In India, most people are aware of the nutrient difference between processed dairy products and the raw/fresh ones. But the lack of accessibility to raw dairy products in urban area forces many to compromise with the nutrient-deficient processed products. For Aalekh Agarwal, who has always believed in taking initiative to make things better, this was something he felt he should change.
For Aalekh, who is from IT background, agriculture science was a completely alien experience. But his resolve to provide people with better, more nutritious dairy food items helped him overcome every obstacle that came his way and enabled him to keep moving forward.
Today, as a result of his relentless efforts, his startup Cowboys is growing rapidly in Delhi NCR area, and has plans to add more products in their product line in near future.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Cowboys was incorporated in 2015 with the aim to directly provide fresh and healthy farm products in Delhi N.C.R. area. We provide pure, undiluted milk untouched by human hands, chemical-free fruits and vegetables, organic honey, ghee, oil and spices. Our offerings are grown in-house and not collected from different unknown sources. Our farm is amongst the biggest modern agricultural farms in India, with an array of activities including dairy, cattle-breeding, greenhouse cultivation, cash crops, green fodder, natural manure/vermicompost, floriculture, horticulture, pond-culture and more.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
I had been living with the misconception that I was lactose intolerant until I went to London and discovered it was the quality of milk in India that was the real problem. After some research, I found that the milk that we get in packets is a mix of buffalo milk, cow milk and goat milk- all mixed to maintain the minimum fat standard. This is an extremely unhealthy way of consuming milk. Similar is the story of most vegetables and fruits in our markets that are grown with copious amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. That’s when I decided to bring about a change by stepping into the farmer’s shoes.
What is your life mantra?
I live my life simply by staying connected to my roots. Farming is very dear to me for it’s a medium for us to provide fresh, authentic, good quality produce for a rich, sumptuous meal. Each day brings a new desire to provide better than the best. It is very humbling to know that we are doing our small bit to make a difference in people’s lives towards a healthier living.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
I belong to a background of IT related product business, and have done my Masters in the same. Hence, I was a layman when it came to agricultural science and operations. Initially, we followed the trial & error approach, and also failed a few times. But soon, we set up the farm as a self-sustaining project and standardized the quality of products. This was followed by understanding the demands of retail market, logistics, cold-chain and distribution process of milk. The next challenge was to convince the customers of a better alternative to their exiting trusted brands. We took some time, effort and sampling to educate customers on the differentiation between packet milk and Cowboys.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Entering the agriculture domain with existing brands was a challenge. We had to educate the customers on our product quality and the difference. We are the only end-to-end brand where we control virtually every aspect and component of our milk production starting from feeding the cows to packaging and delivery to the end customer.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We are a closely held concern and are self-funded. The expansion and operations are moving with the speed of our own revenues and growth.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Everything starts with the belief in oneself to defy the conventions. Setting targets and following them honestly has always been the starting step of my endeavors. Another quality one must possess is out of the box thinking. I believe in constantly exploring unique methods to accomplish a task in the best possible way. Finally, to top it all, perseverance goes a long way.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Each morning I set my eyes on a target to bring about a small change.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I have a habit of looking into each task at hand personally and making sure it’s done to perfection. It is a very time intensive habit.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of people. We are continuously expanding at our end. Now, we are targeting premium residential apartments in Gurgaon and premium colonies of West Delhi for our new offering i.e. Pasteurized Cow Milk in a poly-pouch. Also, we are planning to expand our range of offerings by adding Paneer, Butter etc. and more natural goodness in the form of otherwise rarely available superfood like Cow Colostrum. We are also developing our farm as a destination for farm-stays and natural healing.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would make even more mistakes than I have, and defy the conventions at every step. I have come to realize that doing things differently and following your heart with all honesty goes a long way.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford