SupportBiz presents an exclusive conversation with Ryan Fernando, co-founder of Qua Nutrition.
Tell us about the founders...
Qua Nutrition has been founded by Tapan Kumar Das, Devika Mohapatra and myself. All of us are IIM-Ahmedabad graduates and have been classmates.
Tapan is also a qualified CA, the founding member of YLG Salons, and has been the CFO for Flipkart and Indian Terrain.
Devika, my wife, is a NIFT graduate.
I hold a Masters’ in Clinical Biochemistry and Food Chemistry, and have several years’ experience of working as a Sales manager for different food brands. I have helped various companies build their food brands.
How did Qua Nutrition come about?
In the course of my work, I discovered that a lot of Indians were falling prey to obesity and a lot of lifestyle diseases, on account of not eating right and lack of exercise. In fact, Bangalore is the ‘Diabetes Capital of India’, with the highest number of diabetes patients in the country. We set up Qua Nutrition in July 2011 in an attempt to help people to eat right, to have a healthy lifestyle, and avoid such diseases.
There was no business model dedicated to nutrition in India, and we felt that it was an urgent need that needed to be addressed. Moreover, I wanted to provide nutrition to people without the packaging of any brand, and help them make it a part of their daily lives. That is how Qua Nutrition came about.
What are the kinds of nutrition packages you offer?
We have different kinds of nutrition packages – for kids, for geriatrics, for sportspeople, for corporates, for obese people, for people who are planning for a child, for pregnant ladies and for those who are in post-pregnancy.
What is your business model?
We operate on three levels:
First off, we have a brick-and-mortar clinic in Bangalore, where people can walk in, consult with our dieticians and get a customised nutrition plan.
Secondly, we offer internet-based services, wherein people can log in to our website and get a nutrition plan for themselves. We also plan to set up a call centre to help people with their nutritional requirements.
Apart from this, we are in the process of tying up with corporate to set up nutrition clinics for their employees within their premises, to help them eat right. One such clinic is operational in Goldman Sachs, Bangalore.
How big is your team?
Presently, we have a team of 15, including 10 dieticians, the three founders, and two Business Development Managers.
Tell us about the initial investment needed for Qua Nutrition....
We started Qua Nutrition with an initial investment of INR25 lakhs. Of this, INR10 lakhs went into setting up our clinic and INR15 lakhs went into developing nutrition software. Ours is the first such software to be developed in India, and it helps us input variables about the customers to develop a customised nutrition plan for them.
What are your expansion plans?
We plan to start another clinic in Chennai in November, and later expand to other cities. In fact, we would like to set up 100 clinics across India in a phased manner. We also want to set up more corporate clinics.
What are the major challenges you face?
Indians, by nature, love food and eat gregariously. It is quite challenging to convince them about the benefits of eating right and eating in moderation. That said, more and more Indians today are growing aware of the pitfalls of unhealthy eating and turning to a healthier lifestyle. Apart from this, it is quite difficult to find qualified and trained dieticians.
Tell us about the competition in your field...
We largely face competition from the dieticians in hospitals, gyms which have their own nutritionists, and weight loss clinics. Each of these pertains to only one life stage of the clients. For instance, a dietician in a hospital would only be able to advise a patient on a diet plan for a particular malaise that the person is suffering from. As opposed to this, we help our clients make ‘lifestyle changes’, and help him/her eat right throughout their entire lives, irrespective of what life stage they are in currently.
What is the scope of the wellness industry in India?
The wellness industry in India is presently worth INR59,000 crore, as per a report released by FICCI. The number of Indians with unhealthy lives and unhealthy eating habits is huge. So, the scope of the industry is definitely huge.
India is poised to become a superpower by 2030, but going by the current health levels of the population, the country is going to be an ‘unhealthy superpower’. I think the government and private industries should take steps towards removing this stumbling block.
Corporate Website: Qua Nutrition