“There is only one Harrods (London), and we’re very proud that our journey begins here”
For Anith Puthiyankath (SCMS-Cochin, 1997) getting his products to the shelves of Harrods (London) has been as much about producing the very best, as it is about saying the story well.
A postgraduate in Business Management from SCMS-Cochin, 1997, Anith Puthiyankath grew up in the world of business, as a 3rd generation member of the Ittiyera Group: a 100 – year – old family business, producing and trading edible oils, started by his grandfather in the year 1921. Anith, while being proud of this legacy, always wanted to have a startup of his own… a blank canvas to paint the picture he wished to. This led to the inception of World of Origins, in 2012.
“Kerala, my home state, is a top tourist destination… legendary for its rich spices. During my travels, I often noticed the presence of products from Kerala, in some of the grandest stores in the world. Even though they were perceived in the same light as the choicest red wines from Burgundy or the finest balsamic from Modena, not much was mentioned about the producers or the region. I was convinced that if consumers were interested to know more about the French and Italian estates, they would most definitely be interested in finding out more about the Keralian producers in this exotic land.”
Thus began the journey for both World of Origins and its first brand K BY TYNDIS. The ‘K’ stands for ‘Kerala’ and ‘TYNDIS’ is the name of an ancient trading port in Kerala, which currently lies beneath the sea, destroyed by a massive flood in 13AD.
Within a few months of its launch, the K BY TYNDIS premium organic virgin coconut oil found itself on the exclusive shelves of Harrods, London. Following this promising start, the plan for K BY TYNDIS is to become a portfolio of the finest natural products that Kerala has to offer. K BY TYNDIS’ second product – the organic Wayanadan TGSEB Peppercorns – is poised to top the success story of the virgin coconut oil.
For Anith, these peppercorns – officially the highest grade of pepper in the world and native to Wayanad in Kerala – represent a lot more than just a product, it is also about the people, the place and the traditions. It has taken two years for the product to hit the shelves of some of the finest retailers in the UK and Germany. For this project, in 2013 World of Origins entered into a joint venture with Vanamoolika – a community of about 400 organic farmers in the mountainous region of Wayanad.
“With the Wayanadan project, we are working closely with Vanamoolika to revive the Wayanadan TGSEB peppercorns which have almost become extinct. Due to low yield and lack of commercial propositions, the farmers have been replacing it with higher yielding varieties. Unfortunately our farmers hadn’t realised that not only were they destroying something special, but they were also endangering their own identity. The reviews so far have been fantastic and we are now taking the Wayanadan to other European markets.”
Looking into the future Anith says, “There is of course only one Harrods and we are extremely proud that our journey begins here, but they are not alone when it comes to fine food retailing. They may not be of the same size or as iconic a name as Harrods, but there are a number of retailers across Europe and elsewhere who share the same passion and philosophy. It is this group that we are talking to, a group that looks beyond the product and its packaging”
Clearly, Anith’s business is a heady concoction of his business education; a free mixing of his roots (SCMS-Cochin), with his connects from University of Leeds (MBA in Marketing).
On his 2nd MBA and his time at SCMS-Cochin, “I decided to do a second MBA only because I went to SCMS-C straight after my graduation and I approached it pretty much the same way as my undergraduate degree. I felt I didn’t make the most of it. I was older when I attended Leeds. It also had a multicultural environment and the average age of the class at Leeds was much higher; meaning it was a much more experienced crowd. I enjoyed my time at SCMS-C and it instilled a strong discipline in me. There is one particular incident that I remember well, involving the late Mr. Pradeep Thevanoor; someone very dear to me. One day, he stopped me at the gates for turning up in a pair of jeans and a baseball T-shirt. He made sure I went back to the hostel and dressed appropriately, even at the expense of missing my morning lectures. I learnt my lesson as nowadays I almost always am dressed for the occasion.”
Anith is now taking his art of reviving, preserving and marketing the finest produce, beyond the realms of Kerala. World of Origins is currently working on new projects with local producers in Asia and Central America.
Though a startup, World of Origins now sits within the Ittiyera Group, which Anith co-manages with his brother Ajith. To celebrate the Ittiyera legacy, a new brand of coconut oil called ‘I’ is now in the pipeline, designed purely for the domestic market. “With I, we want to offer a different proposition to what is currently available – a brand that captures our heritage but at the same time is in tune with the future, as we recognise the importance to evolve with the times; otherwise we risk becoming a part of folklore.”