The story of Olivistry starts from the university benches in Australia. Ritvik & Gunaraaj were staying together away from home, while pursuing their higher education from the University of New South Wales. With friends and colleagues from all across the globe, food brought all of them together. When someone brought back food from his or her home country, there would be a feast. Being away from home constantly, they understood it is difficult to find indigenous ingredients. Hence, they decided to create a borderless world where one could find quality products with ease.
Olive Oil was one of those many products, which was common in every feast, be it a Barbecue, European cuisine, Mediterranean dishes, Indian Tikkas or an Asian delicacy. It is an ingredient that enhances the flavor of any food from any part of the world. An oil, which has antibacterial properties, rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and full of antioxidants, an oil extracted from a precious fruit called the Olive Fruit.
The chemistry of friends, the chemistry of food and the chemistry of Olives!
That is how OLIVISTRY was born.
Ritvik & Gunaraaj studied, stayed, traveled & cooked together for several years while staying in Sydney. Ritvik, a software engineer from India has done his Masters in International business while Gunaraaj after serving in Singapore Air Force completed his Bachelors from University of New South Wales.
Ritvik successfully ran a start-up in the daycare industry called Giggle And Grow Childcare which was featured in Forbes India in May 2019. While Gunaraaj managed a marine service company at various ports of Singapore.
Both of them decided to form Niche Market Exchange in 2018 with a vision to create a borderless world where one could find quality products with ease. In order to procure the finest forms of olives they travelled to the rarely heard of North-African country which is the world’s third highest exporter of olive oil, located in the mediterranean, Tunisia. After exploring the cliched Spanish and Italian olive oil which is mostly known for frauds in the global media nowadays, they decided to formally launch Olivistry after exploring and researching for over a year. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Ritvik:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Growth in Olive Oil Adulteration:
• The adulterated olive oil industry is controlled by the Mafia in Italy, 400 police officers conducted “Operation Golden Oil” which led to the confiscation of 85 farms and the arrest of 23 people, and 40 more people were caught adding chlorophyll (the natural oxidant found in Olives) to sunflower oil and soya bean oil and passing it off as extra virgin olive oil in foreign markets.
• The Spanish Civil Guard has seized more than 120 tons of fake olive oil, under the operation ‘Cloroil’ in Spain.
• Light Olive Oil and Extra Light Olive Oil is the type of olive oil where the name may spark some confusion. “Light” doesn’t refer to this olive oil being lower in calories. Rather, it is a marketing term used to describe the oil’s lighter flavor.
Olivistry’s mission is to create awareness amongst consumers about olive oil while making sure that an authentic product reaches the end-consumer. Our goal is to educate the people of the world, as we believe that an informed consumer is the best customer.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Olivistry was launched in Singapore first, which is a much more mature market than India. The acceptablitiy in the Asian cuisine was quite high therefore it was a clear go ahead to launch it in Indian market.
We considered Chandigarh tricity as a test model to further clarrify the acceptability of the flavour and taste profile. Over 100 households have used Olivistry Olive Oil for Indian cooking, 6 top-restaurants in the city are serving food cooked in Olivistry and a Spainish owned café is using Olivistry Olive Oil on its tables.
After catering to HORECA, we have seen a keen interest from one of the top food caterers in tricity for the upcoming wedding season. Any chef who prefers to cook and serve dishes in authentic ingredients, Olivistry is becoming their first choice when it comes to using a quality oil for dressing or cooking.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: When Niche Market Exchange decided to brand out into the olive oil business, they surveyed a variety of olive oil from various countries across the Mediterranean region but found the olive oil from Tunisia particularly unique and fresher as compared to the other suppliers in other countries.
They did their own market research on Tunisian Olive Oil and found that there wasn’t a single article with Tunisian Olive Oil being embroiled in the Adulterated Olive Oil scandal as compared to other countries famous for their olive oil. This further affirmed their interest in supplying Tunisian Olive oil to the mass market.
There has been positive feedback from our current consumers; Retail and HORECA sector. They have finally been enlightened on what a quality gourmet olive oil is meant to taste like. In addition, OLIVISTRY was approached by an Oil sommelier from Italy to review their oil, the review was nothing short of positives. In fact, these particular sommelier only review gourmet Olive oil from Italy and Spain; being reviewed by him was one of Olivistry’s current biggest achievements.
This is the first time a Tunisian Olive oil has entered the Asian Market, and we are proud in promoting Tunisian Olive oil as they take pride in their oil.
Following are the USPs of OLIVISTRY:
• Tunisian Olive Oil does not have a tainted reputation as compared to other countries supplying olive oil.
• Leading Gourmet brands uses Tunisian Olives for their blend.
• Tunisia is the 3rd biggest exporter of olive oil after Spain and Italy.
• Every shipment is reviewed by Niche Market Exchanges’ Quality Control and Assurance team in Tunisia.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: When Olivistry decided to enter the Indian market; they knew that they will have a hard time to convince the masses for the goodness of the Tunisian Olive oil as other leading brands are well established. Moreover, we are not as well educated with the use of Olive oil as we perceived to, and Olivistry would like to change that. They are constantly sharing the various ways of using Olive oil and the goodness upon using olive oil everyday in their daily cooking.
Our ideal customers are anyone (homecooks, homemakers, chefs) who is willing to make the switch from regular cooking oil (refined vegetable oil, mustard oil or ghee) to a healthier option and also for those who are paying an exuberant amount for olive oil when in fact they can get quality olive oil at an affordable price range. We believe that providing our customers with quality product, we will grow exponentially and introduce new products like Olivistry for our loyal consumers.
The Indian market is price sensitive and we have understood that the hard way. We have been told many times by our distributors that our pricings were too high and that we need to reduce it even further. We have finally settled on a price point for our clients which we believe will be attractive for all. So far we have managed to close 6 restaurants & 2 food caterers in Chandigarh as it is our test city and 4 in NCR. For Chandigarh tricity we are launching a door to door delivery to ensure better prices for our end-consumers.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it?
Ans: Most of our team comprises of business professionals who have experienced failures at some point. Our individual failures and experiences has become our strength collectively. Spanning across 5 continents our team comprises of multicultural professionals who debate, argue, fight but at the end do not compromise by refining our thoughts and goals to make sure that the common man, the people of the world get a product which would be beneficial.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Olivistry’s objective is simple; “Gourmet products for the people of the World”. Olivistry just want the product to be affordable for the masses as they believe in their product and the benefits it brings to its consumers.
So our price point was worked backwards, and how much the consumers would pay for a product like this. We surveyed our target audience the price points which they would pay for the oil, as customers’ opinion is very important to Olivistry. Olivistry is a gourment olive oil at an affordable price as compared to other brands of olive oil which claim to be premium.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Our first consumers were definitely home-cooks. People who love to cook at home or as they like to call themselves ‘seasoned chefs’. In fact, an IT professional from tech Mahindra was our first inspiring customer who thanked us in one of his social media posts quoting “Thanks for inspiring me to take up cooking”. That was most definitely a satisfying day for Olivistry India as we felt our product actually inspired someone. It was a confirmation that we have been able to put our intentions into practice.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it?
Ans: As the underdogs in the market and one of the first olive oil different from the main-stream Spainish and Italian olive oils, Olivistry has started picking up traction in its test model city, Chandigarh. We have been able to supply to one of the leading consumers in HORECA industry in Chandigarh. Our competitors lowered their pricing after we created a disruption in the market with Olivistry; the chefs vouched to continue using Olivistry because of its unique flavour profile and quality.
We consider ourselves lucky that we have been able to meet chefs who still emphasize on quality ingredients in creating quality dishes for their customers.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Olivistry is the house brand of Niche Market Exchange Singapore. We are working with them closely on how we can introduce more products like Olivistry into India. In the following months, we are planning to bring in 100% durum wheat pastas, indigenous herbs from various countries and pelati tomatoes.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Ans: During our soft launch we have catered over 250 individual consumers in the first month in India and over 75% repeat buyers, considering a bottle of olive oil runs for over a month. Most of our first customers were friends and family. Since then the orders have multiplied in forms of personal consumption and even gifting purpose as our consumers find our bottle quite impressive.
We have captured the top restaurants of Chandigarh which is our test model city to confirm the acceptance of the oil amongst chefs. Top catering companies in Chandigarh is using Olivistry for the current and upcoming wedding season.
Olivistry is a wellness partner for Giggle And Grow Childcare which is a leading daycare provider for Chandigarh Tricity’s working professionals. Our vision is to educate our consumers about the importance of olive oil and what better place than starting our journey from a playway where parents are using Extra Virgin Olive Oil for their kids massage and using it as a healthier choice for their everyday cooking.
Olivistry is also the wellness partner for Defence Taekwondo Academy which consists of sportsperson from the age of 4 years until 21 years, who are preparing for National championships. The importance of olive oil is inevitable in an athlete’s life and Olivistry makes sure that they are getting the right nutrition to enhance their performance.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: Olivistry is one of the first 100% Tunisian olive oil in ASEAN region and Indian sub-continent. The leading brands from Spain and Italy procure raw materials from various regions and in fact Olive oil from Tunisia as well, whereas Olivistry only uses the award winning chemlali & chetoui olives from Tunisia.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
- Ritvik Chauhan (Business Development)
- S Gunaraaj (Business Development)
- Typhaine Moission (Head of Marketing)
- Bartappan Rajjappan (Operations Director)
- Nitin Sethi (Head of Product Development)
- Ray Rahman (QA/QC and Procurement Director)
Q.:: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: We consider the current leading Olive Oil brands as our competition due to their long term presence and acceptance in the market. However, we believe that Olivistry procuring olive oil solely based on quality (and not basing on fame) and constantly educating its customers on the current news pertaining to Olive Oil would help us to differentiate ourselves.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: Olivistry is one of the first 100% Tunisian olive oil being used by chefs and homecooks in ASEAN region and Indian sub-continent. We have expanded into 2 countries namely Singapore and India, and further expanding into Malaysia and Indonesia in the upcoming months.
Olivistry’s goal is to educate and provide the consumers with a gourmet olive oil while making sure the quality standards are maintained globally. A bottle of Olivistry Olive Oil sold in any part of the world will be procured solely from Tunisia, especially the Chemlali & Chetoui olives which have a subtle almondy flavour profile which goes very well with the Asian and Indian cuisine. We are committed to maintain the quality of our olive oil throughout the world regardless of the country of supply unlike other brands in the market. It is Olivistry’s promise to the people of the world. Visit http://nichemarketexchange.com to know more.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Educate your consumers because an informed consumer is the best client. A food product is an ingredient which is consumed by a human being and as suppliers it is not only our obligation but also our duty to provide a quality food produce to our end-consumers. The people of the world deserve to get and know about the authenticity of the product they are consuming.
Thanks Ritvik. Best wishes!