Nitin Vishwas Curated
Co-Founder | Moonshine Meadery
CURATED BY :
How do you procure all the honey required for the production of mead?
One of the reasons the Maharashtra government was willing to give us approval for the meadery was also to bump up sales of honey among farmers (in the region). At the meadery, we source honey directly from bee-keepers and ensure they are paid a fair price for their produce. We also aim to sponsor bee-keeping kits to farmers, creating an additional means of revenue generation, while also helping the ecosystem by protecting bees. We have begun this process with a partner restaurant, and hope to see this model replicated with farmers from across the country.
How did you manage funds during your initial days?
We raised an initial round of funds through personal finances as well as family and friends in 2016. We kept costs low by finding creative solutions. For instance, we designed some of our own equipment. The commercial quotes we got for a bottling machine were quite high. So, we designed a machine with the help of a local fabricator after finding a schematic model on YouTube. We also raised another round of funds through investors, some of whom include my mentors and senior executives at McKinsey. Keep an eye on your bottom line is my advice to first-time entrepreneurs. A lot of people don’t focus on that and neither did we when we started out but it’s something we have been revisiting. It makes the business a lot more sustainable.
What lessons did you learn during your initial days?
From setting up accounting systems to the meadery and production processes, we have had to learn everything on the job. One of the hardest things was getting the product right. Some of the initial batches were not good enough to be bottled and we had to watch something we had invested so much in, go down the drain. Making mistakes has been part of the learning process. Be(e) patient and have a sense of humor about delays.
What do you do about the perception of people that 'mead is sweet'?
The biggest challenge is educating people about this category. Secondly, this myth that the mead is sweet because it’s made from honey needs to be broken. Our meads are as sweet as a dry white wine. We have opened our Pune Facility to mead tours, where visitors can view the production process, indulge in tasting sessions, and create their own meads.
What did it take to start Moonshine Meadery?
Though we started the company in January 2016, it took us a year to get the government to create ‘mead’ as a category in the excise books. Getting a license took another year and a half. After our meadery created a buzz on social media, we got calls from vendors in Southeast Asian countries, because apparently, mead isn’t sold there either. We did a lot of research and over 200 tasters before we launched the product. Plus, the Indian market is coming of age. We are where the U.S. was in the 90s. The mushrooming of local breweries brewing varieties of craft beer has exposed Indian consumers to newer tastes.
What is mead and what does moonshine brings to the table?
It’s an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey. It comes from the word madh, which means honey in Sanskrit. It’s an easy beverage to drink because it isn’t too sweet, but you will get very clear notes of honey coming to you at all times. Our mead is absolutely Indian in its roots. Raw materials like honey, apple, and even coffee are sourced from within the country, as well as are our manufacturers.