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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Gurpreet Kaur earns Rs 18 lakh a year from gluten-free food business motivated by her daughter’s illness

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Every morning, Gurpreet Kaur of Dehradun tenderly packed her youngest daughter a healthy lunch. Her daughter’s tiffins were untouched lately when she got home from school.

“This became routine. When I offered her food, she said, ‘Mumma, I am not hungry’. This astonished me. How can a growing child not be hungry all day? says the 45-year-old mother.

Gurpreet noticed her seven-year-old daughter was pale and tired every day. “She was also not growing as tall or as heavy as her peers. Her stomach problems became common, she said.

In 2008, their family doctor diagnosed her daughter with celiac disease. We discovered her small intestine knots during an ultrasound and other procedures. She had a high infection. Next came a biopsy. Her diagnosis was celiac disease, she says.

Gurpreet was unaware of it. She became gluten-allergic from the condition. The doctor told us the allergy was incurable and the only cure was a gluten-free diet. A person with this illness should not eat wheat, she says.

The experience made Gurpreet seek other options for her daughter. She founded ‘Geggle’, a gluten-free, millet-based flours, cookies, cakes, breads, and snacks firm, to meet this need.

Before starting her own business, BCom graduate Gurpreet taught maths and computers for 15 years in numerous schools. She quit her employment in 2018 to raise her family.

In this time, she tried several ingredients. Finding dishes her daughter liked proved tough. “I gave her besan chillas, poha, idli, and dosa, but she got tired of rice and besan every day. Gurpreet said she wanted wheat chapati, something filling.

Gurpeet did everything she could, from attending seminars, studying online, consulting with nutritionists and doctors, and obtaining gluten testing kits from the UK.

I tried getting gluten-free flour online, but chapatis were challenging. While we ate soft chapatis, my kid ate hard ones. This broke my heart, but we had no alternative, she says.

Flour flavor and adulteration were other issues. “If she asked for gluten-free cookies, I would buy a pack no matter the price. After one or two cookies, she stopped eating them because they tasted bad. I threw out whole boxes after paying so much,” she says.

Meanwhile, Gurpreet couldn’t rely on market products. We can hide wheat in any product. I discovered that ketchup and hing (asafoetida) contain wheat with the testing kits, she says.She founded her company after hearing from many families seeking gluten-free alternatives.

To compensate for the market’s lack of possibilities, Gurpreet bought a tiny milling machine for home use.

The grinder can ground 2-3 kilograms of entire grains, chickpeas, and rice. This lasted until 2020, when she met BARC officials in Mumbai, India’s main nuclear research center.

Gurpreet’s husband learned about BARC’s Technology Transfer & Collaboration program through the CII’s Dehradun corporate office in 2019. The programme provides technical expertise for transferring technologies across science and technology.

She says, “I learned that they make gluten-free chapati flour from millets such jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), chickpea, and psyllium husk. My daughter loved it when I made it. Finally, I offered her something pleasant, soft, and nourishing. The quantities of these substances matter.”

Gurpreet struck a deal with BARC to mass-produce gluten-free chapati flour in 2021. We received the permission to mass produce BARC’s gluten-free multigrain flour premix after applying for the scheme, adds Gurpreet. BARC shared the formulation after seeing our commitment to society.

These products were likewise in higher demand. She founded Geggle in September 2022 after hearing from many families seeking gluten-free alternatives.
Millet cakes, samosas, kulchas, etc.

“After seeing how well my daughter did on this flour, our doctor recommended it to other similar families. She says many families started visiting and ordering in bulk.

Since starting with chapati flour, Gurpreet now serves multi-grain flour, daliya and suji (wheat products) replacers, rice/maize/bajra flours, tea cakes, buns, celebration cakes, pastries, breads, and even samosas, pizzas, kulchas, and pastries for allergy sufferers. In the past year, she earned Rs 18 lakh.

She has served over 250 individuals and receives 200 orders per month from Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Chandigarh, Mohali, Delhi, Roorkee, Saharanpur, Ludhiana, and Kotdwar.

Dehradun-based Frequent Geggle client Preety Mohpatra tells The Better India, “I have been getting cookies and multi-grain flour from them for the past seven months. They make delicate chapatis from their flour. Preparation is simple. I don’t need hot water to knead dough from this wheat like others.”

My 10-year-old son likes the taste. What a relief. At his birthday party, I got gluten-free cakes, pizzas, momos, samosas, and kulchas. The party was great, she says.

Gurpreet founded the business to soothe other mothers like her. “I can’t express how much I enjoy this work. Parents applaud us for ending their useless product hunt. Seeing such grins makes me so happy, she says.

Sunil Pandey
Sunil Pandey
The business professional who loves penning down his thoughts/ insights on business, entrepreneurship, & startups. His ability to break down complex business concepts into easy & concise write-ups makes him a wonderful author. He believes that writing is a powerful tool for communication and education.

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