Interview with Ahana Gautam, co-founder OpenSecret

Ahana is a Harvard Business School and IIT Bombay alum with experience in marketing and passion to build and grow consumer brands. She is the founder and CEO of OpenSecret, a brand that is making un-junking fun and eating healthy tasty.

1. One of the unfortunate things about having a business-oriented mindset is that we’re creative people. People often call us “the jack of all trades.” Every day, we come up with new business ideas and how we can go about implementing them as soon as possible.How Did You Know When You Had The Right Idea?

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur to make a difference in the world. I found my passion of building consumer brands early on in my career. Just loved the way brands touch and improve the lives of millions of consumers every single day.

Over the years as I worked across different continents with P&G and General Mills, I kept on refining the idea. As a daughter of a working mother, I saw first-hand the struggle that families face in providing healthy yet convenient options for their children. This struggle transcends generations and today I see my sister in law experience the same challenges with my niece. No doubt India was found to have one of the most unhealthy packaged food in the world. As soon as I identified that there is a large enough problem to solve, I decided to quit my job and solve for this mother’s guilt”. 

2. CPG brands eventually get bought out by bigger labels that learn to leverage their distribution channels, or their assets to create strong businesses. How does that affect your vision for your company?

There has been a fundamental shift in the way consumers are buying brands which has been accelerated by COVID – significant increase in grocery ecommerce penetration, rise in the number of DTC brands and a shift towards health and wellness. As a result, the reliance on traditional channel of distribution is decreasing. We are solely focused on reimagining the entire value chain of the CPG industry. Companies which are not going to innovate will eventually fall behind”. 

3.What’s Your Approach To Marketing?

Be obsessed with the customer. Your customer is your true north star. We do not call ourselves online or offline-first brand, we are here to create a customer-first brand”. 

4. The product embodies the value system of the team behind it. Jobs talked about the product being an extension of the self. What values or experiences inspired you to create this product matrix?

At Open Secret, it’s a priority for us to live up to our core values of care, learning, purpose and integrity. We are creating a purpose driven brand which goes beyond just the product to inspire our consumers to live a more wholesome life. Through Open Secret, our customers can unlock the known secrets of eating healthier via our product and connecting in a more personalized manner by writing a handwritten note via our packaging.  Beyond being an authentic yet fun brand for families, purpose reflects in everything that we do – from focusing on a culture of empathy and care at work to ensuring that we are doing our bit in empowering women, who comprise more than 50% of our manufacturing workers”. 

5. Accomplishing great things requires a class-A team. How Did You Build Your Team?

Really proud of the team that we have built – a group of highly passionate individuals with the ideal combination of expertise who are committed to creating a dent in the snacking space.

We believe culture is the biggest enabler in scaling up. As we are growing rapidly, we are focused on hiring people who are going to be a strong cultural fit in the long run”. 

6.What’s the one thing you would like to share with upcoming women entrepreneurs?

Focus on being a kickass entrepreneur and not a kickass women entrepreneur. You do not need to emphasize on the prefix before the word “entrepreneur”. Just focus on being the best version of you”. 

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