In the world of entrepreneurship, success often hinges on a combination of passion, experience, and a keen understanding of market needs. For Rounaq Sodhi and Animesh Mishra, the Co-Founders of Knack, their journey into the realm of beverage innovation is driven by a shared commitment to transforming the way people consume beverages in their daily lives. With decades of collective experience in the beverage industry, they embarked on a mission to create a new-age brand that offers not only great taste but also guilt-free, health-conscious choices for consumers.
Rounaq Sodhi, the Founder of Knack, boasts an impressive 17-year career in the beverage sector, having worked with industry giants like Sab Miller, Carlsberg, and Red Bull. His journey began from the very bottom, working his way up the corporate ladder, gaining invaluable insights into sales, marketing, and key account management. This remarkable journey culminated in his decision to become an entrepreneur, driven by a burning desire to create a beverage brand that addressed the evolving preferences of consumers.
Co-Founder Animesh Mishra, with 15 years of experience in renowned companies such as Pepsico, Bacardi, and Walmart, adds a unique blend of expertise to Knack. His background in microbiology and food technology, combined with his passion for developing innovative food and beverage products, perfectly complements Rounaq’s vision for the brand.
The Birth of Knack: A Response to Changing Consumer Behavior
Knack’s inception is rooted in a deeply personal and socially relevant story. The catalyst for the venture was Rounaq’s own family experience. His son’s sensitive throat prompted his family to challenge him to create a beverage that would be safe for children with similar issues. This personal journey, coupled with the changing landscape of consumer preferences, set the stage for Knack’s emergence.
The COVID-19 pandemic further influenced their decision. During the pandemic, herbal concoctions and natural remedies like “kadha” gained popularity for their immune-boosting properties. Rounaq recognized that consumers were becoming increasingly health-conscious, seeking beverages that were both refreshing and nourishing. Inspired by this trend and the success of Indian herbal ingredients in beverages, he took the leap to start Knack.
Knack’s Solution: Quality Beverage for All
At its core, Knack is driven by a commitment to provide a “Quality Beverage for All.” The brand aims to redefine the beverage market by offering clean-label products that deliver the same great taste as traditional drinks but without preservatives and excess sugar. Their tea and herb-based ingredients not only reduce sugar content but also extend shelf life naturally.
Beverages and desserts, often associated with guilty pleasures, are integral to daily life for many. Knack’s innovative approach focuses on making these indulgences both tasty and healthy. By reducing sugar levels from the standard 12% to a more moderate 8%, Knack’s beverages offer a more balanced and refreshing alternative.
The Evolution of Knack: From Concept to Growing Business
Launched in 2023 with just two passionate individuals and no physical office, Knack has rapidly evolved. Their journey began by sampling products at events and gradually expanding into schools. The positive response led to the activation of their products in various sales channels, including schools, cafes, cloud kitchens, restaurants, direct-to-consumer platforms, and premium retail stores like Nature’s Basket.
Knack’s commitment to innovation is evident in their ongoing research and development efforts. With their next-generation beverage category on the horizon, featuring herbal and floral blends, the brand is poised for further growth. They are also focusing on the hydration sector as part of their expansion strategy.
The Market and Impact of Knack:
Knack envisions serving consumers across all age groups, offering guilt-free beverages that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. With 30-40% less sugar than most popular beverages and natural herbal ingredients, Knack’s products appeal to a wide demographic.
The brand’s omni-channel approach encompasses QSRs, hotels, cafes, modern retail, airports, cinemas, schools, and colleges. Knack’s recent introduction of PET bottles has also opened doors to e-commerce channels.
Overcoming Challenges and Adapting to Change:
Every entrepreneurial journey comes with its set of challenges, and Knack is no exception. One major hurdle faced by the brand is logistical issues related to glass bottle distribution across India. Despite these obstacles, Knack remains committed to overcoming logistical challenges and expanding its reach.
While Knack started its journey post-COVID, the pandemic has left a lasting impact on its approach. It reinforced the importance of providing beverages that consumers can consume without reservations about their health. The pandemic also highlighted the significance of e-commerce and cloud kitchens, which have become integral to Knack’s business strategy.
Additionally, the founders recognize the importance of raising funds for growth, and they plan to do so strategically in the future. As a bootstrapped company, they have learned to navigate challenges and grow according to their business plan.
The Future: Changing Lives One Sip at a Time
Knack’s vision is clear—to improve the quality of life by offering better, guilt-free beverage choices that bring joy and purpose to consumers. Their mission is to craft innovative products that fulfill lifestyle needs while becoming the leading brand in the new-age beverage category.
Rounaq Sodhi’s extensive career in the beverage industry, particularly his experience with Red Bull’s entry into India, has equipped him with the knowledge and confidence to create and grow a new brand successfully. The lessons learned along the way have helped identify gaps in the market and inspire the creation of Knack.
In a world where consumers are increasingly health-conscious and discerning about their choices, Knack’s commitment to quality, natural ingredients, and great taste positions it as a transformative force in the beverage industry. With a bright future ahead, Knack is well on its way to changing the way we all sip, savor, and enjoy our beverages.