There’s always a mere light of hope which keeps you going even in the hardest of times. We already have tonnes of startup stories which made the impossibilities possible, from scratch to the high-end and garages to the towers.
The Bangalore based couple invested Rs 8 lakh to launch Swa Juicery in 2015 and Swa Artisanal Syrups in 2019. So far, the company has taken care of more than 10,000 orders and made Rs 4 crore revenue.
Vaishali Mehta, 38 years old, grew up in a joint family where her cousins and relatives were all together. She was born and brought up in a low-middle-class Gujarti household, where her cousins’ sisters, who had nothing to aspire to, got married at the age of 21. The family was settled in Kolkata.
Sumir Mehta, meanwhile, was raised in the city of Raipur, Chhattisgarh; who is also the co-founder of swa has a degree in engineering from NIT Surat and more than 15 years of experience working in technology, operations, and business processes at Oracle. After doing some freelance work for Swa, he officially joined the team in 2022.
Vishali, from her childhood, had a great interest in business, which is “typical Gujarati thingy.” Vaishali knew that education was the only option to pave the way to her dream. She has done her graduation at St. Xavier’s, Kolkata. Vaishali used to work as a freelancer in ad agencies during her graduation to ensure her financial viability.
After graduation, she moved to Pune to pursue her MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication
and later landed in Bangalore in search of a job. It was the time the recession hit hard, and it wasn’t easy for her to survive during that financially stumbling time.
As Vishali says “I felt Bangalore like home, it was so welcoming.” Since Bangalore was treating her better than other cities could, and also she has met the love of her life, Sumir Mehta and they got married in the year 2010.
Later, the couple moved to New York, as Sumir got a job, and Vaishali joined as an intern in a company since Indian degrees were not widely acceptable. Since their dream was not like not like typical midtown people had, they have always wanted to do something out of the box, but not only for monetary benefits, but for the heart and society.
Since they have understood that New York is not the place they belong, they didn’t have a second thought to come back to India.
The Rise of Swa
“When we returned from New York, we discovered that, despite the abundance of fresh produce and other natural ingredients available in this country, artificial, preservative-laden concentrates were still being sold. There was nothing like the fresh fruits, food, and juices that we tasted in New York. The idea, as Sumir explains, was to create something similar in this location.” Sumir says
“Swa Artisanal Syrups was established to address this void. Each bottle of our all-natural syrup is made by women and takes several days to complete. It took us two years of R&D and countless recipe experiments to introduce the products that we have. ” Vaishali adds.
Vaishali launched the company officially in 2015 as a cold-pressed juicery. Sumir would take the leap five years later, leaving his IT job to join her at Swa.
Sumir explains, “At Swa, we utilise nothing but authentic Indian fruits, herbs, and spices. As much as possible, we avoid using any form of artificial flavouring or preservatives. There are sixteen different flavours offered to consumers, including Jamun Kala Khatta, Guava Chilli, Orange Mint, Hibiscus Tea, Lemon Ginger Nariyal Paani, Mango Passionfruit, Jackfruit Cascara, and Cocoa Mint.”
Satisfied “Swa” Clients
The startup, Swa, has quickly built up an impressive list of clients, including Baskin Robbins, Chai Point, Living Food Co, Blue Tokai, Third Wave Coffee Roasters, Carnatic Cafe Delhi, Antares Goa, Jamun Goa, Toit, Haashi Hyderabad, Uru Brewery, Coffee First, Goldman Sachs, and others.
Third Wave Coffee Roasters co-founder Anirudh Sharma says, “We’ve been working with Swa for almost three years, and I have to say that the product and the crew have been a great source of pride and happiness for our company.” The syrups really make the drink pop, and their all-natural quality takes it to the next level. Swa makes ordinary things extraordinary, even iced tea. “
He continued, “I have had the opportunity to work very closely with Vaishali to create wacky mixtures and syrups that match coffee or something else I want to serve at Third Wave. Customers rave about our Swa-infused drinks. Swa’s selection is unlike that of any competitor. “
When deciding how to sell their product, Sumir says, “We looked at filling a gap that existed in the market” rather than trying to “force fit” it.”
“Mix one part syrup with six parts water or soda to make the perfect glass of drink, then top with ice and serve. You can do it in one simple step. “We take care of everything,” Sumir promises.
Swa products have a six-month shelf life, cost Rs 300 for a 250-ml bottle, and are available from a variety of online and offline retailers.
The company has a programme called “skill upliftment” that hires and trains women from poor areas. This gives them a chance to get out of poverty and, in some cases, start professional careers.
The Founder’s Morality
Vaishali says that the hard times she has been through have only made her more determined to be a successful business owner.
“I have gained invaluable insight into my own mistakes. Unfortunately, after joining a startup in Bengaluru, I made the mistake of telling my coworkers about my pregnancy. They started treating me differently, and then I was laid off when I was seven months pregnant,” she says.
In spite of feeling humiliated and angry, Vaishali has chosen to channel those feelings into establishing a successful business. I swore then that no woman or person would ever be made to feel the way I did. “This is the inspiration,” Vaishali persists.