Babies in the Pink!

Happibo, launched by Harshada Joshi, is ready-to-feed baby food to help mothers give the taste of healthy fruits and vegetables to their growing babies

The Womenz team had an opportunity to interview Harshada Joshi, Founder, Happibo, Bangalore, India and here’s what she shared with us

 

 

Please give some background like your education and life at Happibo

 

I am a master’s in Pharmacy with around 10 years of experience in my field. While I was working, my job was between 9 to 5. But since I started Happibo, its 24*7 engagement, just like my son. Happibo is my second baby and demands equal attention and love as my son does. But then again, just like with my son, I wouldn’t want my life to be any different.



What inspired you to begin with Happibo? How did you coin this interesting name?

 

When I had my son, I had just so many things to do. I was working, I had limited resources at home to help with the baby and I was constantly occupied with something or the other. I realised that mothers around me were going through a very similar experience. My biggest concern was around my child’s food and nutrition. At this young age, babies need special food which not only meets their needs but also helps them develop a healthy eating habit for life. I had all the plans to introduce the right fruits and vegetables to my baby but quite often I simply couldn’t manage much beyond curd rice, doodh roti etc. Existing alternatives in India were limited to powder food only. Having experienced similar products when travelling abroad, I wanted to have something better suited for our Indian culture and palate. Although initially this was just a thought, but with increasing days of me compromising on my child’s food I was compelled to take this step and start Happibo.

 

I realised that a happy baby is the baby who has had a healthy, fulfilling meal. My personal experience taught me that Avyan, my son, was very curious about new food, new tastes. And I noticed how he enjoyed experiencing new tastes. That’s why I wanted to have the word happy in the company’s name. ‘bo’ is just a short for baby. Happy baby – Happibo.






Your initial journey and motivation to scale this far?

 

The initial steps were really hard. Having no background in the food industry, I really didn’t know where to start from. I reached out to a number of industry veterans and there was a clear lack of awareness about clean products. Most people suggested that it’s not doable – you need to add preservatives or make it acidic. Without any luck in India, I started looking abroad for know-how. And then finally I managed to work with one of the best, and perhaps oldest, R&D lab in the world. They had helped similar baby food companies get started in Europe & US.

 

Once the R&D team was in place I started looking around for technical co-founder and found Satya and his wife Bhagavathi. Both of them are food technologists, have worked with some of the biggest companies and are parents themselves. And we struck a good chord immediately – both looked at the concept of happibo and wanted to do it as a way of using their know-how for the greater good of our kids. Even they had never made clean products in their career but were up for the challenge. And from then on it was just a long journey on product development, consumer feedback, going back to the kitchen for recipe changes etc.

 

It took me 2 years to move from idea to putting the product in a store. There were several instances where I thought of giving up. But again the sight of kids eating substandard food was too much to bear and I kept going.





As a woman, did you face any hurdles in your journey so far? If yes, how you faced and conquered them?

 

I won’t say hurdles per se but yes there were occasions when some people felt sorry for the ‘woman’ and suggested I pursue something else in life. But those were just minority of situations.

 

What I found remarkable is how several people offered support to me because I am a mom and doing something for kids. From retailers to doctors to nutritionists – I always found people who believed in the cause and helped me in their own little ways.



How Happibo is different and your plans for the future?

         

Happibo is a ready to feed baby food that helps mothers introduce healthy fruits and vegetables to their babies. There is no company or product out there that is working on this intent. When you open our carrot puree, you taste and experience real carrots. Your child will experience what a carrot tastes like, looks like, and smells like. And this helps develop a natural liking for carrots. On the other hand you take a powder food with carrots and you will find few tiny pieces of dried carrots which offer no carrot taste or experience at all. That’s the real difference that happibo brings to the table.

 

We want to help mothers make the most of every meal or snack for their babies. We offer fruits & vegetables based snacks and meals. We bring great, healthy ingredients like sweet potato into carefully crafted recipes. We take everyone’s favourite pasta and make it healthier by using ragi pasta and beetroot puree. We want every meal and snack to add to the child’s wellbeing.

 

Right now we are working on scaling up our operations. The first focus is on building a world class production facility in India. We have experts from different countries working on it right now. In parallel, we are establishing a robust supply chain that will give us access to great ingredients.

 

There’s a long way to go for happibo – it’s only been 6 months into a 15 year journey!






Tell us about your family? How you manage on both fronts family and Happibo?

 

I have a fairly expanded family on both and my parents as well as my Husbands side and they are scattered all over. My maternal grandfather was a businessman and a very successful at that. He created his success from ‘zero’ and he’s my inspiration. Even my mother was very enterprising. My father is very different – a Mathematics professor who is extremely caring and believes in doing good for the society. So I guess I have taken a little bit from both of them. I want to be enterprising but at the same time I want to make sure what I am doing is meaningful and helps improve our country, our society.

 

Managing happibo and family together isn’t that difficult to be honest. My 4 year old son is actively involved and if is home then I take him with me to meetings, shops etc. When we are in the warehouse he helps me with packing etc. It’s really amazing to see how much he enjoys helping me. Even my husband is very supportive and helps me whenever I am stuck.

 

The only downside that I can think of is that overall its quite intense. As a startup there is so much work that I just don’t know where the weekends go. But I wouldn’t have it any other way either!



What is your biggest achievement so far?

 

It was a Sunday morning and I called one of the moms who I had given a few samples to try. I just wanted to check with her baby liked the product. And the very first she said to me was, “My baby is eating spinach...I can’t believe it!”. That was the first time I got such a feedback. Its moments like those that really give me the satisfaction of doing something meaningful. And I have been lucky to have received many more such feedbacks. The realization that I am able to help a mom in her journey of raising a child is just super satisfying. Moms do so much these days and I am determined to make it a little easier for the moms and a healthier for the babies.



Your message to other women who are struggling to prove themselves

 

No woman should really think that they have to prove themselves. Not at all. They already are doing so much. A woman has so many roles to play – a wife, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a friend, a career woman etc. Just look at the role of a mother. Be it middle of the night, be it in a flight, be it at home – she is doing her best in comforting and caring for her child. It’s not a job that takes a break after certain hours. It’s forever and will continue for the rest of her life.

 

My only advice would be that no woman should doubt herself or worry if she is doing things right. This is true especially for mothers – you are raising your child in the best way possible, period. No need to doubt that or compare with others or worry. Each one of us is unique and we have our own way of doing things. Just enjoy each and every moment of being a mother. Days are longer but years are shorter when it comes to raising a child!

 

We at TheWomenz team express our earnest appreciation for sharing your unique story with us. We believe it will surely stimulate fellow women in every country and continent in the world.


Harshada can be reached on Linked-in, instagram and Facebook




Here is a small video on Happibo





First Published: 28-May-2017- 07:17


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