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How this Bengaluru-based HR professional built a clean-label all natural dessert brand

An ice cream that is made naturally and is free of stabilisers, emulsifiers and artificial flavourings was not something that was easily available a decade ago. In her quest for a healthier version of her favourite dessert, Aarti Laxman Rastogi ended up experimenting in her kitchen for five years. . When she realised that the experiments could turn into something viable, Aarti quit her job as an HR professional in 2017 to start Artinci – a clean label ice cream brand.

Based in Bengaluru, Aarti was instrumental in curating a sustainability-focused supply chain that concentrated on sourcing ingredients from local farmers in India – from vanilla beans to single origin chocolate, bio-diversity friendly and fairtrade coffee and even India-grown Stevia. “We were ‘Vocal for Local’ much before the mantra for growth became popular.” Such focus on sustainability helps the brand keep its good miles low, paves way for a circular economy and at the same time creates unique and excellently flavoured, clean label, all-natural products.

After establishing itself in the Bengaluru food scene and gaining loyal customers, Artinci launched sugar-free and keto-friendly ice creams in 2019. “This was a major milestone that involved six months of R&D and product trials.” Explaining why, she says, “The sugar-free sweetener blend is derived from natural sources, is safe and ultra low on Glycemic Index and low on carbohydrates, while being similar in taste to sugar. The end product tastes great and is absolutely safe for diabetics or those following a keto diet. There are no artificial sweeteners in this. Everyone has access to this knowledge, however not every company makes their products with a sweetner having the lowest GI .” In two years, the company’s revenue increased from Rs 5 lakh in 2017-18 to Rs 78 lakh in 2019-20.

2020 saw the team working hard on expanding its portfolio and invested a lot of time and effort on development of new products. By mid-year, they were able to extend their range of sugar-free products – cookies, cakes and chocolates. In addition to its presence on online food ordering and delivery platforms, the venture also expanded its geographic footprint by listing its products on Amazon. “We have shipped our sugar-free cookies and single-origin chocolate bars to practically every state in India in the past six months.” With the new developments, the company is looking to double its revenue. “We aim to end the FY 2020-21 by clocking a revenue of Rs 1.5 crore.”

Today, in addition to a strong online presence, it has 10 delivery-only outlets across Bengaluru. Artinci is now looking to expand its coverage in Bengaluru and also strengthen its presence on e-commerce platforms and retail stores. “We also want to expand our footprint to another city in the next six months.” In addition, the startup is also looking to add a vegan line of products to fulfill a lot of inbound requests.

Aarti is among the 24 entrepreneurs selected for the first cohort for Xcelerator Bangalore – a non-IT business accelerator programme by Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) in partnership with partnerships with ecosystems players like Ubuntu, FKCCI, KSFC, among others.

“At a time when we are ready to grow wings and take-off, being a part of the GAME Xcelerator Bangalore 2021 cohort is timely and invaluable. Knowing that so many industry stalwarts are leading the initiative from the front, gives me the confidence that this is not my journey alone and that there are many who are cheering for Artinci’s success and will be available to advise whenever we need help.”

Interestingly, Aarti has never let her hearing disability come in the way of her entrepreneurial dreams. With an 80 percent hearing loss, Aarti says explains to people she is interacting with for the first time about the hearing disability.” Having been closely involved in driving talent strategy and diversity programmes during her corporate stint as an HR professional, Aarti has ensured that Artinci is an inclusive workplace.

Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned, non- IT businesses in Bengaluru. It provides support to the women entrepreneurs to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.

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