This mother-daughter duo brings hand-ground spices to your kitchen shelf
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
ORCO, an organic condiments brand offering hand-ground natural, healthy and certified organic condiments and spices was founded in 2017 by mother-daughter duo Pragya and Adhvika Agarwal with two women in a small warehouse in New Delhi.
In the last four years, it has successfully built a community of 100 margnalised women, and the number is steadily growing. Recently, it launched a variety of seedslike Organic Nutmeg, Organic Garlic Granule, Organic Onion Flakes, Organic Natural Sesame Seed, Organic Cinnamon Whole, Organic Black Mustard, Organic Raisins, Organic Ginger Powder, Organic Black Chia Seed, Organic Flax Seed, and Organic Sunflower Seeds etc.
Available in over 100 retail stores across Delhi NCR, ORCO spices are also available through its website and a number of e-commerce platforms. But the journey till here has not been easy. The bootstrapped business that started with a small budget that allowed them to buy equipment, raw material and packaging material, is now looking for some investors to grow further.
While daughter Adhvika takes care of marketing and sales, mother Pragya is involved in R&D, processing and manufacturing of the spices. Workwise the two gel well together. But there are times when they have arguments with clashing opinions and thoughts but eventually things are sorted with each bending a bit.
“The best part of our business is we can be ourselves. We have an understanding of growing together without any ego or manipulation. Both of us come from the same roots and understand each other, though sometimes things can be difficult due to age gap,” smiles Pragya.
From Chakki Masala to ORCO
“While doing my Masters in Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, I worked on an incubation idea for building a tech app. But after returning to India (in 2017) I didn’t find much potential in that idea. But by this time I had a very strong desire to start my own venture,” says Adhvika.|
Meanwhile, Pragya was already running an NGO, Chakki Masala that worked with marginalised women who were roped in for hand-grinding spices, which were then sold in market. Sensing a huge potential in Chakki Masala, Adhvika decided to join her mother.
“We decided to name our venture, and zeroed in on the name ORCO aka organic condiments. But, like with Chakki Masala, here too the focus remained on empowering women – getting high quality products that are 100 per cent organic without any additives was a by-product,” she smiles.
The duo then connected with more needy women. “We wanted to support women from the weaker sections of society, who needed help to stand on their feet, as also a safe environment to work,” says Pragya, adding that many women working with them are victims of domestic harassment, beaten and ill-treated. “It gives us immense satisfaction to see them become financially independent,” she adds.
“My mother, who loves to cook and eat fresh has a strong belief that hand-ground spices lend a better taste to food and are much healthier. The many repeat orders we get are an ample proof that she is not wrong,” says Adhvika.
Challenges were aplenty – from training women, to ensuring hygiene and consistency; from managing the plant and inventory, to marketing and sales. “It has all been very challenging, and still is. We are constantly striving and innovating. For visibility we reached out to many stores in Delhi NCR besides selling through our website across the country. It has been a bumpy ride, but one with many learnings,” says Pragya.
The duo plans to launch innovative organic and clean products as also hire more marginalised women. “We have a vision to open small ORCO plants all across India and have ORCO selling in all the retail stores. We are also exploring on exporting our hand-ground spices and pitching it for the international market as well,” says Adhvika. The duo also plans to launch a range of organic flours as well as handmade chips, pappad, cakes, bakes and drinks etc.