Founded in 2022, The Good Bug offers a range of gut health and wellness products that help individuals reverse the adverse effects of poor dietary and lifestyle habits
With a firm commitment to tackling real-world health issues, The Good Bug has secured $3.5 Mn in funding as part of its Series A round from Fireside Ventures
As per a study, seven out of every 10 people in the country suffer from some form of digestive issues. This gives the startup ample room to grow in the probiotics industry that is projected to grow to a market size of INR 770 Cr by 2027
At a time when India is witnessing a big spurt in digestive health issues, especially among individuals between 25 and 60 years of age living in urban areas, the cofounders of The Good Bug, Keshav Biyani and Prabhu Karthikeyan, have decided to tackle the problem with an iron hand.
Founded in 2022, the startup offers a range of gut health and wellness products that help individuals reverse the adverse effects of poor dietary and lifestyle habits.
With a firm commitment to tackling real-world health issues, The Good Bug has secured $3.5 Mn in funding as part of its Series A round from Fireside Ventures.
The fresh capital will be channelled into the development of additional gut health products, market expansion, and the scaling up of recruitment and marketing initiatives.
In a joint statement, the cofounders of the company, Biyani and Karthikeyan, said, “We aim to pioneer and expand the gut health category in India, which has been an unexplored segment… We are excited to have Fireside Ventures as our partner in this journey.”
The cofounders believe that the partnership will enable the brand to leverage Fireside’s expertise and guidance in the D2C arena, thereby giving it an unprecedented boost.
“As consumers are getting more health-conscious and looking for safe and effective solutions with long-term benefits, we see a huge potential in the gut health segment. The Good Bug is at the forefront of this segment with its innovative and effective products. We are thrilled to partner with the team as they continue to pursue their vision,” said the principal at Fireside Ventures Ankur Khaitan.
Notably, the startup competes with the likes of The Good Stuff, Wellbeing Nutrition, HealthKart, among others across various categories. However, what stands out in The Good Bug’s case is its cofounders’ laser focus on gut health, which, as per their new investors, makes them the disruptors of the segment.
What’s In The Genesis Of The Good Bug
After being diagnosed with a chronic digestive disorder three years ago, Biyani tried every recipe in the book to recover but to no avail.
However, he is not alone in this. With poor dietary and lifestyle habits on the rise, India is witnessing a surge in digestive health issues among urban Indians. As per a survey conducted by the Indian Dietetic Association, seven out of every 10 people in the country suffer from some form of digestive issues.
But then, as luck would have it, Biyani met Karthikeyan when Athena Lifesciences was transitioning to merge with Future Group in 2018. At the time, Karthikeyan was the cofounder and managing director of the wellness company (Athena), while Biyani was building the consumer arm of the group.
Eventually, when the pandemic locked down Indians, the duo discussed the idea of building a business together and what struck them was to take a dive into the area of microbiome science. After much back and forth, the idea of gut health and wellness-focussed brand The Good Bug finally took shape late last year.
Now, the omnichannel brand aims to disrupt the health and wellness market by building scientifically-backed and user-friendly solutions to address chronic gut-related health problems.
“We chose the gut health space because it is the centre of overall health and well-being and is also known as the second brain. At The Good Bug, we have been trying to go really deep into the science of the gut microbiome. We believe that if you can fix one’s gut bacteria, you can resolve a lot of health issues,” Biyani told Inc42.
The startup claims to have a strong R&D team and probiotic experts, and claims to have created 15 SKUs spread across four major portfolios — digestive health, women’s health, kids health and metabolic health. The startup’s offerings include daily supplements, powders and sticks that are sold on ecommerce platforms and its website.
Biyani told Inc42 that the company generates 70% of its revenues from its own website and the remaining 30% comes from marketplaces. The D2C brand has recently begun partnering with pharmacies. It now sells at Wellness Forever and Apollo Pharmacy offline stores as well.
Backed by Think9 Consumer Technologies, the 40-employee early stage startup has so far served more than 2 Lakh customers.
He added that the company has been witnessing strong repeat rates in the range of 40-45%, however, refrained from disclosing the revenues churned by the company so far. Meanwhile, the startup is also focussed on building a strong supply chain infrastructure.
Speaking with Inc42, Biyani said that they import bacterial cultures used in its products from countries such as Italy and France to formulate solutions. After the sourcing is done, the company manufactures the products at its vendor’s factory in Ahmedabad, which it says is adept at handling sensitive cultures and good bacteria. The startup has also partnered with multiple vendors to offset any challenges related to supply.
Going forward, the D2C brand plans to roll out 20 additional new products in the next six to twelve months. As of now, it is experimenting with fermented foods and beverages to eventually venture into the space.
The Way Forward
Forging ahead, the startup aims to generate revenues to the tune of INR 500 Cr to INR 600 Cr in the next 4-5 years. Elaborating on his plans, Biyani said that the startup will remain focussed on deepening its market presence and expanding its product lineup in the short to medium term. However, in the long run, The Good Bug plans to expand beyond India and explore more geographies.
Biyani added that the startup is interested in markets such as the Middle East, Australia and the US.
On the question of how it intends to compete with its peers, Biyani said, “Competition will always be there. As long as we continue to innovate, drive strong product fundamentals and build great campaigns on the marketing side, I think we will be able to win.”
While the probiotics space in India continues to grow heavily, the ecosystem could face headwinds from any push by the government to regulate the space. In addition, competition from deep-pocketed players could grill new and emerging players in the probiotics industry, which is still in its infancy in the country.
Despite this, the Indian probiotics industry appears well-poised to leverage the growing consumer demand for newer alternatives and gut health-based products. As per a report, the space is projected to grow to a market size of INR 770 Cr by 2027 from INR 260 Cr in 2021.