’s products differentiate from other protein food and snack products currently available?

Parul Sharma: While protein is the building block of the human body and the lack of it impacts muscle growth, immunity, and oxygenation of cells, hormones, hair, skin, and nails.

Most protein brands in India cater to the health-conscious gym-goer population, resulting in protein insufficiency in atypical Indian families with children.

Gladful is focussing on creating foods families crave with the protein they deserve. We are starting by solving for Indian families with easily accessible, inexpensive, and highly digestible protein pre-mixes, protein cookies, and date nut-based dessert bites.

We also are reviving the sprouting heritage with our spiced pre-mixes made with sprouted moong, amaranth, lobia, millets, and other legumes for extra nourishment.

These are gluten-free & high-protein sprouted mixes that are easy to make and can fit into the taste bud & lifestyle of Modern India.

At present, we are the only brand to incorporate pea & rice protein to make cookies. Pea protein is high in iron and can help with muscle building, weight loss, and heart health.

Rice protein includes important amino acids that have the potential to manage blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels.

Our Date Nut Squares is an ideal pick-me-up snack for kids & families and a great way to satisfy your sweet needs. Sweetened with delicious dates, berries, and fruits, these squares simplify the ingestion of nuts and seeds.

What inspired you to focus on protein-based products, and how do you ensure the quality and nutritional value of your products?

Parul Sharma: During our time of research, we discovered the evident loopholes in the Indian food & nutrition market.

We studied eating habits and interviewed more than 100 parents to get a better understanding of their needs and requirements.

We found out that many popular kids & families’ food brands overlooked ingredients like sprouted moong, amaranth, and other legumes which have been in culture for too long.

We then decided we would utilize such unique ingredients to create our products.  We became the only brand in India to use pea protein, rice protein, and milk protein to make delicious cookies. 

We are the only brand to use superfoods like amaranth and lobia to make spiced pre-mixes that are high in protein and fiber.

Gladful as a brand, truly understands ways in which we can add natural and highly digestible source protein which can easily be fitted into an Indian family’s everyday diet.

How do you approach marketing and branding for Gladful, and what channels have been the most effective in reaching your target audience

Parul Sharma: Our outreach initiatives are driven by solving problems for Indian moms and their families. We create content that educates modern parents about nutrition and also eases their life with simple and wholesome recipes.

From performance marketing creatives to reels on Instagram, everything is ingredients and nutrition centric.

The intent is to create a safe space for all parents and add benefits to their daily life. We receive a lot of love from mothers across and nation and share their recipes/tips with other parents to try out as well.

What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur?

Parul Sharma: My primary motivation was to better my kids’ health and diet but with the food and beverage experience that I have for over the last 15 years, I soon realised I was in a unique position to build something not only for my kids but for all the kids of this country. 

When I started my research for Gladful, I realised more than 93% of mothers did not know the functions of proteins.

A lot of them believed that protein was essential but did not know how much was enough. Surprisingly, more than 73% of urban kids are found protein deficient, we soon realised there are not many kids & family brands addressing this particular issue.

For me personally, it was also a journey of self-reflection as I was also trying to bring change in the way we thought about food as a family.

To date, we get queries from customers about protein and its functionality. Educating our customers and people about healthy and sustainable is challenging, but we will keep doing it.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Parul Sharma: The only tip for an aspiring entrepreneur would be to frame a clear hypothesis and test it out in a micro market.

You can start small. For example: Participate in a society/ school event, put up a small stall and see how customers in real life respond to your products.

Make a website and see how many people are actually landing on your page and interacting. The moment you see a potential consumer base, you know you have something that can be scaled.

The new-age consumers (the top 2% of digitally fluent buyers) need solutions tailored to them. This means they are very clear about their needs.

They seek a unique experience and price point and also believe in building a connection with the brand.

If you are a D2C brand, you need to put all hands on deck when it comes to creating a great experience for their consumers. Be conscious of the change and strong enough to adjust to it quickly.

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