Meet Sulakshan, the man behind “Ossoro”.
Ossoro is a premium food flavour brand indigenously developed in India and offers the best in taste experience. They offer concentrates of unique and exotic flavours and not the standard vanilla, strawberry or mango. It is a brainchild of Sulakshan Parameswaran, an Ex-Investment Banker who comes from a family that has been into the business of flavours and essence for the past 20 years. We just got lucky to have a chat about his journey with Ossoro so far and here is what we found out!
1. Tell us about why you started your brand?
Sulakshan - After leaving my corporate job, I had started an online bakery, specializing in a variety of cupcakes. This venture drove me to discover the retail potential for unique flavours. Also being a member of the Facebook group – “Home Bakers Guild” and witnessing the kind of engagement and enthusiasm present there, I was convinced that a new paradigm was needed to market and promote exotic, potent and interesting flavours to Home bakers, chefs, cafes and food connoisseurs. These thoughts, ideas and events catalysed our advent into retail flavours.
2. What was the industry like before you began? Do you think there was a significant gap which had to be filled?
Sulakshan - Before we set foot in the retail flavour market, there were some big players offering small-sized flavour packs to Home bakers and homemakers. The gaps that I noticed were in the aesthetics – ie the packaging, labelling and details. Also, the low-priced flavours in the retail market were vastly diluted in strength. There was also a limitation to the variety of flavours available for the consumer. That being said, there were few other brands that were marketing their products selectively to the Home bakers, chefs and baking events. This also helped us understand the potential and scope.
3. What were some of the largest challenges you faced while starting your brand?
Sulakshan - Ossoro was started as an online driven brand (and still is) whose distribution channels and sales were mainly through e-commerce. Some of the challenges we faced were managing and handling shipping across India (our products were shipped within 12 hours).
The plastic ban had us revamp our packaging several times. Online tamper-proof envelopes had to be scrapped. Protective plastic cushion for our glass bottles had to be replaced. Now all Ossoro products use recycled paper as secondary packaging done by local cottage industries.
Awareness – we largely lacked it. We wanted a lot of people to know that there was such a brand in the market with a variety of flavours for every occasion. It was quite a challenge to get people to try our products and get feedback. We had approached chefs, food artisans and Home bakers to try our products, but there was a general reluctance with them to try a different brand that they were not used to.
4. Tell us about your marketing strategies, especially since competition is on the rise and social media plays a vital role in influencing shoppers.
Sulakshan - Instagram has been more effective to us than Facebook in terms of social media marketing. Over the last several months, we have seen a positive and significant growth on Instagram, reaching to the right audience and generate the appeal through Instagram events, giveaways, collaboration and such.
We have partnered and continue to work with numerous chefs, Home bakers, food bloggers now. Each collaboration/association is different. It has also given us the opportunity to work on newer flavours, and also promote their blogs and recipes in a mutually beneficial manner.
We offer gift packs specialized discounts, and even bespoke products to promote Ossoro and the range of flavours. This is also done periodically in offline baking events, workshops and contests across India.
5. How do you think your brand has influenced the home baker industry in India?
Sulakshan - Until Feb 2019, we had little or limited idea of our impact with the Home bakers in India. Ossoro was the title sponsor for "The Great Chennai Bake Show" organised by Homebakers.co.in in Feb 2019, which gave us the opportunity to meet the cake artisans, pastry chefs and renowned Home bakers. Talking to them and interacting with them helped us understand better the impact Ossoro had created since its inception in Nov 2017.
There was an overall positive welcome and acceptance of our products with most of the Home bakers (who had attended the event). There was an aura of awe towards the variety and multitude of flavours offered in the Ossoro range.
Since Feb 2019, we have seen an exponential reach so far and the growing acceptance of Ossoro products amongst Home bakers and chefs characterized by repeat and bulk orders.
6. Tell us about your range of products, and if there are any exciting launches coming up!
Sulakshan - We practically have an essence for every dessert, sweet you can think of. Gajar Ka Halwa, Modak, Shrikhand, Boondi Laddoo and many more. The list extends to even non-Indian dessert items such as custard, salted caramel, tiramisu, plumcake and so on.
At Ossoro, we’re always exploring ideas, and inspiration to create newer and exotic flavours. We are working on a big list of flavours for an end-of-the-year launch. This will expand our product offering to a total of 235 flavours.
7. How easy or difficult it is for bakers to buy your products? Can Bakers living in non-metro cities buy it from any of the online platforms?
Sulakshan - Our products are very accessible – online. We are available on www.Amazon.in, www.ossoro.com, www.Bakewala.com and www.bakerykart.com. We are tied up with three logistic companies and we can ship anywhere in India, beyond the tier 2,3 towns and cities.
Ossoro ships internationally when ordered from www.ossoro.com and www.amazon.com. Soon our products will be available on www.homebakers.co.in
8. What are your thoughts about "The Great Bake Shows" that homebakers.co.in conducts across India?
Sulakshan - The Homebakers.co.in have unified the home bakers across the country in several aspects such as creating a directory of contacts, FAQs, training and accessibility to products and tools related to baking.
Having attended three shows (Chennai, Kochi & Hyderabad) of Homebakers.co.in this year, I can easily say that the consequent show surpasses the previous one. Being a home baker myself, I can personally vouch for the value and importance it gives to each and every home baker who participate in these shows. Every event is coupled with contests, learning sessions taught by experts in the field, which is quite phenomenal.
9. How was your experience of working with HomeBakers.co.in? How did working with us helped you increase the penetration of your brand and products amongst the home bakers?
Sulakshan - This closely ties in with my response in Q5. We did see a significant boost after participating in The Great Chennai Bake Show in Feb 2019. I can easily say, that event put us on the map, even though Ossoro was present since Nov 2017.
Homebakers.co.in helped us meet our customers, helped us connect with experts in the field. This connect and interaction did not just stop with one bake-show. We actively follow and interact with them on social media platforms.
To sum it all up, our association with Homebakers.co.in has been very positive and we have witnessed a very significant reach and acceptance with the home baker community.
10. Is there any special offer on Ossoro products for our home baker readers?
Ofcourse, they can get a 10% discount on Ossoro range of Flavours when they shop on www.Ossoro.com using the promo code “Ossoro10”
That was Sulakshan, the founder of Ossoro baking flavours. It's a truly inspiring story for the entire home baking industry.
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