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A brand expert, responsible for launching several new products. He has seen the birth of many brands and nurtured them to the ace, Meet Jay Solanki, prefers himself to be known as Brand gynecologist. Jay is a startup business consultant for FMCG products, specializing in healthcare. We engaged with him in a one-on-one interview- 

Why do you need a consultant for a startup for FMCG?

Launching FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) products in an Indian market is a tricky proposition. One doesn’t know the quantum, scale and stages of investment. While you are up against the established giants in business fighting to hold your space, you don’t have their returns to match their investment.

There are a number of strategic consultants for startups. How different are you?

Most of the consultants for startups are strategic advisors. They will collect data from the market and the startup business. They analyse the data and create strategies based on the analysis. A startup needs much more than that. It needs to identify starting point, defining human capital requirements, progression graph, troubleshooting teething problems, designing the scale, sourcing business partners, defining long term objectives and identifying short term goals. When you start achieving short term goals you receive data that could be useful in creating further roadmap.

What makes FMCG business different from any other business?

The FMCG business can be divided in to 3 revenue streams – Retail, Institution and Ecommerce. Each of these streams are chock-a-block with products. Technically the market is in an over-supply mode. For every requirement there are multiple brands with different offerings at competitive pricing. To make ingress in any of these spaces is a tedious drill. Every product is eventually a me-too product in its category with very little differentiator. It is like no other business. 

 

Jay Solanki
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Jay Solanki

Is there a standard formula to crack an FMCG business?

There never was. And there never will be. The FMCG business is the most dynamic and the most volatile. Trends change overnight and consumption patterns evolve everyday. Every single day adds new consumers to a system who come with a set of choices and habits. Every single day a set of regular consumers move on to something else. The market that looks stable is in a constantly transitioning state. How can there be a standard formula for it?

How do you go about your consultations with your FMCG clients?

We don’t exactly consult. We partner with them in their process. Their business idea comes with processes like the legal processes, the accounting processes, the licensing, trademarking, etc. Then comes the technical processes in making the product and making it available to the consumer. This process goes hand in hand with identifying the right quantum and scale at the inception of business. It also goes along with recruiting a team to execute various jobs. All of this require investments and investments need a target. Identifying target needs some data and data needs business. Business needs investment. It’s a chicken and egg story that one needs to get past.

Is Rs. 50 to 60 lakhs investment enough for an FMCG business?

It entirely depends on the choice of products. One can setup a business for an investment as low as Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 lakhs. But one has to have a fund pool of over Rs. 2 crores in reserve as market realities swing in no time. Money is never enough. It has to mix with the right kind of attitude, aptitude, patience and luck.

How safe is it to invest in new FMCG venture considering that the world is reeling under a pandemic?

It is as safe or as unsafe as it is for any other business. In fact, FMCG business has been one of the few businesses that has survived the lockdown economy. It has shown tremendous growth on ecommerce platforms. The consumption has gone up. The market swell was 3% even in times of total national lockdown. As per the NielsonIQ report there is an expected surge in the FMCG demand and consumption in India. 

Why is your Instagram id 1linerbaba?

Well, I started my career as a writer. I am an advertising copywriter. One of the major principles of writing is to describe everything in one line. Give a print ad a headline, give a picture a caption, give a film script a log line. So, I learnt to write one-liners. I post my one-liners on my social media handles by the name, 1linerbaba.

Tell us more about yourself.

While I was writing for agencies, I got in to client servicing as well. In some time, I was asked by a client to join their marketing team. I took the bait and switched sides. I joined as a marketing head for an FMCG company. From that day till today I have been associated with a number of small medium enterprises and startup ventures as a business consultant with a team of mine. 

Tell us something about your clients.

My clients have ranged from food brands like Anmol milk, RiteBite nutrition bars, Let’s Ketchup, Bhatia hospital to The Food Folks superfoods. I have also served the personal care category of cosmetic products and hospitality brands like RKHS. The range of my industry exposure has been good. It also has top healthcare surgical product brands to stationery brands. In each of these I have directly worked with the company owners and key decision makers.

You have also delved in to films.

Oh yes, as a writer, films and entertainment don’t elude your profile. I have written gags and sketches for a comedy show on StarOne. I have also written and produced a Hindi feature film, Bhabhipedia.

How can startup founders contact you?

They can find me up on Linkedin or DM me on Instagram.

Contact Jay at

Email: jaysolanki@gmail.com

Cell: (+91) 9821611683 for calling and whatsapp

Instagram: 1linerbaba

Clubhouse: 1linerbaba

Disclaimer: This content is distributed by SRV Media. No HT journalist is involved in creation of this content.

 

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