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Designer lunchbox maker eyes share in global pie
A Chennai-based startup has come up with a smart lunchbox, that aims to address the issues of heat retention and freshness in a novel manner. The company Vaya Life (P) Ltd is the brainchild of a former executive from Apple, who took this initiative as his plunge into entrepreneurship.
Vashist Vasanthakumar, CEO of the firm says, “During my four-year stint in Apple, I developed an appreciation for well-designed and well-engineered consumer products. I knew I had to come back to India and contribute to society here.”
Talking about the inception of Vaya Tyffyn, the flagship product, the founder says, “You carry only a few products with you everywhere – watches, wallets, laptops, etc. Many of them evolved, getting better with time. However, a few have stayed the same and the lunchbox is one of them. So, I built a team to reinvent this product, raising about $8 million from friends, family and personal savings to kick-start the company.”
On the USP of the product, Vashist says, “Design-wise, it’s the thinnest lunchbox in the market that carries that max food (in the size to capacity ratio). Being leak proof, it can fit in a laptop bag. The aesthetic also lends itself to a fashion statement, something customers can take pride in owning. Engineering-wise, we worked on making the lunchbox the best in retaining heat (or cold) and freshness. In India, where we are so used to carrying hot food for lunch, aspects such as heat and aroma are important to the overall lunch experience.”
Vashist adds, “I am not trying to make the Louis Vuitton of lunchboxes. The effort has always been to keep it as affordable as possible and within in the reach of middle-income and upper-middle income users. The lunchboxes are priced between Rs 2,300-Rs 2990.”
Currently the firm is relying heavily on social media and digital marketing and has built a base of food bloggers to help push the product. Vashist explains, “We want to promote home cooked food and we are going to engage non-digital marketing and advertisements to drive retail sales. Currently, we are present in Chennai and Hyderabad, but will soon expand to Bengaluru. We are targeting 50 to 60 outlets by May in the three cities.”
The firm is marketing heavily in overseas regions as well. “Our sales volumes have grown more in the global arena than in India. We are selling aggressively in Singapore, Malaysia, parts of South-east Asia and we just launched it in the US. In April, we expect to sell 10,000 to 12,000 units. We have about six outlets in Chennai, 2 in Hyderabad and 1 in Kochi. We will take this number to 60 this month by tying up with new distributors,” he signs off.