Launched in May 2020, Cora Health is a health and wellness marketplace startup, founded by former Flipkart colleagues Snigdha Kumar and Shrijit Venkatesh. It is a 100X.VC portfolio company that offers an e-commerce platform that helps users get access to healthy food alternatives based on their medical condition.
The Bengaluru-based health and wellness marketplace startup has also raised an undisclosed amount of funding in June 2021. The round was led by angels in their personal capacity including Apurva Parekh (Executive Director, Pidilite Industries Limited), KRS Jamwal (Executive Director, Tata Industries), along with Dhanpal Jhaveri (Vice Chairman, Everstone Group), Amit Chaudhary (Lenskart Founder), Kushagra Pant (Nomura MD), Neha Saraf (Visa Director), Anusuya Roy (Flipkart Director), Ajay Mian (Founder and CEO, All e Technologies), and Headstart Investor Circle.
Cora Health was launched with an initial investment of Rs 20 lakh. The company raised its first cheque from 100X.VC as part of the fund’s Class 03 portfolio. Working with more than 10 courier partners to serve over 27,000 pin codes across India, it is clocking 200 percent month-on-month growth and targeting a revenue of Rs 100 crore ARR by the end of 2022.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
What is Cora Health all about?
Cora is a one stop shop for health and nutrition products. We help our customers choose the right product based on their health goals and diet preferences. We curate high quality nutrition products from the best & biggest brands from across India. We are currently live with our guided commerce platform where we have organised products and related content around health goals. We offer free of cost chat support with our in-house experts to guide customers to make the right purchase decision. This will soon take the shape of a virtual assistant – alexa for nutrition which helps answer queries on food & nutrition with full context of individuals health condition, preference, age and 10 other factors.
This month we are going live with our online community where people can interact with an extended network of health experts. Community is uplifting and is best means to collate all the expertise and make it available to customers.
What factors influenced or motivated you to start this venture? What seeded the idea of a startup in-health and wellness sector?
Cora was born out of our personal struggle to manage health conditions through lifestyle modification. We had tried different solutions available in the market which left us wanting for more – a simple yet personalised solution to discover food products that could help with our individual health conditions. As consumers ourselves, we had developed deep insights into the customer journey and pain points over the years. Given our work experience in Flipkart we also could see exactly where the gaps were, and we were in a keen position to use our existing relationships to gain a foothold quickly.
What were the first few steps during and after the launch of Cora Health?
We launched our company last year during the first lockdown, and we did multiple pilots all in the same space to finalise on this GTM and customer approach. During the launch, the first steps we took was finalising our target customer, understanding their pain points and what products would be useful to them then reaching out to the required brands for onboarding them at Cora. We cross-checked all ingredient information and focused heavily on cataloging to enable easier search options and we were live!
Post launch, we formulated content marketing and performance marketing campaigns to let the world know we were here! We eagerly awaited our first orders, and they stay with us till today.
Have you raised funds so far?
We’ve been fortunate to have early backers and mentors. We’ve raised a pre-seed round with industry stalwarts like Sanjay Mehta (100x.vc), Headstart Investor Circle and in their personal capacities KRS Jamwal (ED- Tata Sons), Apurva Parekh (MD – Pidilite Group), Dhanpal Jhaveri (MD – Everstone Capital) and Amit Chaudhary (Founder, Lenskart).
Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going?
This is something which is personally close to me and I would be the ideal customer for Cora. The everyday struggles I face have always pushed me to solve this for not just me but millions of others struggling with their health and food habits on a daily level. People like me are looking to understand their relationship with food better and need guidance, and this is what keeps me going every single day.
How has your journey been so far?
This journey has been rich, rewarding and a complete roller-coaster, which I’m pretty sure you would hear from any startup founder too 🙂 All founders are supremely passionate, like me about the problem they’re solving and hustle day in and out to make it a reality.
How big is your team? How did you manage your team and business during COVID-19 outbreak?
We’re a 15 member+ team. We actually started in the midst of the pandemic and most of our team was hired over remote calls! Even after starting our office in January, we went under a WFH for roughly 3 months from April till July. Being a small organisation with lesser tools and dynamic processes we had to continuously iterate on what was working for us. Being metric and ownership driven helped us, we gave complete freedom of managing charters to the charter leads with frequent catch ups to help them where they were stuck or where they needed some help with decision making.
What is the USP of your brand? How do you see growth and market response in the near future?
The USP of our brand is making healthy living simple. The most significant “problem” with Health & Nutrition hides in the fact that there is so much noise and clutter out there. There is an abundance of products and information that leaves customers feeling overwhelmed and often makes the everyday health decisions tougher.
Health needs are individualistic. However, most of the product advices is generic and non personalised. Hence people end up using products that don’t suit their needs.
Currently customers gain awareness of trends from the influencers of Instagram and YouTube or experts/coaching, however it is difficult to know which one is suitable and which one is not.
We come and recommend products to customers basis their needs, and aim to be the largest AI powered Food Recommendation engine in the future. With more trends and brands in the foray, customers will seek this out even more.
What role does your brand play in addressing the needs of health-conscious individuals?
I’ll link this to the previous question, since our USP stems from solving a core problem for the customer. Health-conscious customers need personalised recommendations to achieve their health goals. They want to eat healthier, sometimes adopting trends which might not work for them as well. We simplify their journey to healthy living.
Various research studies show that COVID-19 pandemic has transformed consumer eating habits. Do you think we will continue to witness the evolving eating habits in the post-COVID world?
COVID has accelerated adoption of healthy eating and online shopping. This is great news for tons of D2C digital first brands who now have the option of being available for customers across the country. Consumer education has moved forward leaps and bounds making it easier for all platforms like ours. This trend is here to stay.
Being a startup, what do you think is the biggest challenge in India? Please share your views on how the Indian Government is doing on supporting startups.
Being a startup in India comes with a shelf full of paperwork, we still do not have digitisation in a lot of fillings and other activities that are done. This has seen improvement but there’s still a long way to go.
What are your future plans on staying ahead in the competition? Where do you see Cora Health in the coming 3 to 5 years?
Considering that healthy eating is often the stepping stone to healthy living, we see Cora taking a more central role in being an everyday health partner. Build an ecosystem where experts (Nutritionist) will get a means to build their profile, reach the right audience and have meaningful engagement with them. Experts are crucial as they bring deep experience about nutrition and fitness. We want to leverage them to provide guidance to millions of people looking to elevate their health.
We aim to use AI/Ml to build a recommendation engine to drive personalisation at scale. Health is an extremely individualistic subject and generic tips are meaningless. Our recommendation engine will be a gamechanger in the sense that it would understand customer personas (their preferences and need) to suggest products/tips that are apt for them. Doing this effectively at a scale of million customers will be a great feat to achieve and hopefully we get to reach there.
Awards and achievements, if any?
Part of 30 women leaders selected for AWE (Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs) by HSBC and Startup India
What are your messages or leadership lessons for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?
Follow first principle, and always be curious. Believe in yourself and never fall in love with a single concept which will keep you curious always.
Hope this interview will motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series. We are on a mission to bring forward the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.
Please visit and share the below link with your network of Startup Founders and we would love to publish their success story for our readers across the globe.
You can also get in touch with us directly via email!