An exclusive interview with Sairaj Dhond – Founder and CEO of Wakao Foods
A serial entrepreneur at heart, Sairaj believes in a diverse business trajectory with ventures across various sectors of the market. Staying true to his vision, he has now entered the F&B space with his debut project WAKAO FOOD.
Sairaj has worn and wears many hats throughout his professional life and does justice to each new venture with finesse.
His organizational, communication, marketing, and social skills make him a formidable entrepreneur. He is constantly working with great vigor to make Goa a Green State and create a global footprint for his company.
Outside of the professional world, Sairaj is involved on the social front and is invited to various forums and colleges to inspire and mentor aspiring entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.
The interview provides a unique insight into the mind of the founder, revealing their motivations, inspirations, and aspirations for the future.
Our readers will gain valuable knowledge about the founder’s strategies, values, and future plans, as well as gain inspiration for their own entrepreneurial pursuits.
We are proud to bring this exclusive interview to our readers and look forward to sharing this valuable content with the world.
The conversation covered various aspects of the founder’s life, including their personal experiences and motivations for starting the organization.
The interview provided readers with a unique perspective on the organization and its founder, offering a glimpse into the mind of a successful entrepreneur.
Sugermint had the privilege of conducting an exclusive interview with the founder of a prominent organization.
Our publication was honored to have the opportunity to share this interview with our readers, providing them with valuable insights into the world of business and entrepreneurship.
Tell us a little about yourself
Sairaj Dhond: I have done a master’s in criminal law but I always wanted to try new ideas so I joined my family business of running restaurants briefly, then I started a real estate business which was going great until the Covid outbreak.
Then in 2020 with my own savings, I started Wakao Foods and sales started coming in from December.
Can you tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to create Wakao Foods?
Sairaj Dhond: It was a fascinating encounter. I was browsing through newspapers when I came across an article titled “Jackfruit is the World’s Superfood.”
I discovered that jackfruit is the most easily accessible fruit in India. It is locally available, locally sourced; it was even available in my own backyard as I realized that, despite the fact that I had been eating jackfruit since childhood, as a business opportunity in India, it had not been explored much, and the emphasis on health has never been more emphasized than in the last few years or so, with a large section of the population reassessing what they eat and its impact on the body, so I started Wakao foods.
Kindly brief us about Wakao Foods, its specialization, and the products that it offers
Sairaj Dhond: Wakao Foods is a mock meat brand made from ethically sourced jackfruit. Currently, Wakao foods offer ready-to-eat products that are packed imaginatively.
We have products related to jackfruit. We currently have 8 products like raw jack, continental burger patty, teriyaki jack, butter jack, BBQ jack, American herb sausage, and hot and spicy sausage. In the future, we are looking to expand.
How did you come up with the concept of using jackfruit as a vegan alternative and what was the process like to bring it to the market?
Sairaj Dhond: I was flipping through the pages of a newspaper when I came across an article titled “Jackfruit is the World’s Superfood.”
In India, I discovered that jackfruit is the most widely available fruit. It is locally available and sourced; it was even available in my backyard as I realized that, despite the fact that I had been eating jackfruit since childhood, it had not been explored much as a business opportunity in India, and jackfruit has many health benefits as well, so I came up with the idea of using jackfruit as an alternative.
What challenges have you faced while building Wakao Foods and how did you overcome them?
Sairaj Dhond: The most difficult challenge we are currently facing is product pricing. We won’t be able to determine pricing until we become a mass product on a larger scale.
As a result, we must work on our pricing, which will only change as the scale of our products and production increases.
The second thing we can do is educate the general public about veganism and our products. There is very little education on the types of products we have or plant-based meat, so we must spend a lot of time and money educating our consumers on what we are doing, which takes a lot of time, energy, and resources from everyone.
Can you share any exciting plans or developments in the works for Wakao Foods?
Sairaj Dhond: Wakao Foods was recently launched in Singapore. We intend to expand into additional countries by next year.
We also intend to increase our online and offline presence in a 60:40 split, as I believe it is critical to maintain a presence in both markets.
What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur?
Sairaj Dhond: My father is an entrepreneur and I am grown up in a family of entrepreneurs I have always idolized my father the way he has built businesses, but then I started studying law, I really liked it and was very passionate to study law and become one of the best in the country, then I practiced it for a year I realized this is not what I want to do.
I realized that I wasn’t made for a 9-5 corporate job but rather for someone who is much more creative for creating new products and I think that was my inspiration, just create something which will be made in India and will go all across the world.
What impact do you hope Wakao Foods will have on the food industry and society as a whole?
Sairaj Dhond: Wakao Foods is making a significant contribution because we were the first to introduce jackfruit meat.
In India, jackfruit grows naturally, but no one has identified or capitalized on its potential. So wakao foods have introduced a traditional fruit that is widely grown in India and has a natural texture, no preservatives, and enormous global potential.
In India, jackfruit is grown in over 16 states, with an annual production of 1.4 million tons. Wakao also runs a campaign called Friends of Farmer, in which we donate 1% of our revenue to farmers, as well as farm equipment and books for children.
The overall environmental impact of plant-based is significant because we reduce our carbon footprint by not using animal-based products.
Please talk about your Global Expansion
Sairaj Dhond: As I discussed earlier, Wakao Foods was recently launched in Singapore. We intend to expand into additional countries by next year.
We also intend to increase our online and offline presence in a 60:40 split, as I believe it is critical to maintaining a presence in both markets.
What is your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Sairaj Dhond: There is nothing, in particular, I would like to say but just love what you do and keep looking out for new ideas and whatever new opportunity arises, one should always continue to learn.
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