TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Parul Sharma, Co-founder, Gladful, visionary

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TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Parul Sharma is a visionary. An FMCG veteran with 14 years of CPG experience who has worked with brands like Cadbury Gems & Five Stars at Mondelez India and having worked extensively with the target audience of mothers and children, she knew that she had to start Gladful. Gladful was actually an epiphany that arose from a personal pain point. A mundane pediatric consultancy for her kids led Parul to realize how protein deficiency can affect a child’s growth and daily activity. She was even more stunned to learn there were hundreds of parents who had similar concerns and overlooked the importance of this macronutrient. Soon she got her younger brother Manu on board who has vast experience working with high-growth startup companies like Insta-cash (founding member), Veris, and Winzo. After intense rounds of hustle, research, and execution they built a brand where nutrition and taste could co-exist. Gladful, by the way, has recently received a Rs 50 lakh investment in the second season of the well-known business reality show Shark Tank India from “sharks” Aman Gupta, Amit Jain and Namita Thapar. The sharks loved the products and agreed to the fact that 73% of the urban population lacks enough protein and the majority of protein brands target the health-committed gym-goers which causes protein deficiency to afflict typical families with children for whom there are no options on the shelves. Kudos to TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Parul Sharma.

Parul Sharma

Your journey has had many momentous milestones. Could you tell us about your life-changing journey that has molded you to be what you are today?
Gladful was an epiphany that arose from a personal pain point. I was taken aback by the fact that one of my kids was protein deficient. As a result, I experienced a great deal of self-blame, anxiety, and guilt about not being a good parent. After this, I took the matter into my own hand and dove deep into the sea of food & nutrition, I was surprised when I found out that our typical Indian diet doesn’t have the amount of protein we need. Secondly, unlike fats, proteins can’t be stored in our bodies, so they must be consumed daily! That is when I parted ways from my 15 years long corporate journey and decided to start my own venture along with my younger brother Manu (i.e Gladful) where nutrition and taste could co-exist.

Could you list 3 of your major achievements?

●Dream big, start small but most importantly start. Being an entrepreneur can be both exciting and challenging. While the idea of creating something new can be thrilling, the process of starting and growing a business can also be intimidating. It requires a lot of conviction and strength to take decisions like that. But the ability to pursue your passions could be incredibly fulfilling. It was pretty shocking for my parents when, both, my younger brother Manu and I decided to quit our jobs to start our own venture. The idea of letting go of me letting go of an organization that I loved terrified them and they spent evenings discussing things I would be letting go: stable income, a chance to grow further in the same firm, and a great team. But after a while I convinced them. It’s funny how even though I am a mom of two, I needed to have an alignment with my parents before I started Gladful.

●Months after we started our operation, I had an opportunity to be an awardee for Gladful and received Microsoft For Startups Rising Initiatives Grant for working towards protein sufficiency in India.

●Last month, we were featured on Shark Tank 2. Watching ourselves on the big screen felt like a daydream. It was surreal and nerve-wracking at the same time. Being able to take our vision and present it in front of 5 sharks was exhilarating. We were so nervous thinking about how would the audience perceive our pitch, But we were overwhelmed and surprised by the abundance of love showered our way.

What are the setbacks you have faced? How did you tackle these setbacks or challenges? And what lesson have you learned from it?
Before launching Gladful, we did solid research and spoke to thousands of parents across India. We realized more than 93% of mothers did not know the functions of proteins. A lot of them believed that protein was essential but did not know how much was enough. Surprisingly, protein consumption was low across cities, economic strata, and age groups. There are several myths surrounding protein, such as 2 bowls of dal are enough, protein makes you gain weight, it leads to digestive issues, proteins are only for bodybuilders, and so many more. The myths existed within educated circles too and frankly, it was baffling. For me personally, it was also a journey of self-reflection as I was also trying to bring change in the way we thought about food as a family. To date, we get queries from customers about protein and its functionality. Educating our customers and people about healthy and sustainable is challenging but we will keep doing it.

When you look back, what are the three qualities in you that have helped you become what you are today?

Three qualities that helped me reach here: I am a very curious person, and a learner by nature, which is why new things excite me and I’m willing to go deep and stretch myself to learn and try new things. Secondly, I do believe that I drive people around me and I’ve always been known as a person who gets things done and pushes people, and rallies effort in a positive way. I am full of energy when it comes to working and people around me also get aligned with the same vision and purpose. Third, I do things that personally matter a lot to me because I do believe that if you take challenges that are personal to you, then you will surely give your best.

Who are the people who have been the wind behind your wings?

I am ever so grateful for my family, my kids, and my husband Sudhir who let me take such a serious punt at a time when I was earning significantly and was in a very comfortable place. I was given the privilege of not worrying about the financial load which allowed me to completely be on my entrepreneurial journey Then, I think our early believers like Antler and Huddle have been extremely supportive of our idea and our journey and have given us the freedom along with a lot of other networks and their valuable expertise.

Lastly, if there was a quote to define you, what would it be?
The phrase “The part emerges as you walk it so simply walk it” is something I resonate with the most. It simply means that sometimes in life, the way forward or the solution to a problem may not be clear at the beginning. However, as you take action and move forward, the path or solution will become clearer. So, the advice is to keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, and the way will reveal itself to you.

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