First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rakesh Ravindran: We have been blessed with good health during these testing times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Astra Dairy.
Rakesh Ravindran: We were majorly into manufacturing and exporting of home textiles for over five decades while agriculture remained only as a personal interest. In early 2010, my father, Shri M. Ravindran, the founder of Astra Dairy, shared his need to procure pure farm-fresh milk and dairy products for our household, considering children at home. His vision that his need is also a necessity for the entire growing generation led to Astra Dairy starting in mid-2010.
How does Astra Dairy innovate?
Rakesh Ravindran: From milking without human intervention to packaging in glass bottles was not prevalent for fresh cow milk when Astra Dairy was launched. In fact, we are proud to say that we pioneered the concept of bringing farm fresh cow milk directly to your doorsteps. We ensured that fresh milk extracted is taken to homes directly from our farms without any middlemen ensuring quality and purity not just by words but with our product.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rakesh Ravindran: Yes, while we were able to cater to our customers every single day during and post lockdown, we are also witnessing some drop as some of our customers moved their families from Chennai to their home towns during this period. But since quality, our only marketing tool, and the strong word-of-mouth recommendations of our esteemed customers have helped us beat the initial drop within 3months.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rakesh Ravindran: Some prospective customers sighting the price factor recommended delivering our products in plastic bottles; also suggestions of procuring milk from other farms to help the rising demands kept coming.
But standing by our founder’s vision, we have kept quality and purity as our way of life and have seen success, which, off-course, was no easy walk.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Rakesh Ravindran: Being at the farm in our GOSHALA with our Cows and other farm animals and agriculture is the only stress buster that we ever need. In fact, they motivate us to do more EVERYDAY.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rakesh Ravindran: Honestly and not for the readers’ delight, we have been only focusing our efforts on just running our farm in the best possible way, ensuring the well-being of our Cows, and safe guarding the purity of our products to our customers, who are our extended family today. Our employees who have helped us create this beautiful experience for us and our customers’ appreciations and word of mouth recommendations have kept us busy and helped us grow to date and not let us divert to the so-called market-equations.
Your final thoughts?
Rakesh Ravindran: We have learned the hard way that delivering pure and fresh products to your homes, especially in testing times like these, is nowhere close to easy. But the continuous support from your customers when you deliver your promise is the biggest reward that anyone can ask for. Take this opportunity on behalf of the Astra Family to thank every single person who has contributed to our journey so far. Namaste!
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