Gautam Provides Plant-based Sustenance 

What’s your story?
From a young age, I have read obsessively about nutrition and experimented with various diets. Even though I majored in computer science and started my career in management consulting, I’ve always found myself circling back to food and nutrition. I brewed and sold beer together with my friends in college. I sold ready-to-mix smoothie powder from plant-based whole foods, while  working at my day job, and I started a plant-based delivery restaurant, just over a year ago. Out of these, only the smoothie powder venture, Sustenance, worked out as a business. And I’ve been working on scaling it, for the past 2 years.

What excites you most about your industry?
I believe that the plant-based movement is going to be the biggest wave of our time. And, I believe that the world will be predominantly plant-based in the coming decades. It makes sense from multiple angles – sustainability, health and ethics. I think people will eat meat, dairy, fish and eggs far less often in the coming years. Working to build Sustenance, as a business, feels like I’m doing something beyond just building a brand to reap profits. I think facilitating a plant based diet helps customers lead healthier lives, as well as making the food industry more sustainable and ethical.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Indian by ethnicity, and a Singapore citizen. I’ve stayed in and been around Asia all my life.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! It’s very easy to start a company and manage the day-to-day administration. Companies can focus fully on the important stuff, like building a product or service, and selling it to customers. The government provides start-ups with extensive support in the form of grants and subsidies, so start-ups have better odds of attaining profitability.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Focus on small, incremental improvements. They add up to incredible results over time. This has worked in my personal life and in business.

Most people are stuck in a loop of getting frustrated with their lives, trying for drastic and unsustainable change, failing, then growing even more frustrated because they fell short again. Instead of doing this, I’ve found that focusing on small, manageable changes, and working them into routines or daily habits (or processes in the case of business), works wonders, over time, if you’re consistent in your efforts. 

The trick is to quantify and measure improvements, in the form of routine to-dos or checklists. This way, you can properly measure progress, instead of relying on how you feel day-to-day. Even 0.1% every week, compounded across many years, results in incredible progress.

Who inspires you?
Ray Dalio, author and hedge fund manager, and Tom Bilyeu, founder of Quest Nutrition. They have incredible bits of wisdom on growing yourself and your business. They’ve also built billion dollar businesses, so you can trust that they know what they’re talking about.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
As I touched on before, the concept of incremental improvement, and how much change we’re capable of, provided that we’re consistent in our efforts over a long enough period of time. 

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing comes to mind. Maybe try out for a team sport in secondary school – perhaps rugby or water polo.

How do you unwind?
Meditation works for me, 45 minutes every morning, and 15-30 minutes every evening. I also exercise a few times a week and like to go out for meals or drinks with friends and family.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali! I love the beaches, the food is great, and the massages are awesome.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Two books:

“Principles: Life and Work,” by Ray Dalio

“Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Shameless plug for your business:
Sustenance makes premium meal replacement shakes from plant-based, whole foods. Our shakes are 100% natural, and they’re free of any junk or harsh processing –  the fruits and vegetables we use in our shakes are freeze dried for maximum nutrient retention. These shakes work great as a nutritious breakfast, or a quick meal at work. They’re also great for people who are trying to lose weight, because they keep you full for very few calories, and they’re loaded with fiber and protein. You can go to https://sustenance.com.sg/ for more details! We deliver within Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me and drop me a note on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gautamparam/)
Or mail me at [email protected].

I’m very open to ideas on how we can work together.

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

Connect with Callum on Twitter and LinkedIn
Download free copies of his books at www.callumlaing.com