How this 27-year old CA is selling A2 cows milk using technology-based doorstep delivery service & now rakes in USD 1M in turnover

  • My name is, Sumit Goyal, I am a Chartered Accountant and entrepreneur from India.
  • I was born and raised in a small village of Rajasthan (India) and 10 years ago, I made the big move to Mumbai in order to pursue CA. 
  • After qualifying as a CA in 2013, I decided to take a leap as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, my first attempt at being an entrepreneur failed, leaving me shattered. 
  • In 2017, I along with my co-founders came up with the idea of DearCows - a youth social venture creating accessibility of Desi Cow Milk from indigenous local cow breeds cared for by Gwala (cowherd) communities through a technology-based doorstep delivery service.
  • Today we have a turnover of INR 5.59 crore (almost USD 1 million) and Mumbaikars can avail of the service by downloading DearCows mobile application.

Back story

After passing 10th grade from Rajasthan Hindi medium board, I wanted to become an engineer. However, due to limited resources, I almost dropped the idea when one of my friend’s father showed his support to help me financially.

Fast forward, I realized that I was never good at science but excelled at mathematics.

So, in the 11th grade, I took commerce and had come to terms that I would not become an engineer.

I had no mentor to guide me but my older brother was pursuing CA at that time, which encouraged me to opt for CA as well.

After the 12th grade, I enrolled for the CA course from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and moved from my village to Mumbai for better opportunities, and here started my CA journey!

Quitting my job early on to be an entrepreneur & facing failure

Post qualifying as a CA, I joined one of the family offices as a business manager only to realize within the first 8 months, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

One day while having a conversation with one of my seniors I started wondering about the next phase of my life. He helped me to do a self-assessment and advised me to pursue something innovative, to start dreaming bigger than just a 9 am to 5 pm salary job. But I had no business idea just a desire to be an entrepreneur.

As a young CA, I needed guidance so I connected to a well-known person from my village who recommended me to get in touch with someone, and this person became an incredibly special turning point in my life - I finally found a mentor!

I soon quit my job and started my entrepreneurial journey with a textile start-up between India and Sri Lanka. Although we were extremely excited with a lot of energy, the venture failed. This left me shattered.

My mentor continued to give me a lot of support and regular directions. This failure shaped me, it gave me a lot of strength, lessons, opportunities and finally, it made me realize the value of the following quote, “Failure gives you the direction of success”.

The bounce-back started; a new journey was loading.

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A new journey began…Dear Cows

I started exploring the big question of “What is next?” and found two missions that called to me.

The core of these missions was "Food is the best medicine" and the quality of life depends on the quality of food intake.

It dawned on me that milk is a commodity most of us consume throughout our lives, from babies to adults.

At the time regular news broadcasts were circulating about the rampant adulteration and consumers were decreasing their milk consumption due to increased fears.

I went into research mode, I wanted to understand the different Indian cow breeds. I needed to understand the legacy ecosystem which has reigned since the Vedic times as well as the health benefits which are getting lost with changing times.

My mission was clear, so I met up with Sarvesh Pande and Prachi Bansal. (Back then Sarvesh Pande was into a health foods venture and Prachi Bansal had completed her education in Italy.)

After a few conversations, a lot of positive energy, and a mutual enthusiasm for the mission and vision, DearCows was born in 2017.

Intuitively we knew this was something we had to make a reality, not only for us but also to ensure that future generations would have access to quality Desi Gir Cow A2 milk.

Building the business

Before we could start, we needed funding which was provided by a small investment from the co-founding team. As a young team, we made sure to value every dime and invest it well in each activity.

After we had the idea and funding for DearCows, we needed to move to the planning and execution phase. We could only do this move in phases by getting core team members in place, as they act as a major catalyst.

Being a CA, I was clear that we must have a sustainable business model from day one so the first few days went into understanding core problems and building a sustainable business model.

While assessing the Indian cow breed ecosystem, we found a coherence with the cowherd traditional community, Gwala, who has generational experience in cow care.

We invested our time in understanding the cowherd community dynamics as well as relationship building. Traveling to rural areas allowed us to see the world.

A series of backend planning was done to ensure that the fundamental elements were in place, this included the product, mission-centric community development plan, efficient supply chain, and a magical community care experience.

Once these aspects were in place, we launched the delivery services in September 2017.

An interesting decision we made when we started was registering the brand as a trusted brand under “One Cow One Family Foundation” rather than a commercial brand. A fundamental part of the foundation is that for a liter of DearCows milk sold, Re. 1 goes towards the foundation.

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Growing the business & challenges faced

Having a daily delivery model means the challenges are endless. 

As our operations grew, the payment model of “payment after delivery” resulted in us drowning with payment follow-ups.

It started feeling like we were a recovery business and not in the business of selling and distributing milk. This made us revisit our business model to ensure a better structure for efficient cash flow.

After a few months, we launched a mobile app to minimize human intervention and shifted from a post-paid to prepaid model.

We have focused on a technology-based customer-centric model that helps us track every step and improve wherever it is required. Every subscriber has been fundamental in growing this community.

Milk being perishable, storage has been an everyday challenge. We have been working on creating a tracking supply chain model that would ensure the morning deliveries happen on time and under the required temperatures.

We approach each day with new energy to continue building a bigger and stronger community. A strong foundation takes time to build, but it lasts for years to come.

For the financial year-end 2019-2020, we had a turnover of Rs. 5.59 crore and there has been no turning back.

Future plans

The pandemic took us by surprise, the past few months have been all about overcoming severe challenges to create a more robust model.

We are now in the next phase and are expanding to other cities. Our main aim is to support the Gwala community wherever it’s required.

In fact, we recently launched a venture that is focused on healthy food products like Desi (A2) Cow Ghee, Rock Salt, Lakadong (High Curcumin turmeric), Moringa Powder, Apple Cider Vinegar, etc.

Our mentor/investor partner has been a strong support system pushing us towards new horizons each day. Our gratitude goes out to every stakeholder and team member who stood together in support of delivering our daily promise.

Wrapping Up….

At the beginning of my journey, people started asking me what the purpose was of having completed my CA if I am selling milk now....but I continued with my mission.

The social fabric of Indian society works on certain standards and breaking stereotypes is something I love doing.

Each time you break a stereotype, it gives rise to a revolution, a new mindset, and a belief that something of this sort is possible. People doubt it till they see it becoming a reality.

My advice is Entrepreneurship is not only about the idea, but also the will to execute your idea, that is what makes you an entrepreneur. In the execution, you always need to be ready to face new types of critical challenges.

 

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