5 Minutes With Aman Gupta
VEEN Scene 013

It is June 2020. Many – but not all – nations around the world are at some stage of easing restrictions imposed some 3-4 months ago. The world is eager to see sports manifestations restart, international travel to increase, and most of us are warmly welcoming the idea of a lunch at our favourite local restaurant. Crisis response of hotels and restaurants around the world has been largely dependent on the government bailout packages and their respective flexibility and adaptability in this unprecedented situation. Businesses are focusing on development and recovery strategies, finding ways to best navigate the unstable times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The same applies for restaurant and hotel suppliers; the entire supply chain. As a premium bottled water producer, VEEN has been a part of this chain since 2007. But with its business hitting a complete standstill in February 2020, the last few months have been a reflective time for the team. Determined as ever to survive – and hopefully come out stronger at the other end of the crisis – VEEN Scene caught up with Aman Gupta, Managing Director of VEEN, just as he & the team are beginning to see results of their change strategy, redefining the future of their business in the post-COVID world.

Aman, tell us in brief, where was VEEN as the pandemic hit in early February and market lockdowns began to be instated?

The last 12 months have been a path of “redefining” for VEEN.  Our team has been asking us to develop a bigger portfolio of brands, have online shopping presence and take steps into retail from our core sales channel which is HORECA.  This and my own personal journey towards many changes in my own lifestyle led to the idea of Zero Percent, the new vertical that we are launching within the group.

Sounds like VEEN was on its evolution path even before the pandemic. It only…accelerated it?

Indeed we were and the pandemic certainly did accelerate this path.  We have been badly affected by the virus like almost all our dear customers and accelerating the “redefining” path of our business was the only chance we had facing us.  I strongly believe that we have identified a strong path for business in the post COVID world – one that can make a difference, has a purpose and is the need of the hour.

How will VEEN (an established, 13-year-old brand) and Zero Percent co-exist?

We have recently created a new Group level company, called Third Culture Group for all our businesses.  Our brands, VEEN and Zero Percent and all other business and brands that we develop in the future will operate under this group structure.  VEEN and Zero Percent will co-exist in harmony.

As an owner and an entrepreneur, you must have had several ways to drive change to your business; so tell us, what is Zero Percent and why is VEEN betting on this path?

We believe that the future of food and beverage consumption has to be around mindful consumption and incorporating a mindful lifestyle is key to this.  We have created the Zero Percent Shop to become the “go to” platform for the mindful lifestyle focusing on a unique selection of curated food and beverage brands in the categories of 0% alcohol, 0% dairy, 0% pesticides, 0% sugar, 0% microplastic, Fine Water and 0% meat.

We want to help consumers drink less alcohol, consume less sugar and consume more organic, eat less meat and consume healthier in order to be happier.

Do the market trends and consumer habits substantiate your plans?

Indeed they do – more and more people are ditching alcohol, plant based dairy is becoming very popular, consumers want more organic products, people understand the ill-effects of sugar, and reducing our meat intake as a planet is the only way forward.  All these things are happening and more and more consumers want brands catering to these lifestyle changes that it is easier for them to make these changes.  We felt that bringing all the categories together in one platform is what could make a difference not only for consumers but also for small and medium sized producers like ourselves to have a common online/offline platform to showcase our brands.

This is a 5-minute chat, so please give us the elevator pitch on Zero Percent concept!

The Zero Percent shop is on a mission to build the mindful consumption movement by building awareness and through bringing together all these 0% categories and brands so that they are easily accessible to consumers who want to consume more responsibly and still enjoy themselves.

What is the growth plan for Zero Percent?

Over the next three years we want to roll out the Zero Percent concept/portfolio into 200+ cities across the EU, Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Far East Asia making it easier for consumers to join this mindful consumption lifestyle.

Ok, Aman, tell us then, what is your our go-to 0% drink this summer?

This is a difficult one to answer! We are so fortunate to have built good relationships with several great brands now launching in our zero percent portfolio. Without these great brands and their fantastic flavours, there would be no Zero Percent. I’ve been a wine lover all my life, and I must say the technology advancements in non-alcoholic wine production has really impressed me, and Im a big fan of the Rosé we have on offer at the Zero Percent Shop.

And for female visitors of zeropercent.shop, what do you recommend?

Start your day with an Ayurveda Super Shot and Mighty Pea Barista milk Latte, enjoy a SpritzISH with lunch, start the evening with an Undone 0% Negroni, dinner accompanied by a Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling and finish the evening with Āsmi Ayurveda’s relax blend of organic camomile and rose petal tea.