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11 Disruptive Companies Driving Goa’s Creative Revolution (Homegrown)
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11 Disruptive Companies Driving Goa’s Creative Revolution

- By Homegrown Staff <https://homegrown.co.in/author/31> | Posted Sep
06, 2018

I don’t want to begin this piece by using the phrase “sun, sand, and sea”
in a pathetic attempt to introduce Goa but unfortunately, that’s exactly
how many understand the place. Alas, cliches, it seems, are cliches for a
reason. We might know of Goa for its water sports, annual music concert
every December, cheap alcohol or possibly for its hidden treasures that
only come alive during its off-season monsoon showers. But beyond its sandy
beaches and glorious sunsets, an underground revolution has been unfolding
– one that’s being led by some of the most creative minds this country will
ever see.

Goa has recently emerged as a hotbed for contemporary startups that are
willing to take the plunge. From environmentally conscious fashion
boutiques and concept stores to quirky hostels and even quirkier ateliers,
the region has seen the growth of many new entrants determined to stray
away from conventional industries and explore newer horizons instead.

We’re not sure if it’s the intermingling of culture and commerce or the
economic benefits that the state seems to offer, but there’s definitely
some ambition floating around in the Goa breeze. So here they are,
chronicled and compartmentalised. Contemporary, creative ventures that are
out to create a space for themselves.

*I. Tea Trunk <https://teatrunk.in/>*

India’s first Tea Sommelier Snigdha Manchanda started out like any other
entrepreneur – bootstrapped and looking for ways to adequately fund her
start up. “It’s why I moved base to Goa after being born and brought up in
Mumbai,” she says. “I moved so that I could start my own homemade tea
company called *Teatrunk.in* with low overheads and cost of appreciation,
which is something you can’t do in Mumbai.”

In 2013, Snigdha started Tea Trunk as a primarily e-commerce store. Today
she ships not just across 250 locations in India but also to her
international audience. Tea Trunk works directly with the farmers to make
unique tea blends, not just in terms of flavours but health as well. “I
have always focused on bringing the most unique tea experiences from around
the world to the Indian audience. Because even though, in India, we make
some of the finest tea, we still don’t have a strong tea brand as such”,
she tells us.

It was Snigdha’s education in Sri Lanka, where she studied tea blending,
that opened up her world to the myriad possibilities that tea has to offer.
“It’s the kind of blends we do that makes us stand out.” Looking back,
Snigdha only wishes she could change one thing and that’s exactly what she
would advice emerging entrepreneurs, “I used to spend a lot of time just
wondering about whether or not I should approach this person for
collaboration. Instead, I wish I’d just picked up the phone and found out
for myself.”
[image: Snigdha Manchanda]Snigdha Manchanda

*II.* *Terra Conscious* <https://www.terraconscious.com/about>

After studying Biodiversity, Conservation & Management form the University
of Oxford and working with prestigious animal non-profit organisations, it
was only natural for Puja Mitra to channel all her knowledge and creativity
into setting up her own venture called “Terra conscious”—a
conservation-oruented social impact enterprise based in Goa, that offers
responsible marines and coastal travel experiences by working with local
communities.

“We started in February 2017, and it was basically born out of a need to
address gaps that I had observed during my time at WWF-India, where we
found that there was a need to transform the existing dolphin watching
industry in Goa into being more responsible, ethical and sensitive to the
marine species on which it depends. The current style of dolphin watching
being practiced in Goa is by and large detrimental to the safety and
conservation of the focal species.” says Puja, who co-found the enterprise
with her husband Roshan Gonsalves.

Having left behind the nine-to-five lifestyle, Puja’s life, ever since
Terra Conscious happened, has looked very different, “Marine tourism is
seasonal in Goa and runs only from November to May, so during that time we
would be out on a dolphin watching/diving trip in the morning, followed by
an outreach activity in the evening. During the offseason we work on our
capacity building programmes, workshops, outreach events etc.”, she shares.
Her advice to budding entrepreneurs would be: “Just be patient and follow
every opportunity and lead that may come your way. Stay true to your
passion and focus on the quality of your work, rest will follow.”
[image: Roshan and Puja]Roshan and Puja

*III. The Village Studio <http://villagestudios.com/>*

Laila Vaziralli first moved to Goa to do something she loved – paint. She
felt attracted to the greenery, the silence, and the abundance of goan fish
thaalis. However, what she discovered was a lack of art space that was
welcoming to emerging artists and a wider audience. So she went ahead and
created one herself by launching The Village Studio in September 2017. “The
Village Studio is set in a sleepy village in Parra, it’s where I live too.
I started it because I wanted to be more hands-on with my life, cooking,
creating, gardening, making coffee and engaging with people.”, she says.

The Village Studio has two parts to it: an all-day cafe that serves home
cooked healthy food along with a bar, and a studio that has two rooms which
can be rented out by people. It’s also on AirBnB and for artists and
creative professionals looking to rent it out on a long-term basis, they
also offer discounts. Along with this, the studio also presents musicians
every Friday and hosts talks, movie screenings, book launches, dance and
theatre performances.

A typical day for Laila looks something like this, “I get to the café by
9am, greeted by cats and dogs. Coffee is always first on the agenda, in the
garden. The rest of the day is a mix of cooking for customers, buying fresh
fish, baking, interacting with guests.”

And although that sounds so much like a dream (for me at least), Laila
can’t help but share the difficulties that pop-up every now and then. “Goa
comes with unique challenges, staff for one. Most people stay for the
season and leave when it rains, or are in Goa for a ‘break’ from the city.
Starting a business on my own wasn’t easy too, I self funded it, and that
comes with limitations and challenges. I had to be really creative to work
within a small budget.”

Her advice to budding creative minds would be to collaborate as much as
they can, even before they’ve built a brand. “Go out there and meet people,
partner with people who have experience, it makes a big difference when you
share responsibilities. I plan to do more of this.”
[image: Laila Vaziralli]Laila Vaziralli

*IV. thus. <https://thuscritique.com/about/>*

Alternative views in the areas of culture, politics, environment, business,
art and music are the forerunners of change and progress – yet discerning
them continues to remain a challenge. A Goa-based venture called ‘thus’ is
doing exactly that. Founded by Nilankur Das, thus curates programs that
strengthen the connection between artistic practices and social activism,
by encouraging participation and engagement through spaces that promote
constant exchanging and evolving of ideas. From live gigs, talks,
presentations, to film screenings, theater, and performances, thus tries to
bring together the best of creativity that might often go unnoticed in the
real world.

A typical day for Nilankur involves brainstorming and coming up with
content ideas, and coordinating with his fellow team members. However, it
is the “sharp content” that makes thus stand out from the crowd. In fact,
Nilankur is a big believer of the fact that the customer/consumer is in
fact the ‘king’. “That audience is intelligent and we need to constantly
keep up to the expectations”, he says.

When asked about who he thinks would be the ideal mascot for his venture,
his answer is crisp but unlike what we usually hear: “I believe mascot/
idea of mascot will be evolving with time, right now it is Father
Bismarque.”

*V. The Paperboat Collective
<https://www.paperboatcollective.in/the-collective>*

With feet firmly grounded in crafts, sustainable practices and an
understanding of where the world is headed, Paper Boat Collective was
founded as a platform to showcase works of talented designers from India in
2013 by Bhagyashree Patwardhan, an NID graduate who has worked immensely in
the contemporary design and branding space. “ Paper Boat Collective was the
culmination of my 15-year art & design journey. It’s a unique concept
lifestyle store, showcasing diverse handmade products that portray a
contemporary and responsible India”, says Bhagyashree.

But Paperboat is not just a concept lifestyle store; it is one that
showcases products by Indian talent across multiple categories. In fact,
everything sold here is made using natural or organic materials that
contibute to the modern way of living.

Bhagyashree has a keen eye when it comes to curating a selection of
products that reflect the perfect contemporary aesthetic that seamlessly
blends in with our everyday life. But it’s her undying belief in herself
and her ideas and thoughts that has got her through the worst of times,
even when it felt like everything would come crashingg down. “I am a
creative entrepreneur. My strength lies in creative thinking, I do things
differently and I feel for them a lot more than people governed more with a
business mindset. Understanding the running of a business, weighing the
pros and cons of emotion led versus analytical decisions and finding the
right balance was a tough journey.”, she tells us.

Five years into this journey, she has managed to put various systems in
place which now gives her the chance to focus more on the growth aspect of
her work. But even then, she swears by one word always — “believe”.

*VI. Capoeira
<https://www.facebook.com/pg/capoeiragoa/about/?ref=page_internal>*

As someone hailing from a background of art and music, Dinesh Garg never
imagined himself as a sports person, let alone a ‘combat’ sport person. But
fate works in fascinating ways. It was a chance encounter that led Dinesh
to enter the world of Capoeira, a combat sport that has served as a
cultural bridge between Africa and Brazil during the colonial era.

Once he had developed an interest in the game, there was absolutely no
stopping him. “Once I moved to Goa in 2013, I started teaching Capoeira
just to keep myself in practice. Two years later, two of my friends –
Sucuri and Chico along with Mestre Chicote of CDO Paris, helped establish
the group Capoeira de Ouro Mumbai. So it was only natural for us to come
together and make the sport grow in Goa as well”, Dinesh tells us.

But trying to promote such a niche sport is not a cake walk. In a country
that barely understands contemporary sports dynamics, taking up a martial
art and making people aware about it is quite a big challenge. And once you
bring in the commercial aspect, things can get even more difficult.

“The biggest challenge we face is funding. Capoeira is only a decade old
phenomenon in India, although its popularity as a fitness activity is
growing, most of the senior and more experienced teachers live in Brazil,
Europe and North America. To have these masters come and teach in India and
to be able to actively involve our students from our social empowerment
initiatives, we need sponsors for workshops and events, not just big
businesses but even individual contributions and volunteering go a long way
in keeping this group alive and kicking”, Dinesh tells us. But it’s the
social impact and the value it adds to the lives of many children. Capoeira
works with many underprivileged children and orphans in the country,
keeping them from straying into the world of drugs, violence, and
self-loathing.
[image: Image Credit: Sachin Pillai]Image Credit: Sachin Pillai

*VII. Goa Brewing Company
<https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Brewery/Goa-Brewing-Co-507938809549800/>*

34-year-old Suraj Shenai never realised the amount of watered down lagers
he had been consuming all his life until an opportune flight to the states,
when he realised the beauty of authentic, flavorful craft beer.

Fast forward to his acquaintance with a scientist and colleague named Ash,
“We hit it off and he believed in the idea of brewing beers that would
challenge us both creatively and technically instead of brewing (wheat)
beers that would be fast selling. We used to brew on the weekends in a
homebrew kit and eventually scaled it up in a nano brewery”, says Suraj,
who founded the Goa Brewing Company in 2017 to make exclusively
non-conformist beers that rid craft beer of all its preconceived
pretentiousness and focused greatly on customising it for a unique,
flavourful experience.

But life at a brewery is quite different from what any of us might imagine.
Suraj often begins his day as early as 5:30 am. “Brewing goes on till 1 am
the following day. The whole team is in the brewery lending a hand as the
work is very physical. On other days, I start at 9 am and the morning is
spent checking beer.”

Regardless of such rigorous work hours, it’s Suraj’s passion that keeps him
motivated, “You have to be really passionate about your product. It should
be your undying desire to make the best product”. That and a profoundly
worded quote by Herman Hesse, “Everyone can reach his goals, if he is able
to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast” — because Suraj
believes that there is a good chance one might have to do all three.
[image: Suraj Shenai]Suraj Shenai

*VIII. No Nasties <https://www.nonasties.in/>*

Interestingly, it was the unfortunate plight of farmer suicides that urged
Apurva Kothari to take on the responsibility of becoming a socially
conscious entrepreneur — something he felt most other brands were lacking.
Armed with a sense of purpose and his wife, Shweta Deliwala’s support, he
launched ‘No Nasties’ an organic clothing brand in 2011 in Mumbai. It’s
only recently that No Nasties was relocated to the serene shores of Goa
where Apurva found the perfect environment to grow even further.

Despite having shifted base, No Nasties continues to garner loyalists that
come from world over as it sells primarily through it’s online website,
with occasional pop-ups in Goa. In an interview with Herald Goa
<https://www.heraldgoa.in/Review/Goa-Social/%E2%80%98No-Nasties%E2%80%99-inspires-%E2%80%98yes-organic%E2%80%99-/122773.html>,
Apurva says, “Our promise is that ‘No Nasties’ - no genetically modified
(GMO) seeds, no carcinogenic pesticides, no toxic dyes and no unfair
business practices goes into making our products. In fact. we believe in
transparency and share our supply chain model. Our focus is on
collaborating rather than competing.” In fact, their supply chain can be
accessed anytime by anyone on their website
<https://www.nonasties.in/pages/about-us>.

But organic, eco-friendly alternatives are not all this couple has on its
plate. Apurva and Shweta have recently launched a non-profit organisation
as well — called ‘Once Upon A Doug’, which works to engage with and support
women belonging to the cotton farming community in Vidarbha.
[image: Apurva Kothari. Image Credit: Nonasties.in]Apurva Kothari. Image
Credit: Nonasties.in

*IX. The Goa Project <http://www.thegoaproject.com/>*

48-year-old Udhay Shankar N found The Goa Project in 2013, but his tryst
with the world of entrepreneurship began much before that. He was a part of
the first Indian startup to get Silicon Valley funding in 1998, followed by
two stints in the Venture Capital space. However, his most-recent start-up,
The Goa Project, is quite unlike anything he has done before. “An annual
‘unconference’ that happens in Goa, The Goa Project was born out of a
series of conversations between the founding team on how to pull together
interesting people across locations and backgrounds. From there, we have
gathered a few hundred of the most interesting people in the world 5 times
in a row, this being the sixth year of The Goa Project.”, he explains.

What makes the organisation stand out is how it curates interesting people
across backgrounds and helps them converse and collaborate with each other.
Regardless, challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Being an all-volunteer
run organisation probably being the biggest one. “Putting together a team
that is distributed across the country, with just volunteers, is the
biggest logistical challenge. Making sure everyone’s motivation is high and
relationships within the team are strong is the only way to pull it off”,
he shares. “I think my mascot would be an eagle that soars free.”

The fact that while running an organisation like The Goa Project that
functions in such a dynamic environment means that there is not such thing
as a “typical day” for him. Each day begins with a different set of hurdles
to overcome and ends with even more fulfilling learnings. His one advice to
budding entrepreneurs would be just this: “In my time as an entrepreneur,
I’ve learnt that if you build, they will come. All you have to do is focus
on validation of the problem you are solving first, before building
anything.”
[image: Udhay Shankar N]Udhay Shankar N

*X. **And So* <https://andso.in/about-us/>

While home decor is always a treat for the eye, not everyone possesses the
kind of skill and knack it requires. And hiring an interior designer to do
up your room too doesn’t always seem like the most affordable option. But
with this new furniture store opening up in Goa, those worries are going to
be put to bed very soon.

Anjali Mody’s flagship store located in Porvorim in Goa was set up with the
idea of selling not just furniture but entire interior designs that people
could walk in, choose, and take home immediately. Working with quirky
brands like Art & Found, Botl etc., And So is Anjali’s attempt of bringing
a certain ease to shopping
<http://www.itsgoa.com/experiential-design-atelier-goa/> that normally
doesn’t exist. Here, people and come and shop for everything they need
under one roof – they can even pack up entire rooms if they’d like!

Affordability is of course a huge part of Anjali’s venture. As someone who
has been associated with the industry for almost 8 years, she wants to
bring in that factor of accessibility by ensuring that things fall within a
certain price range <https://lbb.in/goa/and-so/> and don’t go overboard
like most bespoke furniture stores.
[image: Anjali Mody and Anthony Kordolia. Image Credit: Herald Goa]Anjali
Mody and Anthony Kordolia. Image Credit: Herald Goa

*XI. Ecoposro
<https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Grocery-Store/Ecoposro-405986196489724/>*

We’ve all heard of people and places trying to minimise waste but Ecoposro,
in Goa, is taking that idea to whole different level by not creating waste
at all!

India’s first ‘Zero Waste Grocery Store’, Ecoposro is the brainchild of
Jonah and Eldridge. A homely little shop tucked into a quaint hamlet in
Parra, Ecoposro not only sells organic products but also handpicks the
vendors and suppliers it works with, ensuring that there is no waste
generated in the supply chain. “For example, our vegetables come from a
vendor who only packs using cloth or jute sacks. Being fussy about no
plastic from source has made it more difficult for us, but the satisfaction
is overwhelming”, they tell Homegrown.
<https://homegrown.co.in/article/802654/goas-first-zero-waste-grocery-store-is-setting-a-great-example>

From providing ample parking space right next to the store to selling glass
bottles and jars which can be brought back for a 50% refund to home
delivering groceries — Ecoposro is trying every possible method to tackle
waste generation without letting it affect the cost of their products. But
in the long-run, Eldridge and Jonah have a much larger goal of transforming
Ecoposro into a centre where people can come and learn how to make their
own products, a space where local artisans can come and showcase their
work, and an integral player in the ongoing environmental movement in Goa.

*Feature Image Courtesy: The Village Studio Goa (L) and Tea Trunk (R)*




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