Avni Kaul’s interest in fitness and nutrition goes back to her school years when she was fascinated by the recipe section in fitness magazines.
After completing a master’s course in food and nutrition from Delhi University and gaining exposure in a multinational firm for a few years, she decided to take her passion a step further by launching Nutri Activania. The wellness startup aims to help people “break free from the diet mindset” and discover “nutrition for an active life”.
As a nutritionist-entrepreneur, Avni believes the ultimate goal is to help increase productivity and efficiency, and ensure a quality lifestyle. She emphasises that following a diet does not mean starvation or giving up on one’s friend circle and social life, as seems to be the popular belief.
Finding the right balance when it comes to eating, drinking, and sleep can help better manage stress and mental wellbeing.
“I wanted to spread awareness that so much more than weight can be treated with a change in your diet, lifestyle, eating clean, restricting consumption of processed foods, and exercise. This includes management of chronic medical conditions,” says Avni, who is also a certified diabetes educator from Project Hope and the International Diabetes Federation.
She was also diet advisor to the Indian contingent during the preparatory session for the Buenos Aires Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The Delhi-based entrepreneur is now tapping into India’s wellness market, estimated at Rs 490 billion with wellness services alone comprising 40 percent, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Starting a new journey
After registering Nutri Activania as a company in 2016, Avni started engaging with people on social media sites like Facebook. She offered client consultations at their homes or coffee shops before setting up her clinic in February 2018.
Her consultations take into account a client’s body composition analysis, including height and weight measurements, fat and muscle mass, and metabolic age, stress levels, water intake, family history of medical conditions, food allergies, and blood reports. Avni draws out a diet plan after gaining an understanding of the client’s goals, in the short and long term.
The wellness firm currently offers various services, including child nutrition, sports nutrition, diabetes management, gastrointestinal health, pre- and post-natal nutrition, cardiovascular health, and senior citizen diet plans. It also offers a special wedding nutrition plan to help couples look their best throughout wedding rituals and ceremonies.
Avni says, “People visit a nutritionist only during the curative stages after a doctor informs them about being diabetic or high levels of cholesterol. However, one can focus on preventive wellbeing by connecting with a nutritionist. Even if certain diabetic conditions are genetic, maintaining a healthy diet can delay the onset.”
The nutritionist caters to clients from different walks of life and age groups. Plans are based on a client’s requirements, but Avni asks them to commit for at least three months to see change.
Nutri Activania witnessed increased engagement amid the COVID-19 pandemic with more discussions around eating habits in prolonged social distancing, especially on eating disorders due to stress and anxiety. In these times, consultations and engagement have gone the digital way.
Avni, who launched her company with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh, says it grew by 35 percent in FY19 and clocked an annual revenue of Rs 1 crore.
Entrepreneurship is a 24X7 engagement, and Avni donned various hats during the course of her journey. She was the accountant, secretary, housekeeper, and consultant as she set about creating a personal brand. She considers herself lucky for not facing any gender bias, and getting the support and backing of family and friends.
As the number of clients grew, she started building an all-women team of four, who hail from “humble and modest backgrounds but are driven and have fire in their belly”.
“Women have a tendency to question themselves and I want the firm to be an opportunity that gives a sense of identity. With most organisations being male-dominated, a lot of women feel comfortable when there are other women around,” Avni says.
She says many are fighting societal norms in their own way by coming to work, even when family members suggest they take care of household work and let the men earn. “They inspire me to keep going,” Avni says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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