Startup, shake up
THE WEEK|September 06, 2020
These young entrepreneurs have twisted and tweaked their business ideas to suit Covid-19-influenced lifestyles
SNEHA BHURA

Shubham Khurana is a “swimming pool designer”. The 24-year-old says his Delhi-based family has been in the business of constructing swimming pools for 25 years. But that is not the only credential he has. This self-avowed gin-lover started off a passion project to create his own brand of the alcoholic beverage also called ‘mother’s ruin’.

He tried 40 different recipes with multiple botanicals over two years. It was in the 14th or 15th recipe that he added hemp seeds, which he would often buy while on a Keto diet. Once he tasted the concoction, he knew he was on to something. Now, GinGin, set to launch in Goa by August end, is India’s only single-shot distilled ‘hemp’ gin. A play on the Italian word CinCin that means “cheers”, the homemade gin will be bottled in a sleek, rectangular slab of glass. And with a name that is as straightforward as it is unapologetic. “How many people will know Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are gin brands? This will straightaway let people know what it is,” says Khurana.

The spirit—comprising nine botanicals like lavender, rosemary, cinnamon and butterfly pea flower—is very much a lockdown baby. Khurana was supposed to import a full gin distillation still in February to prepare for an April 15 launch. He had been importing most of his botanicals from Italy. Instead, the lockdown scuttled all import plans to make him truly “atmanirbhar” (self-reliant). He built his own column still and all his botanicals are now sourced from Himachal Pradesh. “This is the first-ever gin to be made in an India-made still,” says the single-man team behind GinGin.

It was Orson Welles who said, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” At a time when small businesses are getting pummelled, some lifestyle startups are using the crisis as a launchpad, fully aware that the rules are changing every week. Forced to twist and tweak their ideas in a pandemic, these entrepreneurs are banking on innovation to thrive amid uncertainty.

Their products represent slivers of opportunity presented at a strange time when logistics and transportation are as unstable as they would be during natural disasters. And social media is the most convenient marketing tool to reach millions glued to their devices more than ever. With no offline events and publicity pyrotechnics, the limited resources can now be poured into making more refined, thoughtful products.

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