Raising The Bar

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Raising The Bar

                                                                       by Subhojit

Would you prefer to swim against the current, when you have the option to float along with its natural flow? I guess most of us would opt for the latter. Mr. Abhishek Mahananda, the young Bhubaneswar-based entrepreneur and Managing Director of Union Foods Pvt. Ltd., clearly prefers the former. He quit his plum job to pursue his entrepreneurial dream instead of opting to join his family business. Eventually, he set up his company, which is now a leading food and beverage company in Odisha. In 2015, he launched his most ambitious project in the form of ‘Blue Voda’, a packaged drinking water brand with a natural composition of water that is beneficial to health and absolutely safe to drink. But what was most impressive about this launch was his gumption to position Blue Voda against premium national players, instead of catering to the local market only with price as the primary lever. “We launched it to cater to the increased packaged drinking water demands of customers. From inception, Blue Voda has been dubbed the best among equals. The success story of Blue Voda would have been incomplete without the support of the company’s directors Vivek, Pooja, Tuhina and all our team members,” Abhishek said. Reminis cing the i n it ial turbulent days, Abhishek says “despite the challenges, the vision to emerge as the leading national player in the bottled water industry kept the team going. The belief that the customers come first and not the company. The price that our customers pay and the quality that they receive should be at par with any world class brand.” Unlike common practice this brand has adopted a unique approach of promoting and sponsoring tournaments that feature lesser-known or neglected sports of Odisha. “Apart from being the official water partner of National Billiards & Snookers Championship‘17, Pune, we have also sponsored the Snooker players of Odisha for this prestigious championship. When former World Champion Shri Ashok Shandilya walked up to our team to thank them for our support to the Championship, it was not just a compliment for our brand but also for the business community of Odisha.” Shared Abhishek. The other driving force behind Union Foods & Blue Voda, Mr. Vivek Penmetsa shares, “Although from different backgrounds, Abhishek and I are childhood friends who wanted to start a business venture in the food and beverage segment. That’s how we started off with Blue Voda and came up with a mascot – Blue Voda Man, to gain wide attention.” “We have always wanted to showcase Blue Voda as a premium brand, a packaged drinking water brand from Odisha which

The Blue Voda Man aims to spread the awareness about safe clean drinking water and also inspire every individual to unleash the hero within them&lt differently!

is a part of various national and international events,” Vivek says. We wi tne s s ed anothe r interesting strategic move by the Blue Voda team when they became the associate sponsor for the T-20 World Cup Cricket 2017, for the Blind. “While every brand wants to be associated with Cricket owing to its popularity, there were no takers for this global event for the disabled. Since we were keen to prove that this brand from Odisha has the potential to stand up for a cause on a national platform we grabbed the opportunity. Well, there were also two Odisha players in the national team (Sukhram Majhi & Jaffar Iqbal) for this tournament featuring 10 countries, with Rahul Dravid as the brand ambasaador,” said Abhishek. “Over the years, our company has strived to diversify our brand’s identity which led us partnering India Surf Festival at Konark. The growing popularity of Surfing amongst the youth in Odisha had a lot of synergy with a youthful brand like ours,” said Vivek. On being asked about their growth strategy, Abhishek was quick to answer. “We have outlined an aggressive market expansion, penetration and growth for this fiscal year. Buoyed by the previous year’s growth rate and high customer loyalty, we are now busy setting up distribution and sales channels in other major cities outside Odisha. By the end of 31st March 2018 we plan to make our presence felt in all the four zones of India and we would also foray into other parts of the country, soon.” “Probably the first packaged drinking water brand in India, to have a dedicated mascot the company plans to use the Blue Voda Man to spread the awareness about safe and clean drinking water and also inspire every individual to unleash the hero within them.” Blue Voda stands out as an authentic brand in its category and has the potential to become a truly international and iconic brand. Standing on firmer ground, Abhishek & Vivek are now turning their sight to new products. “We plan to come up with Blue Voda Club Soda, Mixture and Aerated drinks among others very soon. There are few strategic tie-ups in the pipeline for a greater market reach,” said the ambitious Abhishek before signing off. A perfect example of how, when you have the vision and the grit to follow it, you do not need to do too many different things, but just do a few things differently!

Thanks to Abhishek’s great sense of marketing the duo of Abhishek and Vivek have been able to shape this brand since its inception. Their emphasis on systems and processes is sure to take them a long way.
Matrudatta Mishra

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