249 / March 19, 2024

Yoga Bar | Vulnerable Podcast Between 2 Women Founders On Career, Life & More

1 Hour 7 Minutes

249 / March 19, 2024

Yoga Bar | Vulnerable Podcast Between 2 Women Founders On Career, Life & More

1 Hour 7 Minutes
Listen on

About the Episode

This week’s episode is a HEARTFELT conversation between 2 women founders who discuss beauty standards in India, healthy living, career & much more as Nansi takes over hosting duties while welcoming Yoga Bar founder, Suhasini Sampath, to the Neon Show!

How Has The Beauty Industry Impacted India?

The TRUTH Behind Low & No-Added-Sugar Products!

Prioritising “Needs” Over “Wants”

Biggest Lesson Learnt From ITC Acquisition?

All these juicy topics and more in this SINCERE conversation. A dive into the mind of one of India’s brightest female founders & one who has beautifully balanced her career & family commitments… Wishing you all a very Happy International Women’s Day! Tune in NOW!

Watch all other episodes on The Neon Podcast – Neon

Or view it on our YouTube Channel at The Neon Show – YouTube

Precap 0:00


There are a lot of people who randomly say that I want to build something like this one day. You are one of those few people who have executed your idea, you were just outside your yoga class eating at one bar and you said we can start something like that in India. I don’t think I can do a job and do it badly. I’m competitive. I’m not somebody who will be okay with mediocrity.

My wardrobe has pyjamas, like I just have black pajamas and I have black tops. I don’t like to think about it at all. I eat the same three meals every day. How do you do it? Like you and a company are still running it. You have a four-year-old kid and you want to stay in touch with all our friends. Abhi bhi health taste ke bina nahi bikegi. Like that is the truth of it. You have to do 80% health and 20% taste.


What are the products or ingredients we Indians consume that are not healthy? Primary one is, like if there was one tip, just don’t pick the stuff that has maida. You avoid biscuits. You avoid chocolate. Do one cheat meal a week. You sleep on time. You eat between 6 to 7 o’clock. Yeah, you’ll be healthy. You’ll be okay. A lot of people come back and tell me, you’re in a health food company, you’re not skinny. I’m like, I have never taken a pill in my life.

To me, that’s the best indicator of health. I can lift 50 kgs. I can do 30 push-ups. I won’t break a sweat. What’s that one thing you have learned from ITC? The thing that I was most impressed with is…

Nansi Mishra 1:30


There are a lot of people who say randomly that I want to be healthy. I want to build something like this one day. And I want to start this company or I have this idea. Maybe I have time, I’ll do it. Maybe if I have this kind of situation, I’ll do it. You are one of those few people who have, you know, executed your idea that you got this idea. You were just outside your yoga class and you were eating one bar and you said we can start something like that in India. And you executed your idea, scaled it, and sold it to a bigger company. How does it feel?


Suhasini Sampath: 2:06

It feels normal to be very honest. Like everybody keeps asking me.


Nansi Mishra: 1:30


You say this in all the interviews. It feels normal. I mean, is it because of the process that it took you one year of that process, MNA process and .. ek joh moment aaya uske baad aissa laga ki yaar.


Suhasini Sampath: 2:21

Nahi, I feel like everybody… I mean, I don’t know. Inherently, and I’m not just saying this. I feel everybody’s life is a different, beautiful journey, right?

And my journey is no more beautiful or no harsher than anybody else’s. I inherently believe that. Like… You know, like there are many points in your life where you look at somebody else and you think… Like in my apartment, there’ll be a couple of people who’d be like,

you must feel so great all the time. And I’d be like, yeah, but you have this really… And like for me, the idea of happiness has always been like a really large family, like having like five kids in the house and, you know, having dogs and all of that.


And I feel everyone has this sense of balance as to how they go about their life. And I feel everyone’s journey, everyone’s circumstances, everyone’s experience is different. So I don’t feel any more special or any less than anyone else. And I feel this was natural… I mean, I don’t know. I don’t feel different in any way, maybe. I don’t know.


Nansi Mishra: 3:15


It sounds so calm here, but I have heard your interview with Shantanu and you were sharing all those hectic days.


Suhasini Sampath: 3:21

Yeah, yeah. Of course.


Nansi Mishra: 3:22


And how aggressive you were about certain things.


Suhasini Sampath: 3:25




Nansi Mishra: 3:26


That Your team was okay. Your team was okay. Your investors were okay. But you were very aggressive and I have to do it in a certain way. And now I’m seeing you, meeting you. You sound so calm.


Suhasini Sampath: 3:35



So that is inherently like, I don’t think I can do a job and do it badly. I’m competitive. And I am very clear that when you run a company and you’ve given people certain commitments, you have to honor them.


Like, I’m very clear. I had to return, do some ,… give good returns to my investors. They had trusted me. My employees, we’ve never had a single day off in Yoga Bar.


I’m not somebody who will be okay with mediocrity. And That’s a choice I’ve made for who I am. And I accept it. I’m saying there’s a price to be paid for people who want to always make sure that they do their best possible job. Inherently competitive people also .. lead stressful lives. So, yeah, that’s just a skill thing.


I don’t think anything I do, I can do it less competitively. Half-hearted. Like, the day before yesterday, somebody asked me to, I mean, there was a badminton class going on in the morning. Yeah. And the pros play in the morning in the apartment. And I was playing and then they were like, no, maybe you should learn how to play. And now I’m so competitive about it. I hired a coach and I think like my pro, like, I’m just inherently that person. Like, I can’t. And if somebody ever tells me I can’t do something, I will definitely do it.

Nansi Mishra: 4:51


You mentioned your family. You come from a Tam-Brahm family, right?


And you mentioned that everyone in the family is academically well-accomplished. So, tell me about your early days. How was life and where do you come from?


Suhasini Sampath: 5:05


So, it’s a very interesting story.

So, my dad was one of the highest-paid professionals in the country. Like, in the 1970s. And obviously, at that point in time, he was a bachelor. So, five degrees, CA, CS, lawyer, MBA,


Nansi Mishra: 5:22


Oh, God.


Suhasini Sampath: 5:23


Also a Sanskrit scholar. And also a big fan of Elvis, understood English music way ahead of his times, also understood classical. So, very… I probably didn’t appreciate how dynamic he was as a human being until now. Like, so, yeah. And he left his job because he has three girls and he decided that he’s not going to take

a job that makes him transfer from one city to the other. He wants to give stability. And he very early on decided that education is the biggest source of freedom. So, left his job. We lived in under… very simple circumstances. Like, we’ve never bought packaged food at home. Like, my mother would make the gajar ka halwa or whatever, right? Like, I’m not saying that we were poor.


I’m saying, you know, to go from being like the highest, one of the highest-paid professionals in the country to living a very, very, you know, structured life. Like, you plan your finances for the month. You do all of that.


Nansi Mishra: 6:24


So, what was he doing?


Suhasini Sampath: 6:25


He started practicing as a CA. And as a practicing chartered accountant, it’s very difficult.


Nansi Mishra: 6:29


I know.


Suhasini Sampath: 6:30


But he also dabbled in a number of businesses. So, he used to do… He used to supply taxis to all the five-star hotels. So, the Ola of today, my dad used to do it.


Nansi Mishra: 6:40


This is so amazing.


Suhasini Sampath: 6:42


It’s amazing. It’s amazing. And then during his 80s, we didn’t have a car at home.

But my dad had bought two computers because he decided he wanted to do an accounting outsourcing company in the 80s. And my mom was made… Like, he made my mother take these courses in computers so that she can also kind of help him also do this business with each other. But he was too early. Like, all of his ideas were very…

We’re talking about 40 years back, you know. And then he started doing fashion business. And so, I think he was inherently a very creative mind.


Nansi Mishra: 7:16


And what was his background? Like, his father?


Suhasini Sampath: 7:19


I mean, my grandfather was a doctor. But like, my father was, you know, like a… He’s a finance person. C-A-C-S-I-C-W-A, whatever.

But he also comes from a family where they studied under the streetlight, and would not like food for several days. Days of the week. One glass of milk a day was his entire meal and all of that. So, yeah.


And I think my dad’s influence on our lives is very, very strong. I do think that as I grow old, I become more and more like him. So, extreme sense of discipline. You really limit your needs. Like, I don’t buy or use anything that I don’t need. I will limit the number of things that I own.

Nansi Mishra: 8:00


You still do that.


Suhasini Sampath: 8:01


I still do that. I still absolutely do that. I have had the same car for the last 15 years. I don’t know how to drive. So, I need a car. So, I have a very basic car. I have had it for 15 years. I don’t buy a house. I don’t have a fancy house. I like basic things. Until my clothes really wear and tear, I don’t really replace them. I’ve never bought a piece of gold. So, this is just who… I mean, and I think all of that is really cultural.


Like, I think it’s just the kind of discipline that my dad…


Nansi Mishra: 8:27


Things you’ve learned from him.


Suhasini Sampath: 8:28


Things you’ve learned. Yeah. Also, you don’t have the need to really waste, you know. Like, I don’t have the need to… Waste. I don’t feel like things should impress people.


Like, I get… A lot of people make a lot of fun of me for that habit. But I don’t believe that I would want to be any different.


Nansi Mishra: 8:46


No, I think this is the ideal case. We should all do that. Because remember growing up, we used to have only 2-3 products in our washroom.


Suhasini Sampath: 8:56




Nansi Mishra: 8:57


Toothpaste, shampoo, 2-3 soaps. Now, our washrooms are full of products.


We have all kinds of serums. , hair masks, face masks, what not. Yeah. And now, there will be a time when all these influencers will start telling you that let’s live minimally.




There will be a time.


Because now, like, I just don’t understand. What do you think, like, are… Because you founded a consumer brand, so I’m asking this. Do you think our needs have increased?




Or we are over…


Suhasini Sampath: 9:28


Yeah. I actually cannot for the life of me. I can’t imagine why people spend so much. I’ll be very honest. I spend on food. I like good food. Like, healthy. Like, really.




Like, I would buy organic vegetables. I need to know where my food is coming from. And I’ve always been that way. I’ve never owned cosmetics. Like, I might have one or two gifts that somebody’s given me.


I’ve never purchased personal care products. Right? Like, I’m exactly like that. You’ll have the same… The soap and the toothpaste and then a shampoo. And then once it gets over, you buy the next. And then you buy the next.


Yeah. I don’t… I mean… But I guess, like, India is also seeing the kind of money that we never… Yes. Like, during the time when our parents grew up, you did ration out everything. Like, 20 rupees made a difference. You know.


I remember, like, when you would take… You would always use public transport, you would always use a bus. And the few times you would use that auto for the last mile, you would see when that meter changes from, like, 16 rupees to 16.5, you get down from the auto, because you don’t want to, you know, like, end up taking the auto for that extra mile.

mile so um I’m not saying one should um I think you should everything should be in a measure like if you ask me the ideal way to live life because you could have everything and it’s not enough and you could have very little and it could always seem enough I’ve always believed that I had a lot I’ve always believed that even as a kid I would be like my house is the most beautiful the dresses that my mother stitched me are the most beautiful the food that she put on my table is the best kind of food and I think it’s the attitude like i feel if you grow from a mindset where i was a very happy kid like I had a beautiful childhood


Nansi Mishra: 11:10

But i’m amazed to see that you don’t you didn’t uh get influenced.


Suhasini Sampath: 11:13

um i mean i don’t know I mean I’m guessing


Nansi Mishra: 11:17

Because I got influenced

I had this mindset that I’ll only because I lived with my relatives yeah so you’re always very conscious with the living with when you’re living with your relatives that you’ll you try your best to minimize your expenses that you’re living with someone so they they are already spending on your studies and transport so you shouldn’t buy clothes so I would wear my uh cousin’s clothes yeah um when I’m at home obviously uh so and then i got married and my sister-in-law she’s she’s into skincare because like you enjoy food she enjoys skincare and she likes taking care of her feet hands and she likes doing that so she buys these things and i started feeling that i don’t do anything for myself and that was the phase when Kabir was small and I was, I started feeling that I don’t have my life. Everything is Kabir. I don’t have a career. I don’t have my own routine. Don’t have friends. So I started buying these things. And then I realized that it got hectic for me because I don’t have time and I want to

be focused on my career and I have over complicated things for me. What if I have a very minimal routine for myself that I’ll only work for four or five hours? And I’ll spend the rest of the time with Kabir. I shouldn’t be spending time with friends because whenever I meet friends they are not in my shoes. So I feel like there is this negative thing I take with me when I get home. So I’m like, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t risk it. I call them when I need them or they can call me when I, when they need me. But I limited those things. And there was no skincare routine for me. Yeah. And I started cleaning my washroom and I should get back to those three, four products kind of routine for myself.


And I think I’m so much more focused now.




I don’t go to malls now because I don’t enjoy it because Kabir is crying when I’m in malls.

So I would, you know, rather visit Indiranagar. We have open shops and if I need something, I’ll go to the shop. I’ll buy something or I’ll buy something for Kabir and we are home.


Suhasini Sampath: 13:25


Yeah. So I think. So I’ve gone.

So I’ve gone one step further. So my wardrobe has pajamas. Like I just have black pajamas and I have black tops and I just have a lot of those. And the only two, three things that I have are a couple of jackets. So I would just literally have a couple of kurtas and jackets. I don’t like to think about it. And I like these Indian artisan shoes, like the more, the, the, like they make these really comfortable shoes.


I’ll have three or four of those. And I don’t like to think about it at all. I don’t want to waste my time. Kind of. Kind of like optimizing on how I look every day. It’s irrelevant. I feel like everybody looks nice.


And I, for me, like I, I, I function very differently, but, but to, to the point about friends, right. I’m definitely the kind of person who doesn’t like to lose any relationship.


Like my friends date back to when I was studying in, I’ve never lost a friend, like through the years, whether it’s Clooney, like the school I went to or National Public School or those colleges I went to or, you know, the places I worked. I, um, it would really break my heart. Like, I’m definitely the kind of person who likes to keep, I value my relationships a lot.

And I definitely think I’m the one who puts a lot more effort keeping it together. Um, so I would much rather spend time on those things, uh, on my interactions with people,

uh, rather than like all of, like, I feel like beyond, maybe it’s the age also. I don’t know. Like maybe I’m, maybe it’s also the time where you, it really doesn’t matter. Like maybe it’s just.


Nansi Mishra: 14:54


It’s amazing. Like, how do you, how do you do it?

Like you ran a company and are still running it. You have a four-year-old kid and you, you know, want to stay in touch with all our friends.


Suhasini Sampath: 15:05

I keep everything else around my life very simple. It’s the same meal every day.


Nansi Mishra: 15:09


The way you, you know, the way you have kept your routine very minimal.


Suhasini Sampath: 15:14

It’s very useful. It’s the same philosophy. Because you don’t like it, there’s no mind, like I eat the same three meals every day. I eat, I dress the same. Like I have like a couple of things and I’ll wear exactly that. I have my clothes to work out and I like the clothes that I wear outside are properly arranged.


Nansi Mishra: 15:35


So it’s like, you should have a very limited number of decisions to make so that you can focus on the most important decisions in your life. So it sucks your energy when you have to pick, this to wear, this to wear, this to do, this to do.


Suhasini Sampath: 15:47


And I also feel the act. I mean, I have a big problem with the beauty industry in general.

I feel like the notion of beauty is. Just so warped, uh, who is to decide, right? Like why is clear skin so important? Why is white skin so important? Why are red lips so important?


I find, um, I find like, I actually think the beauty industry has destroyed our intellect. Like, I feel like everyone likes fat lips, who’s to say that fat or thin lips look better.

Who’s to say like, why are, and it’s all marketing dollars driven towards conforming beauty to certain notions? And I don’t find that acceptable.


I feel like, like, like when you, I mean, I feel like all, everybody’s beautiful. Like, what is the problem? Like people, as long as you’re a functioning individual, the only thing you should optimize for is health. Of course, people should be healthy.


Like, and of course, to the extent that your external, you know, like, suppose you have a rash, you need to investigate it because they could be an underlying health condition.

But beyond that, as long as you’re a functioning individual, who’s healthy. Why does it matter?


Every, I mean, I, I, for me, it’s like, it’s not so obvious to me that a certain kind of beauty is better than a certain, like I would see people quite equally like, and I end up finding a lot of people just interesting. People are unique.


I don’t like this concept of beauty. Like it really bothers me.


And I feel like at some point,


Nansi Mishra: 17:15


It is truly concerning because I have also noticed this after I had Kabir, uh, that women have to make a lot of decisions in their daily life.


Hmm. Like the, the moment we are awake, I have to dress up Kabir. Obviously Siddhartha is with me, but Kabir is small. So he’s more dependent on me.


Siddhartha is happy to help, but he’s like, mujhe mama ke godhe mein jana hai, mama ke sath hi sona hai, mama se hi pajama payna hai. There are things. Yeah. So, uh, I want that I have to make very less number of decisions I should be making.


So this is concerning ki jitne zyada beauty products hai, jitne jyada serums hai, jitne jyada hair mask alag hai. Yeah. or face mask and there are so many products and all of these products are for women mostly and we are we shouldn’t we should be trying that women they have to make less decisions in their life so they can focus on their career

and the most important things and then they are like we have glorified it a little that it’s their life they should choose but if you look fundamentally then the more minimal you make the better decision. Toh agar aap inn sab cheezo mai stuck ho. That a man can dress up in a very subtle way and he’s feeling so confident or he’s going to a meeting and you are spending one hour dressing up. We have over complicated this.


Suhasini Sampath: 18:39


I agree like and I you know and it’s small things right like and I read to my kid every day like I read stories to her I read one fairy tale after the other and all the fairy tales

end the exact same way. There is a beautiful princess, there is a notion of beauty there is a beautiful and then she ends up with a handsome prince and they end up happily ever after how many instances in life are going to end up that way like I’m a perfectly .. It’s shocking that we give our children the impression that solving beauty is going to solve problems in life. I think the way we storytell is wrong I think the notion of this concept that you know people are beautiful and some people are not is extremely damaging


Nansi Mishra: 19:26


and beautiful people will feel happy


Suhasini Sampath: 19:29


yeah I mean yeah yeah and you know


Nansi Mishra: 19:32


Once you have glossy skin you’ll feel better about yourself.


Suhasini Sampath: 19:35


which is not the case


Nansi Mishra: 19:37


So, I .. I understand when you have acne you should get the treatment then but when the skin is I don’t have any acne but my skin is not glowing and it’s okay it’s not in my genes or I my mother is not .. my mother doesn’t have that kind of skin so it’s okay I understand … so I’m constantly putting efforts to make my skin look more glossy.


Suhasini Sampath: 20:04


yeah and there’ll be instances in your life and I’ll be .. I’ve never talked about this before … but I’ll tell you right. There was an instance in my life where I think I had gluten intolerance so I basically couldn’t eat gluten, right.


and every time I would eat gluten I would get like boils all across my face .. like there was not a place on my face where there was a boil like there was boils everywhere like I would walk on the road people would you know like Indians are friendly they ask because they care I appreciate it but it can be extremely difficult for somebody when every second person when you’re walking on the road is tapping you and asking you is there something wrong is there something wrong, my daughter had this and you should do the same thing you should put turmeric or whatever … understand people are telling you because they feel bad for you right …. but you know what gives you like it’s a very difficult position to be in because most people are really pitting you .. like people are feeling bad for you but it’s not a situation to really feel bad about you have a couple of boils in your face .. it’s fine and if you don’t inherently as children grow up with that you know it’s okay .. a situation like that can really bring you down like because you go through like I remember I was in an going in a flight and the guy refused to sit next to me he said do you have anything that’s transferable and I’m just like you know I mean it’s a couple of boils on your face are you finding it difficult to look at my face then the problem is with you it’s not with me if we have reached a place in a society where somebody feels like they shouldn’t sit next to me because they’re having difficulty looking at my face who’s the problem with … the problem is with you .. but I was in a place and because of the way I’ve always thought about things to turn around and tell him

that if you are finding it difficult to look at me you should change your seat. I’m not going to go anywhere and the problem is really with the way you are looking at things and the problem isn’t with me and I wish that every person .. like there will always be situations in your life where you will need the only person you can you need to feel good about yourself irrespective of how you are externally and that’s what we should teach our girls like you know and I feel like with the beauty industry I feel we are doing the exact opposite it’s getting competitive people are comparing .. people have a notion and it’s not useful it’s just

it’s not useful for the way we look at life.

Nansi Mishra: 22:22


I think I’ll tell you what’s making me it worse if you have acne you’ll search what to do for acne then your whole Instagram feed Facebook feed it fills up with messages fills up with posts or influencers telling what to do for acne then you start seeing it as a very like

very big problem in my life because the rest of the people on social media are also facing the same thing and the rest of the people have fixed it so now you have forgotten everything in your career now you are with those with whom you have to spend time the things that actually give you happiness that you want to read you want to go out for a walk or you should be doing yoga or exercise you forget about those things you only care about the girl who is telling you she had acne how she got better skin


Suhasini Sampath: 23:09


and you are you are the person with the same heart and the same brain whether or not you have acne you have the same emotions and you have the same head does it really matter that it should occupy .. you should you should do what is needed from a health reason you should do what is needed you know whatever needs to be done like it was a good process yeah it should not be like it should not engulf you right like I mean so yeah I do like

have strong views on the way we things and I can imagine this happened to me 10 years back where India was not so beauty-conscious so it was still okay like imagine if my

if I had this if I had something similar today or my daughter had it and she had to face it I do hope she had the same courage to turn around and say the problem is with your eyes it’s not with my face


Nansi Mishra: 24:00

she’ll have


Suhasini Sampath: 24:01

yeah I hope so


Nansi Mishra: 24:02


she’ll learn from you


Suhasini Sampath: 24:04


I really hope so


Nansi Mishra: 24:05


yeah no I think we have started learning from social media it has its own you know advantages and disadvantages .. we have this podcast available online .. anyone can watch it and anyone can produce a podcast anyone can write a post so it has its own advantages and disadvantages .. I remember one year back Kabir had started developing squint in one of his eyes yeah it made me so conscious and I’ll tell you what I should have done I should have gone to a doctor and after talking to him I should have figured it out that his diet should be protein rich and screen time we have to limit but all I was thinking .. he goes to school and what if everyone laughs at him or makes him feel bad so I was thinking about that and then I was like why am I thinking about future what if his diet is good and I should be doing things that under my control and what if Kabir it doesn’t matter to Kabir.


Suhasini Sampath: 25:08


yeah I mean like when I he has a right to be accepted the way he is … like why should he have to it’s his process like they will be kids I mean I always tell my kid like I don’t like you cannot see people differently however they are .. you have to accept them it’s fine everyone has their own good plus minuses we are all in the end of the day at the end of the day every life is equal like and that you have to always remember like


Nansi Mishra: 25:36


you mentioned in one of your interviews that there is one investor I think he’s from Elevation and you really like the fact about him that he treats everyone equally equally so

there comes this point that ..


Suhasini Sampath: 25:53


my dad was a bit like that like I would say that you know when we were growing up my house used to be a kind of like open door and you know like people

like government employees and stuff if they had any problem with their land they would come they would sit with my dad try to understand and they would all like everyone was treated exactly the same my dad would help everybody everyone’s allowed to come and ask him for help and how much ever he can help he would help everybody so like I remember helping somebody and you know it’s a big thing to own your own land your own house for you know a certain section of society and my dad would do it freely and nobody gets it comes from there I do think that yeah seeing people equally is a is a is a is a good way to be happy yeah it’s a good way to be happy


Nansi Mishra: 26:40


I think we all should learn that we should treat everyone equally and look se sirf differentiation nahi hona chahiye. yeah of course .. someone is looking different doesn’t mean that he or she deserves a different kind of treatment.


Suhasini Sampath: 26:56


Absolutely, absolutely

Nansi Mishra: 26:58

Suhasini you mentioned in one of your interviews I think it was after the exit. that when you started Yoga Bar .. India mai healthy nahi bikta .. tasty bikta hai. Do you think it has changed?


Suhasini Sampath: 27:15


It’s interesting you asked that question


I do


going by the size of the health food industry and comparing it to the chocolate industry or the chips industry or the Haldirams etc., it is still very small. It’s growing fast. It’s growing quickly. But abhi bhi health taste k binna nahi bikega. Like that’s the truth of it. you have to have 80% health and 20% taste.


So, yea. I mean, but you can make products much much better.


For instance, people think Kelloggs chocos are healthy.


But at the end of the day, it is full of maida. So, how can you?


Like when we did our chocos, we did 70% extrusion with millets and dal. So, we took daal, basically the dal that people eat, we took all the millets and we did instead of 70% maida. Let us put 70% whole grains and dal and make chocos but you can’t remove the chocolate because then the kids won’t touch it.


And the educated parents like people who look at the nutrition label, etc have come to that balance like you can’t be 100% healthier .. kids are not going to adapt. But somewhere that answer is between health and taste. So you can’t say 100% health I would say 80-70, 80% Healthy 20-30% taste.


Nansi Mishra: 28:35


and what are the products or ingredients we Indians consume that are not healthy, but you don’t care about it like if you


Suhasini Sampath: 28:48


I noticed the primary one is definitely the samosas and the vada pavs so I inherently believe that gluten is a bad ingredient like maida is just lots of carbs and it also spikes sugar and Indians eat a lot of maida because every covering is right like whether you eat bread .. you should choose the wheat bread now Britannia also has a millet plus wheat bread ..

so you should always choose the healthier option on the island that’s quite beneficial I believe Indians choose a lot like vada pav and samosas are quite harmful like talking about 650 calories of just empty carbs right so with zero protein but the really healthy food that Indians eat is we eat a lot of dal so dal is great milk is great sattu is great

vegetables we Indians eat you need to cook it a little bit less. Eating it a little bit more boiled and less cooked is quite useful. I’m not a non-vegetarian so I don’t know so much about non-veg food at all .. but yeah the milk consumption in India is quite high.


Also, the good part is the farms in India are not as, you know, it’s not as industrial. You know, Amul, which still controls a very large part of the milk produced in the country, still works with people.


A village person has their own cow. They go to the Amul cooperative. And so getting that as naturally as possible is super useful. So the quality of milk and dairy produced is a lot better in this country.


Nansi Mishra: 30:18


So it’s like we don’t have alternatives. Like we don’t have anything that tastes. But you only mentioned in one conversation that Yoga Bar is Yoga Bar, chocolate is chocolate.

So people get to choose between, because they are two different products.

Suhasini Sampath: 30:35


But if you’re eating something every day, the indulgence when you’re eating chocolate, that one meal of the week eating chocolate is different. If you’re snacking every day .. You can’t eat chocolate every day. You have to pick a Yoga Bar five days of the week and pick that chocolate one day of the week. That’s fine. Because that means at least for four days of the week, you’ve got whole grains.


So what do we make Yoga Bars from? We make it from whole grains, nuts and seeds. Those are our primary ingredients. And we add some cocoa and cocoa butter. That’s it. We just mix all of that. And that’s the product right.


Now, you can’t be eating chocolates every day because diabetes is a real problem in India. Like sugar is like, in fact, today, I mean, if you’re asking me where health is showing up .. We have no sugar muesli. So zero sugar.


No, no raisins, no dates, no nothing. Zero total sugar. It sells. Zero total sugar, right? And that’s the fastest selling product in Reliance and Dmart. Wow. And we’re talking about Reliance and Demart. We’re not talking about, I’m choosing Reliance and Dmart to talk about because I’m saying the shopper who comes to Reliance and DMart also understands health today. It’s not only the affluent people who are shopping online.


Nansi Mishra: 31:41


So what are the four five things the urban population should be having in a day where they can’t cook at home and there are things they can opt for and you should by replacing few of the things.


Suhasini Sampath: 31:53


Yeah. So I would say lots of fruits. You start your breakfast with fruits.


So even if you’re eating like 40 grams of muesli, put one plate of fruit. Okay. One plate of fruit, some muesli or whatever, rather than, you know, having a lot of rice and all that in the morning, puri, all of that.


No, no oil fried stuff. Some muesli or some cornflakes or whatever. And lots of fruits.


I would say lunch should be like, you have to have, like, I’m a big fan of eating a lot of broccoli. I eat broccoli all the time. So I eat like one floret of broccoli a day. So I would say instead of choosing the Maida pasta, choose a whole grain pasta, choose the non-Maida one.


So whatever you eat in the afternoon, whether it’s kichadi, have vegetables with it. If you’re having roti, have vegetables with it. So finish your two of five and your lunch, two of the five portion vegetables and fruits that you need to eat in a day, you finish that during lunch,


then you have, I’m a big believer in drinking a lot of milk. So I don’t go the vegan way. Like I would say you have to get protein as a vegetarian. So have protein, have some way in your proteins that you get that 20, 30 grams of protein. I also beyond six o’clock one should not eat. You have to give your stomach that rest. So for your dinner, keep it light.


Um, you know, either have, um, again, repeat some vegetables and.


Nansi Mishra: 33:15


So you don’t have to over-complicate it


Suhasini Sampath: 33:17


So overcomplicated


And once you create a habit, that habit is easy to maintain and snacking is a big one. The place where people go wrong is mid-evening snacking and night snacking.


If you sleep early, that night’s midnight snacking goes out of the window.

If you make a habit of sleeping at 9:30, finish your last meal by six o’clock. And, um, if you’re snacking in between your lunch and dinner, pick a healthy snack.


Nansi Mishra: 33:41


Yeah, I think that’s the problem. I’m talking about, um, everyone, most of the people who are not health conscious, or even if they are, they can’t afford it. So if they are, they get a bhujia or, uh, some kind of chips to snack on or they have to buy something that’s not affordable. They’ll pick bhujia or namkeen. And that is something that will spoil the entire other routine they have for themselves.


Suhasini Sampath: 34:07


Yeah. Yeah.


I think there are, uh, um, I don’t think like .. I think Avoid the cover.




You know, like I was telling you that sometimes barriers present opportunities if I was not gluten intolerant, I would never have discovered that there are so many snacks. There’s so much snacking that you can do. If you leave Maida out, it’s a big thing.




Like if there was one tip, just don’t pick the stuff that has Maida at the label. Like just don’t pick Maida stuff.

Nansi Mishra: 34:36


Suhasini can you, uh, you know, list out four five things Indians are doing wrong? Like one of the things I can recall having biscuits with tea.


Suhasini Sampath: 34:46


Like avoid biscuits, first of all.


Completely avoid biscuits.


Because biscuits are just maida, hydrogenated fat and sugar. There’s no nutrition there.


I would say Indians are deficient in protein. You have to make up your protein during the day. Obviously, if you’re vegetarian, you can’t eat eggs. But you have to make up your protein with either tofu, paneer. So be conscious about your protein intake.


Avoid biscuits. Avoid the samosa and vada pav. And try to do like only one cheat meal a week. So you don’t feel deprived. You don’t feel like you’re not getting to eat anything.

Like restricting that and eating by 6 o’clock. Like keep like a hard stop and say that beyond 6 or 7. By 6 to 7, finish it. From 7 to the next morning, don’t eat.


Because the body needs to reset. Like you need that rest.


Nansi Mishra: 35:39


So like… 40% of millennials, they skip their breakfast. Why is that happening?


Suhasini Sampath: 35:47


Because they wake up late.


The reason… Like if you’re waking up at 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock in the morning, you’re going to get hungry by 9. But if you wake up at 10 in the morning, you don’t find the need to make breakfast, right?


You just have lunch. It’s very interrelated, right?


Like your sleep habits, your food habits, your workout influences your protein.


So the way you live your life influences a lot of what you end up doing. The choices that you end up making.


Nansi Mishra: 36:18


And is there a different set of suggestions for women? Because women need different kind of…


Suhasini Sampath: 36:25


So I would say for women, calcium and protein are really important because you need to keep your bones strong. I also feel like Indian women don’t find the need to work out the way people abroad do.


So I would say incorporating that workout, you know, because you’re all day or just thinking about your family. But you need to think about yourself and you can do much more for your family if you are at the peak of your health. So do that walk. Do that walk for one hour in case you’re not going.


Find that yoga class. It’s very social… The reason to go and work out with other people is also you make a couple of friends there, then it becomes… It doesn’t feel like a chore.


It feels like you’re going there too, you know…


Nansi Mishra: 37:02


And I think a lot of women don’t get to experience that kind of time.




So whenever I, you know, do yoga…


I feel very happy. It’s not because I have back pain issues. So I’m doing yoga and I won’t have pain. It’s like during that one hour, I think that I’m doing something for myself.


And I’m getting to think about… There’s a pause for an hour. What happened the whole day? What shouldn’t I have done? What should I have done? It’s like the reason why I prefer yoga over gym .. Because you get less time to think in the gym. Yeah. Music is playing and it’s a little intense.


Suhasini Sampath: 37:41


A lot of people I’ve realized… Also love music, right? It’s a good hour to actually like to dance or to like… It’s just nice. It’s just, you know, it’s that one hour you get to do whatever you like doing. So you should choose the workout that makes it feel like it’s not a workout. So for Indian women, I would say more calcium and protein and more… Like one hour every day for yourself to work out in a way in which it doesn’t feel like a workout.

Nansi Mishra: 38:03


Makes sense. And Suhasini, we also… Like I see these low-fat products. Or low-sugar or zero-sugar. Want to know more about those products. Like whenever we have tea. So there is this third thing apart from brown sugar and white sugar. Zero-sugar, you know, sweetener.




What’s that? Like what are these kinds of products?


Suhasini Sampath: 38:28


So you have to see the source. So if the no-sugar product is chemical, avoid it. If the no-sugar product is stevia and stevia comes from plants, it’s okay. But there’s still research going around. In terms of, you know, whether stevia has any long-term implications on health.


So if you ask me, some sugar a day is fine. Like if you’re only having sugar in your tea in the morning and evening, it’s okay. You have to measure. But if you’re putting that…

Like eating chocolate, restrict your indulgences to once a week. Then you don’t have to think so much about everything. If you enjoy… You know, in India, that cup of tea is cultural.

It’s the way the family sits together and reads their newspaper or comes together for breakfast. I would say don’t make changes on the things that make you feel like you’re at home or you’re like… The social things don’t change too much.


Change the ones that are… Change the habits that are stress-induced. You put the chocolate in because you feel like suddenly your problems will go away. Don’t do that.


Restrict your indulgences to once a week. Then it doesn’t matter… You don’t have to worry about low-calorie, no-sugar. You avoid biscuits. You avoid chocolate. You do one sheet meal a week. You sleep on time.

You eat between 6 to 7 o’clock. You won’t become a model, but you’ll be healthy. You’ll be okay. I have never… Some people tell me, like, you’re not skinny enough. I’ve never visited a hospital or I’ve never gone to a doctor in 20 years, right? I’ve never seen a doctor. I’ve never taken medicine in my life. I probably took… The last medicine I took was something my mother gave me when I was 5 years old.


I’ve never taken… The last I took was the COVID vaccine. I’ve never taken medicine in my life. I was able to have a child quite late in my life. I mean, I got married late. I got married when I was 35.


I had a child quite easily. I think those are the indicators of… I was 36. Okay. I think the indicators of health have to be changed. Like, people assume…


Nansi Mishra: 40:28


And it was okay for you, the delivery?


Suhasini Sampath: 40:31


Like, the day before Elevation .. put money in the company, Manipal Hospital is opposite. We signed the term sheet. I went to the hospital that night.


And we were doing the diligence literally the day after that. I have never struggled to not do anything. And during my pregnancy, most people didn’t even know I was pregnant because I was just… I was fine.


Nansi Mishra: 40:54


This is so amazing.


Suhasini Sampath: 40:55


Yeah. And a lot of people come back and tell me, you’re in a health food company, you’re not skinny. I’m like, I have never taken a pill in my life. To me, that’s a better indicator of health. I can lift 50 kgs. I can do push-ups.


Like, 30 push-ups, I won’t break a sweat. Like, I’m really strong. Like, even my gym instructor who comes to train me will say it. Like, I’m very, very strong. Like, I’m mentally strong. I’m physically strong.


Why do I need to look like a size zero? I don’t need to look like a size zero.

Nansi Mishra: 41:22


I think I can connect the dots now. Like, you’re focused. You’re so driven. You have a minimal lifestyle.


Suhasini Sampath: 41:30


I focus on the important things.


My relationships are very important. Like, I’m very social… Like, I love… Like, I’ll talk to everybody. Every flight I’ve taken… in my life, I have made two friends. We might not keep in touch…


Nansi Mishra: 41:43


So, you don’t sit with entrepreneurs?


Suhasini Sampath: 41:45


I mean, I feel I need honest conversation. Like, if somebody’s…


Nansi Mishra: 41:50


Maybe after this podcast, I get to sit with you.


Suhasini Sampath: 41:53


No, no, of course. I also… I mean, I have a very large social circle. Yeah.


But also, I mean, my closest friends are people who have known me from the time I was like 14, 15 years and some even earlier than that.


Nansi Mishra: 42:05


But this is so amazing.


Suhasini Sampath: 42:06


But I would say, like, in life, you should always keep your life really simple.


Like, I feel we… We complicate our lives too much. It’s quite simple, actually. It’s… You only need food, shelter, clothing, and you need to take care of… The house you live in is your body. So, you have to make sure that you do what is good for your body. Like, but not overstress, right? Like, and you should… You can’t impress everybody all the time and it’s okay. Like, it’s fine.


Nansi Mishra: 42:31


So, minimalism is the key. You can…

You can do everything, but if you do it in… Like, on the right… Yeah. Like, you can socialize also. You can build a company.

You can deliver a baby, like…


Suhasini Sampath: 42:49


I mean, that is just genetic. Like, I can’t take credit for… Like…


Nansi Mishra: 42:51


But maybe it has something. I think I can say…


Suhasini Sampath: 42:55


Yeah, but I, like, I have never… Like, I won’t waste money on a Coke. Like, I’ve never drunk Coke in my life. I’m okay. I don’t buy ice creams. I don’t… I’ve never liked biscuits and stuff. The last time I ate was 20 years ago. So, and it’s fine.


And I think, like, you know, like, some people say, like, yeah, for all the health things that you tell me, you don’t look… I’m like, your notion of what looks healthy is very different from my notion of what is healthy. My notion of health is if I run a race today with a 20-year-old and I’m in the gym with a 20-year-old, can I lift weights like her? Can I run on the treadmill faster than her? So, my benchmark… I’m okay to have, like, a little bit of flab. It’s a natural process of aging. I don’t want to do anything about it. But can I constantly, you know, challenge myself? For, you know, in terms of performing or, like, in terms of, like, health parameters that are important, valuable to our life, not some external, you know, gratification. For me, that is more important.


Like, yeah, I think I made the right choice. I think some of these things, I might have made mistakes along the way, but I think it’s fine.


If you end up with a life where you feel that you’ve mostly been happy, I think you’ve done a few right things. I’m saying if you mostly have been satisfied, grateful, happy, then it’s fine. You’ve made choices that have worked for you. It’s fine.


If you feel like you’ve spent a life where you’ve constantly felt upset, you constantly feel like you’ve been compared, you’ve constantly feel like you’ve let yourself down, then it’s time to relook and say, what are the choices that I could do differently?

Nansi Mishra: 44:23


Suhasini, tell me about the time when you were, you had a baby and company was still at a…


Suhasini Sampath: 44:30


Those were actually very beautiful times in my life. I would definitely say that the best thing to happen to me was…


Nansi Mishra: 44:36

But the timing?


Suhasini Sampath: 44:38




Nansi Mishra: 44:39




Suhasini Sampath: 44:39


Because, and I mean, Aadiya was born in 2019 and COVID struck in 2020. Now I’m very sad that COVID happened. I think a lot of people went through a lot of difficulty. But for me personally, it also meant that I got to spend more time with her. And I really enjoyed my time. Like I’m very like, even when she was six months, I would read a lot to her and I would sing to her. I had routines. Like for me, like I would make these small routines. Yeah. I didn’t find it, and my investors were very nice about the whole thing. Like I feel it was easy for them to understand because all of them are parents themselves. Most of them have daughters. To be honest, yeah, Kannan has two daughters. Deepak has one daughter, one son. Yeah.

I feel like people understand that


Nansi Mishra: 45:27


There’s still a lot to do. Yeah, but… can you do it?


you do it.


But there’s a strong message we are sending through this podcast that the right set of choices, the right kind of routine with the minimal, routine or needs. Yeah. You can, you can,


Suhasini Sampath: 45:43


You can have, you can have a lot. Yeah. I don’t know if you can have everything. Yes, yes. You may, you may not be, you may not ever be able to have everything. Yeah. But you can have enough.


Nansi Mishra: 45:51


At least that point in time. Yeah. Things that matter the most, you don’t have to compromise with any of those things at least.


Suhasini Sampath: 45:59


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


Nansi Mishra: 46:00

Very nice. Yeah. I think I have a lot to learn from you.


Suhasini Sampath: 46:05


I mean, I, I mean, I’m, I’m just saying it as it is. I don’t know. Different people, people derive happiness from different things.

I know people who are extremely spirited unless they do like that best company and for them, the company matters more than their family and all of that. I’m not that person and I’m, I’m okay to make that choice. I would much rather be as my, as my inherent ability to balance a lot of things, I’m okay to have a little of a lot of things and not the maximum of any one thing. I do believe people who have a more balanced life tend to be happier. And I would much rather optimize for being the happiest person on the planet than optimize for being a lot of the other things. Like, and that would be my life’s goal.


Like how I will never know if I’m the happiest person in the world. It’s impossible to measure. And therefore it’s a good thing to aspire because if you’re constantly aspiring as to how to be happier every day, you’re, that’s the best thing you can actually do for yourself.


Neither can it be measured. Neither will you ever be unhappy. Uh, and you’ll always make the choices that inherently optimize that. And there’s no better purpose in life. Your purpose of existence, your existence should be that you feel better every day.

Nansi Mishra: 47:12




Makes sense. And Suhasini, uh, Yoga Bar is now part of ITC, right? Um, uh, what’s that one thing you have learned from ITC, like institutions, like ITC?


Suhasini Sampath: 47:26



so I’ve learned a lot of things, but I would say the thing that I was most impressed with is, um, their work ethic. I think ITC, at least everyone I have seen, and then met, I do believe for them, work is worship. Like I do believe they treat work as really important and they find that motivation to really deliver excellence. Um, that’s something that, that even I’m learning from, like, um, you know, how do you push yourself? Like as an entrepreneur, it comes naturally. It’s your company, whatever, right? And of course, even in ITC shareholders and employees, I mean, employees are also shareholders, et cetera. So in a sense that it is a shareholder run company, but to push yourself, towards excellence every day, um, and senior management, like I remember there was one time when we had our board meeting on Saturday and, um, Mr. Malik was, you know, he has the food division and he said, if there’s a spillover, I’m okay to come on Sunday because I understand you guys are traveling on Monday, like such a senior person.




Um, first of all, having the humility to tell us that I’ll work around your time schedule, um, and to offer to come on a Sunday is, is, is because I’m sure there, their job is a lot more stressful than mine, because now that I have ITC looking after a lot of the distribution, et cetera, my jobs become a lot easier in their system. So I think learning that high quality work ethic is something that I get to witness firsthand.

Nansi Mishra: 48:53


And, um, you are now part of ITC and, um, we see all these new age brands, Yoga Bar is one of them, and we have different styles of working and marketing strategies are different. How are these institutions different from these new age brands? Like apart from scale, what’s what’s different?


Suhasini Sampath: 49: 15



I think institutions are much more long-term thinking because I think when you end up doing a startup and I’m going by my classical mistakes, right? You can’t chase revenue all the time. You have to go deep in a category.


The reason ITC eventually bought the Yoga Bar is not because the revenue was X or Y. They bought it because we had serious market share in bars and we had serious market share in muesli. And most of our product extensions, they could see it as taking market share. Um, new-age companies try to do multiple brands, multiple products. And it, I feel like it’s difficult to manage offline when you have .. when you don’t have depth in a category, you can’t influence margins. You can’t influence price. You can’t influence, um, you know,

trade to get really attracted unless you have serious market share.


And I think the fundamental difference between the institution and the way the startups work is you keep optimizing for revenue irrespective of the quality of that revenue. It’s a mistake that, you know, we also went into line extensions. We tried to launch an entire Ayurvedic set of products and it really bombed, right? Yeah. But, what really is valuable is going deep in a category, owning as much market share as possible. That’s what.


Nansi Mishra: 50:29


But you were also focused on, you know, building bars, like making bars only for initial six years, right? So ..


Suhasini Sampath: 50:36


which was a good decision.




Because that meant that,

that, you know, we never used to spend on marketing and all that, that much. We never had whatever inside Amazon, Flipkart, whatever ads we used to run. Right. Yeah. But because we were so focused on it, like the minute we launched Muesli. Yeah. It was so easy for people to trust the brand because they knew that the,


it’s coming from Yoga Bar,


it’s coming from, we can trust it. Yeah. We can trust it. And I think that was actually in retrospect, a very good thing that we did. Because if we try to extend across 10 different categories, we might not have, we might not have been ever able to kind of convince a strategic investor, why they should buy two to 2% in a hundred different categories,

better to buy 30%. And because then as the market size grows and its categories that you want to bet on, you would be okay to acquire a company and do that.


Nansi Mishra: 51:24


Yeah. And I think this is one of the reasons why ITC took a bet.




Like you were, it was always like long-term thinking, building distribution for one thing and then going on for the next thing.


Suhasini Sampath: 51:37


Yeah. Yeah. And also the fact of doing Omni channel, right?

Like we were available and we were able to sell and collect cash offline. Yeah. Billing, not just billing. You can show sales, but you have to collect that cash. It means trade actually believes that your product sells.


Nansi Mishra: 51:53




So amazing. And you also mentioned that people would ask for a Yoga Bar, not.


Suhasini Sampath: 52:00


Yeah. Even if they were buying a competitor product, it became like a noun.


Nansi Mishra: 52:03


Yeah. And we have these brands, yeah. Pet saffa of, uh, uh, one of their products is Pet saffa. Uh, its founder said that, um, if a customer goes to the shop and he asks for pet saffa and, uh, paid stuff available nahi hai toh shopkeeper suggest, um, some other alternatives. Yeah. And, uh, he takes that.

So he’s like branding toh ho gaya, but if this is the situation, then you are working for your competitors, not for yourself. Yeah. So you should also like distribution very important … ke bina kuch bhi nahi hai.


Suhasini Sampath: 52:38


Yea, yea, yea .. It’s very important.


Nansi Mishra: 52:39


Like, do you want to comment on that?


Suhasini Sampath: 52:43


So, I mean, the primary reason for doing the strategic deal was to make sure that we get distributed to all the relevant. It’s been very difficult to build. Yeah.


It’s not easy to build offline distribution at all.


Nansi Mishra: 52:52


Is it because of healthy health? Because not


Suhasini Sampath: 52:54


It’s a very expensive process. You need 300 crores at the very minimum to kind of build a sensible distribution. And even then your relationships with this, you should remember that the ITCs and the Daburs of the world have relationships with their distributors spanning hundred years. How are you going to substitute that?


Nansi Mishra: 53:13




So it was more like finding a home for


Suhasini Sampath: 53:15

finding a home for a brand that will live. Yeah. Yeah. That will live.


Nansi Mishra: 53:20


I’m sure you will feel amazing. And I’ll also feel it because we have this conversation.

I feel connected with you. So whenever we see a Yoga Bar in next 30 years, 40 years, if I, if I’m there, of course, it will be an amazing feeling.


Suhasini Sampath: 53:35


Yeah. I mean, it will be nice. I mean, I, I do look forward to a point where, you know, like,


Nansi Mishra: 53:40


I can tell Kabir and I know she’s my friend. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe.


Suhasini Sampath: 53:47


And but a lot of heart and soul has gone into building the brand. A lot of definitely like we didn’t do shortcuts. We didn’t like what we really like even today and this is blind audit, right? Anyone who goes to my home, opens the drawer. The only packaged food you’ll find either be the Yoga Bar, oats, the chocos or and I eat the Yoga Bar chocolate muesli. I call it my bowl of happiness. Like in the morning, I get up like, of course, measuring 40 grams of muesli and a whole plate of strawberries and apple mango season is coming. It’s the reason I’m just waiting for the mango season, but it’s I mean, we make food like the way we make it for our family.

Nansi Mishra: 54:28


And so what are the other brands you really admire?


Suhasini Sampath: 54:32


I like Biotique. I find that their products are quite honest. I like it. For personal care.

I definitely think that their products are quite good. I use their soaps and I use their toothpaste.


Nansi Mishra: 54:44


Any other company that has taken counterintuitive vets?


Suhasini Sampath: 54:51


I mean, I like Vahdam Teas. I find Vahdam Teas quite natural, quite,

quite high quality tea and I love my tea. So I think Vahdam has done a pretty good job with the product. And I think Forest essentials, et cetera, are quite good brands.

Like I do believe they look beautiful. They deliver a certain version of India that has a certain kind of aesthetic and my favorite kind of home decor brand is Good Earth.

I feel they do get the design. They do get aesthetic.


Nansi Mishra: 55:26


So if you can name five, six brands that have really changed the habits of Indian consumers for good.


Suhasini Sampath: 55:34




So I think in clothing, I would say it’s Zudio and Zara. I would definitely say they’re opening in India and expanding their stores. Zudio, of course, owned by the Tata’s. Zara’s also, I think Tata’s investment, like I think it’s a JV. Yeah, it’s a JV. So I do think that opened up the clothing space fully. H&M for kids clothes, I would say. I would say food is difficult. I think it’s owned by the FMCG companies. And I think I might be biased, but I think except for us, I don’t think, I mean, I think we built a serious company in food. I think Vahdam’s interesting from a tea perspective.


I think personal care, I’ve always liked biotique. Biotique, Mysore Sandal, Medimix, the companies that took really long to kind of build who they were.


What else? In, in, in, in design and home stuff, I think Nicobar, Good Earth. I think they’ve over a period of 20, 30 years, built a very solid brand for themselves.


Nansi Mishra: 56:40


I have a friend. He’s also building a healthy product, healthy food. He’s building in the healthy food category. And he had a very bad experience with VCs with his first venture.




And he got multiple rejections and then he started something else. And he’s so much focused on just cracking the distribution. Now, he doesn’t want to do any branding or marketing because he doesn’t have the budget. Yeah. And that’s because at the same time, he doesn’t want to raise some VCs. Yeah. It’s like VCs. They don’t understand your, you know, perspective. And when you take money from them, you are forced or you feel the pressure to do things in a way you don’t want to pursue. So he’s taking government grants because in that case, you have less pressure and you can sustain because without money, you can’t build the product. Yeah. So there are things he mentioned that as you also mentioned in one of the interviews, VC hallucinations.


Suhasini Sampath: 57:43


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. For food. For food. No, I’ll be, I’ll be, let me actually rephrase that, right?


The VC hallucination comment was for telling people to grow food through D2C, through their website.




A 30 to 40% gross margin product cannot sustain through a website.


You need a 70% gross margin product. So just because everybody does D2C, personal care can do D2C. Food cannot because your gross margins have to be north of 60% because you have the logistics cost.


You have the marketing costs. Then you have to generate a profit, right? To be fair to VCs, without them, it’s not possible to accelerate your growth. Now, if I had to do Yoga Bars over a 50 year journey, somebody with my background, I mean, we had one house. That my father got allotted through the government. It is impossible for me to sustain. I don’t have a family business. Yeah. Nobody in my history has ever done business in my house without their support. Would it have been possible at all for me to do what I’ve done?

Absolutely not. I think the responsibility lies on both sides. I think the valuations have to be accurate. If you can’t, like, I remember that when we were raising, there were a couple of companies at half our revenue and 2x our losses getting valued higher than us. Now, it causes problems for both parties. No strategy is going to give you that kind of value.

And by the VC doing that, they’ve created, made it expensive for everybody because suddenly this person has got so much money and they’re just throwing it behind, not building a sustainable business.


Their responsibility lies in both the entrepreneur building properly and the venture capitalists doing it at the right value, doing it at the right amount of money.


Like you don’t just, it’s not an industry where you can just, money is going to solve your problems. Paisa de diya, kal revenue a jayega aur financials bhi theek ho jayega, aisa kuch nahi hota.


Aur ye ARR sab kuch is just bakwaas. People don’t value you on your annual run rate. There is a buying cycle for the consumer for food. Like for juices, it’s April, May, June when it’s summer. You have to do it.


Full years, last year’s revenue is where people value you.


Nansi Mishra: 59:55


I think this is one of the reasons why partnering with the right people makes all the difference. People, like now I think all the entrepreneurs, they don’t raise money from anyone. They raise money from people who can actually be supportive because they understand the space, they understand the needs and how exactly they can add value.

Now like this is the new trend that entrepreneurs, especially second time entrepreneurs, prefer to take money from experts, slash angels, than institutions.


Suhasini Sampath: 1:00:29




I mean, if you, I mean, you also have to price it right. Like, I’m, I mean, I’m a very clever investor and a lot of entrepreneurs expect a certain valuation. You have to be realistic.

Like you have to leave money on the table to make money. And I think that’s the important thing to remember. There is no such thing as a good deal. The deal happens when everyone gets an exit and all parties on the table have won.


There is no me winning, you losing your money. There is no, you have to, the best negotiations happen when everyone has walked away from that table, feeling like they all got something. That’s important


Nansi Mishra: 1:01:07


Something you felt after your?


Suhasini Sampath: 1:01:11


Yeah, of course. Right.

Nansi Mishra: 1:01:13


And you also mentioned many times about your father and how many in your life contributed or supported you to be more ambitious. And, and can you comment on that? Because it’s very important.


There are so many women and especially when they have to make the decision to choose the right partner for themselves, right?


What kind of, like, suppose we have a very ambitious working woman and she has to make that decision for herself. What are the qualities she shouldn’t compromise with?


Suhasini Sampath: 1:01:49


Yeah. See, so this is a very long topic. Yeah. You know, and, and it’s actually, um, involves looking at life a bit differently.




That my father was who my father was, was my luck.




I was born to him. I’m very fortunate. I also don’t want to take away from the, uh, things that my mother has done for me. I had very good parents. I have very, my mom’s still alive and, uh, obviously I’m very, very fortunate. Right.


Um, I also think most men have to look at their daughters like the way my dad did. If there’s one lesson to be learned, my father, you know, when the third daughter was born, everybody was telling him, I’m so sorry.


And my dad was like, the third one’s also like Indira Gandhi. So, you know, to take that sense of seriousness and to take that sense of, I mean, I want my daughters to realize that potential and for a man, we’re talking about this 50 years ago, takes, takes, takes a certain kind of human being.


And, um, if more people are that broad-minded, it’s better for society.


So the lesson for most men is that you should, and I think India is getting there to be very honest.

I think today India is getting there. Coming to the second part. Like Aditya obviously came in at a time where my business was negative revenue. He helped me throughout the ITC process. He did the entire online sales when my offline sales tanked.


And it’s a lot of sacrifice. Like it is not easy for someone to come and fix a business, um, and to also not, um, you know, um, and he’s sensible enough to know that it’s, it’s, it’s what he’s doing for my happiness. Right. It’s not, um, it’s not, when you are growing your own business, you’re willing to take all of those hardships, but to do it because it’s the right thing for the family takes a person of a certain maturity. Right. Um, so to answer the question, when I chose my life partner, I only looked for three qualities.


I look for somebody who is completely honest. I don’t want someone who’ll ever, you know, you should be able to talk to each other. You should be able to trust, like trust is number one. Um, I would say you should always look for that friendship.


Like do you all. When, when all that madness settles. And when all that. Everything settles. Are you all both able to truly tell each other how you all feel?


Um, you look for friendship and, um, you look, the third very important quality. Are you marrying a kind human being? Like is somebody able to look at somebody else’s interest?

Um, you know, um, over their own, uh, I’m not somebody who’s actually extremely empathetic or kind, but I work on it and I’ve become a better human being because I’ve seen my husband do it.


I didn’t optimize for the degrees. I didn’t optimize for the money. It wasn’t even a criteria for me. I don’t care about all of that.


The only three criteria I cared about were honesty, kindness and friendship.


And I think if you make choices that are not influenced by pedigree or the fact that he was a very intelligent human being was, uh, um, icing on the cake, it helps that somebody

like I can ask Aditya something about Einstein’s life. Like he would have read the documentary, but I could also ask him about Billy Elliot and he will know.


I would ask him about the political situation right now in Gaza and he would know. So the fact that he’s an encyclopedia is exciting, but inherently as an individual, he’s a very kind human being and that’s what people should seek in a partner. I’m not saying marriages are easy. I’m quick to add that irrespective of two very good human beings being together, sometimes there are the ups and downs of marriage and your value systems will hold you together, but at least when you’re making that choice, don’t make frivolous choices.


Don’t make the choice because somebody went to a good college or somebody has X amount of money. I think that’s not very useful. When I say that you have to adjust your choices, you’re not hiring for a job. You’re not hiring for a, you’re hiring for, I mean, in a lot of ways, you’re hiring for a life partner and for a father of your children.


So you need to make the choice to marry a good human being. That’s the choice to make.


Nansi Mishra: 1:05:59


This makes so much sense because the world has become flashy and we shouldn’t, but we are kind of talking about most of the people. We have started forgetting the roots.

The things we should be focusing on, the core. Marriage kyu work kregi? Partnership kyu work krti hai?


Yea yea.


And Kahi na kahi who picture perfect hume influence krti hai.


Suhasini Sampath: 1:06:29


There’s no, but there’s no such thing as a picture perfect life. It is meandering. There’s no such thing like you will have the ups, you will have the downs, you will have things that you need to get through. And it’s the right attitude. Like what is the learning in each of these situations? How do you take that back home? And make it better the next time. I think that’s the, there’s no such thing as a, as a straight line. I mean, life will never be a straight line and you will never truly be able to understand what somebody else is going through because you haven’t lived their life. So what you see and what other people experience is very, very different from what you see on.


Nansi Mishra: 1:07:11


Yeah. So you should be kind enough to understand.


Suhasini Sampath: 1:07:13


You should always, you should always understand somebody else’s point of view.


Nansi Mishra: 1:07:16


We have started reacting very quickly.


Yeah. So how do we, how do we be more kind that we take a moment to understand if we don’t understand, it’s okay, don’t comment.


Yeah, you can, if you can help, then only you should, you know, come up with some solution or, or yeah, yeah. I’m sure many people are going to learn from this interview.


No, the best and the most important thing they should be learning from you is how to learn from this interview. to make how to focus on the most important things and how do you do that like by making ..


Suhasini Sampath: 1:07:53


Yeah simplifying your life


Nansi Mishra: 1:07:55


Simplifying your life


Suhasini Sampath: 1:07:56


Yeah yeah


Nansi Mishra: 1:07:57


Thank you so much Suhasini.


Suhasini Sampath: 1:07:59


Thank you for having me


Nansi Mishra: 1:08:00


Truly enjoyed it my saturday is well spent


Suhasini Sampath: 1:08:03


Oh i’m happy to hear that


Nansi Mishra: 1:08:05


Thank you so much


Suhasini Sampath: 1:08:06


Thank you, thank you.


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