Gayathri Swahar – A Foodie Marketing Leader Behind the Success of YCook!

In this digital era, everyone is running in the race to achieve desired. This race has fastened our day to day life; many times we even skip food. In this fast-paced digital era, it has become strenuous to get healthy food at right time. But, what if we say you can get fresh, tasty and healthy food within few minutes? Amazed?

YCook’s range of steamed food products never fails to amaze everyone with its out of this world taste, and freshness. Nature has the cure for everything. And so, YCook is committed to delivering truly good food, just the way nature intended.

India is one of the most natural food producer nations in the globe. Our economy revolves around agriculture and so in the boosted digital economy we are struggling and striving hard to get farmers involved in the cycle and contribute to the national economy.

YCook is revolutionizing the farm and food sector with pioneering in steamed snacks products. A woman with an innovative vision and passion to do something that makes a difference, Ms. Gayathri Swahar and her team of driven by passion professionals are making hard and smart efforts to provide the right food to consumers and empower farmers with technological innovations.

Ms. Gayathri Swahar, Brand Custodian at YCook is the backbone behind the company’s long-standing success. Her smart efforts have helped YCook to mark a place in the global food landscape. Gayathri, a humble marketing professional is transmogrifying the sector with her expertise and passion.

YCook!

YCook’s journey started with a simple vision of “Good food for all” and with a continuous obsession with “good food” has helped them to be the pioneers of the steamed snack space, a new category in the food space.  YCook’s technology allows to naturally steam whole grains, without the need for any preservatives or additives creating a shelf life of 1 year without the need for refrigeration.

In essence, YCook’s products are

YCook Products 1

The company started its journey with the Technopreneur grant from the Government of India and this allowed them to understand in detail the process of thermal sterilization and also all the latest advancements in Packaging. They started retailing products in the market in 2012. They also realized when working with natural products such as Ycook’s, consistency is of paramount importance. Since they have not altered the natural product in any way, say for example not making flaking it, pounding it, the quality of input = quality of output. This led them to focus on creating a strong backward integration with the supply chain.

All, that they pack for their consumers are exclusively grown in partnership with farmers. All of their farmers are trained and comply with Global GAP (good agricultural practices) ensuring that their product is free from any pesticide residues. The company is now a BRC, HACCP, FSSC22000 certified along with Halal, Organic, and Kosher certifications, they are also USFDA registered.

YCook’s products are currently available in 26 cities in India and 9 countries across the globe. They have the same quality standards maintained for both domestic and international markets.

YCook’s ‘Tadaa’ range of steamed products is now addressing the needs across the chain of consumption.

  • For the consumer on the go: YCook offers a snack range that is not fried, not baked, just naturally steamed without any preservatives or additives. A snack that is convenient to carry on the go, because it is storable under ambient conditions and does not require any refrigeration. YCook’s range of steamed snacks is also naturally gluten-free, low GI, high fiber, and in many cases rich in protein. The current range includes Steamed Sweet corn on the cob, Sweet corn kernels which come with 4 optional flavorings, steamed chickpeas, steamed peanuts with flavoring options.  
  • For the consumers in the kitchen: Today’s range of steamed ingredients offers consumers the ultimate cooking convenience without any compromise of health, taste, or pride (of cooking).
  • For the retailers: The ambient storage with a one-year shelf life becomes easy to store and retail.
  • For the farmers: Everything that is packed for consumers is grown exclusively for YCook in partnership with their farmers and hence they offer traceability to consumers as well. Their farmers are also trained and comply with the Global GAP ensuring the product is pesticide residue-free. The farmers have a full marketplace for their products along with assured buyback at pre-fixed prices.

The Germination

A business, in whatever sectors it may be needs to face some initial challenges that make it ready for the future. YCook also had some obstacles in their path of growth with which they dealt very well and created a unique place in the market.

By the time they finished the project with the Technopreneur grant they were ready with recipes for more than 30 products, their initial challenge was to prioritize that to do a phased launch. The company took the route of working with multichain modern trade one chain by a chain instead of a city by city approach. That gave them good momentum.

The time they cracked the transparent pouches with consistency in quality, they were picked immediately by modern trade stores and consumers started picking the products and growth was more organic. The company’s first investors, Omnivore partners, had given them the much-needed push not only in terms of investment, but also in terms of encouragement to push their presence into the international market with all stringent quality norms and certification, and helped them stay grounded and create a socially responsible organization.

YCook – Creating Healthy Paths for National Growth

YCook Services

There was a latent consumer need for truly healthy and on-the-go snack/ingredient, Tadaa’s range of products addressed that gap. Their continuous R&D on bettering their products has also helped YCook to be one of the leading food brands.

YCook’s Plethora of mouth-watering steamed snack products

Team YCook feels very happy to be the pioneers of the steamed snack revolution in India. It is a revolution in the snack space with their Steamed Snack range.

YCook’s all products are:

  • Fully Natural – The company has chosen to work with full grains like peanuts, chickpeas, etc wherein all of nature’s goodness is intact
  • Naturally steamed – Their technology allows us to steam the products and make them free of any microbes and hence have the much needed nutritious and wholesome snack.
  • No preservatives needed – All of Ycook’s products are just natural, with no nasties what so ever.
  • State of the art technology – Company’s differentiated retort process allows them to steam and pack without the need for any preservatives.
  • Convenience and on-the-go – Ambient storage product. You can now carry a pack of steamed peanuts and enjoy the nourishment anytime you need.

YCook has just launched the steamed sprouts filled with natural goodness and loads of phytonutrients and antioxidants. They have started exporting steamed jackfruit for certain countries, a superfood known for its anti-diabetic effects; also they would be launching an entire array of steamed ingredients for the kitchen convenience.

Now your nourishing home-made meal is only a pan and a couple of minutes away.

Gayathri Swahar – A leader, powered with a passion for innovation

Gayathri is an observant marketing professional very grounded in consumer needs. She is the passionate architect of the brand and is a lover of the company and its products. In the spare time, she loves cooking and is an avid foodie herself. To her, cooking is love made visible.

Before her entrepreneurial journey, she worked in the area of consumer behavior, guiding companies to build brands in her various leadership roles at Nielsen, including leading the Consumer Neuroscience practice of Nielsen in India. Even in the corporate roles, she was lucky to have been exposed to many intrapreneurial roles and also have the opportunity to create a patentable product.

She says, “I believe that businesses and their leaders should focus on staying positive and motivated. Situations around can be disheartening, there can come times when you feel you are in a sinking ship, but when the going gets tough, only the Tough can get going.

Next is to keep abreast with the pulse of the consumer, consumers are rethinking their habits in terms of food, in terms of their basket (what to buy), in terms of their mindsets, etc. It is important to have your products in sync with the current needs.”

The healthy work environment at YCook

The “good food for all” vision runs through the organization. In every way, each employee helps them to realize that vision. Every YCook member is encouraged to create their own “Tadaa” Moments; one small betterment every day across the organization is what makes YCook unique.

Gayathri’s Take on woman entrepreneurship

Confidence along with awareness of the opportunities open to girls/women needs to be instilled young, starting with the school curriculum and making way up to college. In most cases, the social cost thrust on women becoming an ‘entrepreneur’ restricts them and forces them to stay a ‘wantapreneur’. Strongly believe that there is a need to rethink our school curriculum in the direction.

She says the following trio helped her lot to be a successful entrepreneur

  • Ending each day recounting what you have achieved in that day and the things you need to be thankful for.
  • Surround yourself with a good support system so you are not at a loss on the day you need say childcare support.
  • Finding something that will energize you helps to create more energy. Invest in yourself (health, upskilling, hobbies, etc) for this is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

The Key Achievements

  • President of India Award for the Top 3 Food startups in India, during the World Food India 2017
  • Listed among the Top 20 most innovative food companies in the world by AgFunder, only one from Asia.
  • Sankalp Award for Impact in Agriculture space – Sankalp Global Summit 2018
  • “Most Inspiring Agri Startup” 2018 – FICCI
  • Best 10 Food and Confectionary Companies 2018 – CEO Insights
  • Business Leader of the Year 2018 – Best Agro-food Brand of the Year
  • Health Brand of the Year – Food – India Health and Wellness Summit and Awards 2017
  • Star award – MSME award for Innovation Excellence – FKCCI – 2017
  • Finalist – Best Innovation Food – Gulfood2016
yCook 3

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