Alt foods: the startup developing plant-based milk from grains and sprouted millets

Alt foods is a plant-based food company from India that develops plant-based milk made from grains and sprouted millets and which is specifically designed to be used just like dairy. The startup was founded by the family members Aman, Sweta, and Pavitra Khandelwal, all of whom are part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is their story.

What does your startup do and what is its mission? 

Aman: Alt foods is on a mission to create easy-to-switch-to plant-based products which taste great and are nutritious and accessible. We decided to start with plant-based milk, as India has the largest dairy consumption in the world. At the same time, there is also tremendous market potential for plant-based alternatives in the country. 

Where did the idea for your company come from? 

Sweta: The idea of creating alt foods came to us through our experiences as plant-based consumers. We struggled to find a plant-based milk suitable for us and ended up with three or four different kinds of plant-based milks in our pantries. Our primary reason for being vegan is animal cruelty. So we realised that if we truly want to reduce animal-based consumption, plant-based alternatives need to reach the masses. In order to do so, there was a need to fill the gap for great-tasting and accessible milk alternatives. This is where alt foods fits in.

Tell us about your team. Who are you and why are you the right people for the project? 

Pavitra: We are family members who share a passion for eating and experimenting with food. What brings the three of us together is that we all have been on a journey to improve our lifestyle by eating better and removing animals-based products from our diets. Personally experiencing the impact, we have decided to bring this to the world. We are all pursuing our dream careers at alt foods as co-founders! We aim to make plant-based food more accessible for everyone.

What are your favourite parts about building your business?

Pavitra: As food lovers and vegan entrepreneurs, the thrill of creating impactful plant-based alternatives and calling it work is our favourite part. Moreover, there’s no better feeling than seeing the look of delight on consumers’ faces after they try our products. This is when we truly know we are going in the right direction.

Alt food’s chocolate milk

 What have been the main challenges you’ve faced? 

Sweta: Being a startup without any prior experience in food innovation leads to challenges every now and then. One of our biggest challenges was to create a novel dairy alternative without any benchmark product and overcoming the fear of completely failing. The product had to be a universal alternative to milk. Also being scalable, with the potential to eventually be as affordable as dairy. 

What makes your company unique? 

Aman: With over 80,000 edible plants available, alt foods is reimagining food options, making them kinder to the planet, animals, and humans. Our approach to product development is to understand our target market’s aspirations and entry points in order to develop game-changing alternatives. Our first product, alt foods’ plant-based milk, is just the beginning. 

Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator? 

Aman: We believe we have a lot to learn about how to execute our business plan and mission. Participating in ProVeg Incubator gives us the key opportunity to connect with mentors, industry experts, and investors in one place. This accelerates our efforts in addressing three of our greatest priorities: learning, enriching our network, and raising funds.

Alt food’s range of products: plant-based milk original and chocolate milk

In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful? 

Sweta: Persistence. We wouldn’t have been successful at developing the world’s first plant-based milk made out of grains and sprouted millets if it weren’t for our persistence. It was a challenging time but we knew what we were aiming for and stayed persistent for over a year. We were waiting to achieve the perfect product and received sufficient positive feedback. Best explained by our internal rule which, in Hindi,  is Aacha Banao, Warna Matt Banao , which translates into “do not create any products unless they are going to be great products. 

What do you hope to achieve with your company in the next 12 months?

Aman: With the largely untapped market in India, we aim to bring alt foods to all major metropolitan cities within the next 12 months. On the product front, we aim to launch more flavours and diversify our product range by adding other delicious plant-based alternatives.  As a product which is free of all the Big 8 allergens and has an increased bioavailability of nutritions, the product has a tremendous scope in the international market which alt foods will be expanding into as soon as next year.

On a personal level, we hope to create some impact along the way. We want to help people to realise that plant-based alternatives can be delicious and fun!

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