Set-Backs, Success, and Seeds: Meet Guruji, Your New Favourite Snack
When I first arrived at Forward Fooding, we’d just received a batch of Guruji’s sea salt and cacao popped lotus seeds. Trying them for the first time, I was hooked: I couldn’t believe something so delicious, so good for you, and so simple, had only just made it’s way to the Western market. I knew I had to chat to the minds behind this delicious Indian snack that they’d brought to the UK, but I didn’t know I’d learn of a journey so full of ups and downs, cross-continental influence, and above all, fantastic positivity and family. Meet Akhil, Benjamin, and Karan, the minds behind the new lotus seed superfood snack Guruji.
So where did it all start?
Akhil: Me and my brother Karan have a history in the restaurant business; we’d owned and operated them for a number of years, expanding our franchise into Europe.
Karan: However, we wanted to be there for every decision, because we wanted to assure quality at every single step. So, we decided to not just move out of Europe, but move out of the restaurant business altogether. A fresh start.
What was the lightbulb moment when you knew you were on to something big?
Akhil: It wasn’t ever that we discovered lotus seeds; they’re localised in North India, and our mum would bring them for us all the time. We’d been eating them and loving them for as long as I can remember.
Karan: They were our go-to snack, because they were far more natural and healthy than the vast majority of what was on the market. It dawned on us that maybe we weren’t the only people who could enjoy them!
How important is the heritage element?
Karan: We were born here, but we still feel and have a strong connection back to India; that authentic Indian heritage compliments and works with our funky brand really well.
Benjamin: We wanted to make a collaborative product — it’s from the east for the west, with a western taste profile and an eastern name.
Have you had any setbacks?
Akhil: Yes, and it was also one of our proudest moments when it came together.
Benjamin: For our first event, the proverbial ‘launch’ of Guruji as a product you could taste and hold, we got told six weeks prior that there was going to be a delay on our lotus seeds, which would in turn mean we couldn’t start producing them in time. There seemed to be set-back after set-back, but all I can say to others is that the best thing to do is just stay positive.
Karan: We actually hadn’t seen, tried, or tasted any of our products until the actual day of the event; it truly was one of our greatest achievements, made infinitely better by the fact everything tasted great and everyone at the show loved it.
What’s so special about Lotus seeds?
Akhil: They’re a superfood; originating from the root of the lotus flower, they’re 100% natural, they’re vegan, they’re gluten free. The list of health benefits associated with them is massive (check some of them out here), but I think what sets them apart is their versatility.
Karan: We make a cheesy vegan, a smoky thai, a lightly salted, and a cacao flavour. The taste profile can be almost anything, with all of those same benefits still packed inside. They’re just good in every sense!
Where do your seeds come from?
Akhil: We get ours from North India, in the most sustainable. One of our most important values is to ensure that the farmers who pick our seeds are treated really well, and earn what they should for the love they put into growing the seeds.
Benjamin: I think people, more and more, are insisting on practices where their food is sourced, and so it was vital to us to have that transparency and resonate that passion with ensuring proper treatment for our farmers.
Speaking to Guruji, it’s clear that the way they’ve brought their Eastern heritage to a Western audience is an example we want to showcase. If you’re interested in reading our interview with them about how to market an Eastern product for the West, feel free to check it out here.
This interview made up part of our ‘East Meets West’ newsletter, where we spoke to a number of companies who’ve brought their traditional delicacies to a Western audience, and their advice to other start-ups looking to do similar. We provide hand-crafted news and insight from the world of FoodTech; if you want to be put on our mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our community!