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Anand’s Sweet Success

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Ankush Dadu, 

Partner, Anand Sweets & Savouries
age: 35
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Conventional wisdom tells us not to fix something that ain’t broken. But not everyone’s listening. Ankush Dadu, 35-year-old engineer and IESE Business School alumnus, decided to shake things up at family-run Anand Sweets & Savouries. The trigger was the pandemic, says Dadu, who joined the business three years ago after stints at a tech company, an auto firm and a consultancy. Online sales of Indian sweets had taken off, and the pandemic gave a further fillip, he says. The company tied up with Sequoia Capital India and Goldman Sachs-backed Rebel Foods, which runs more than 300 kitchens across the country, and started selling on Amazon and Flipkart. Dadu says they became one of the largest sweet sellers on these platforms within six months. The company runs about 15 cloud kitchens and wants to take the number to 100 in the next one year. “Online is my big bet,” says Dadu, who wants Anand Sweets to become the largest online mithai company. “I’m at 12 stores in Bengaluru. I have a big presence locally, but if I have to compete with a big brand like Haldirams, which has 70-80 stores, I require time. This pandemic is not the right time (for expanding stores), but can I be the biggest mithai brand on Internet?” he says.
The digital push has paid off. Dadu says online contributes close to 40% of Anand Sweets’ revenue. One in two buyers is a repeat customer. He says online business grew 200% to ₹60 crore in 2021. Margins are 15% higher in the online segment, which is growing by 500% month-on-month. The company plans to focus on premium products and expand in all metros and smaller cities by opening small stores which can act as hubs for the online business.
So, how hard was it to take an Indian sweets brand online and convincing the family to innovate and build for the future. Dadu, a voracious reader, says when he first pitched the idea to his family, he was asked to go to the stores and figure things out. He started by understanding what all goes into each sweet. Convincing family to hire new people wasn’t easy either. “These are hard battles to fight,” he says. He was eventually able to convince his family and invest in new people, marketing, research and development, packaging and technology. One of the investments went into adding the capability of modified atmosphere packaging, which extends the shelf life of fresh food products. Dadu claims he has been able to triple the shelf life of his products. With that, he may have figured out the makings of a modern mithai business.