Chocolate Industry

Pune Inc: Startup serving old booze seeks to raise $5m in funding

Mumbai-based artist Anand Radhakrishnan, who won the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, considered the Oscars of the comic world, in 2021, has a penchant for sketching in public places and carries several sketchbooks with him. him.

One day in early 2019, he sat in a cafe and drew a group of customers – who turned out to be a team from Moonshine Meadery, a Pune-based company that is disrupting the alcohol market by making mead, one of the best in the world. the oldest alcoholic beverages, which were considered by the ancient Greeks to be the drink of the gods. The chance meeting between Radhakrishnan and Moonshine Meadery would result in a collaboration involving mead bottles.

Moonshine Meadery had discovered during the lockdown that many of their customers were people in their twenties. As a result, the company now wanted a younger, funkier and more stylish identity. Radhakrishnan joined the community of artists who would push the company’s rebranding by designing attractive and thought-provoking labels for its mead bottles.

While Radhakrishnan’s artwork can be seen on Apple Cyder Mead, fellow artist Sachin Bhatt, who creates “strange images that can cause strange amusement or slight discomfort” is on the bottle of Bourbon Oaked Apple Mead, and l The Clockwork Orange inspired art on the bottle of Chocolate Orange Mead is by Nikhil More.

“Before, our branding consisted of solid colors and fonts and nothing else, but we realized that today’s younger generation cares about ingredients and is willing to pay the price. There had been a huge culture shift since when we were 27. The more we talked to these people, the more we realized there was a need to rebrand and the way we communicate online needed to change as well. They want to see how we make the product and the people behind the brand. Now with every SKU we make sure there is a story that goes back to how we source the ingredient,” says Nitin Vishwas, Founder of Moonshine Meadery with Rohan Rehani.

Now Moonshine Meadery sells around 5,000 cases per month and expects that number to increase threefold this calendar year. In the past three months, they have opened four markets – Assam, Silvassa, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are planned in the first months of 2022. “We increased our capacity in November 2019 and planned to open new markets when in April 2020 everything closed due to the pandemic. We manufactured disinfectants and focused on our existing market. From October 2021, we started to open new markets. It was critical to reduce our geographic risks as a result of the pandemic,” adds Vishwas.

Assam was chosen for its huge potential largely untapped by Indian brands. “Logistically it is a nightmare but if you can navigate it you will find a deep market. At UP there is a possibility of a change in wine policy which will become more favorable and with that we have started noticing a changing trend with distributors looking for new brands,” says Vishwas. The brand’s presence in Noida would also give it access to Delhi. Rajasthan was chosen because mead would attract the large tourist population of the state, while Himachal Pradesh is where people from Delhi and surrounding areas travel for short vacations.

The range of meads are aligned with the Indian palate, in particular the guava chilli, made with multifloral honey, pink and white guava and Naga ghost chilli, which appeals to the nostalgia of Indian guava sprinkled with chilli powder , and mango chili whose ingredients are Kesar mango, Guntur chili and multifloral honey.

“We’re going to try to learn from everything that’s already out there and put a new spin on it,” says Rehani. Honey is the main ingredient and Moonshine also runs the Honey Project, with honey sourced from the hills of Uttarakhand to the forests of Nilgiri. “We look for beekeepers who source responsibly and don’t compromise on quality,” says Rehani, a beekeeper himself.

Moonshine started with an initial investment of Rs 55 lakh and over the years has raised just under $2 million from known sources. Currently in the middle of its first round of institutional funding and trying to raise $5 million. “The fact that we’ve had a lot of traction, especially over the last six months, should pay dividends for us in the first half,” he adds.