Asmara's beverages and elixirs are great for health and uniquely Singaporean
Singapore is home to many different cultures and traditions and with that comes herbal and medical systems such as. These medical practices play an important part in the creation of Asmara's "proudly Singaporean" and "food scientist curated" beverages.
Asmara harnesses the scientific elements from TCM, Ayurveda, and Jamu along with clinical breakthroughs to curate products using herbs, flowers, fruits, roots, para-probiotics, and prebiotics. The startup's award-winning beverages and elixirs are developed by food scientists and herbalists for targeted nutrition.
Some of the functions of the drinks include promoting immunity, relaxation and focus and skin health.
One of our inspirations was to create something very unique and Singaporean. What makes Singapore unique is that there are four different cultures in the country, and it is very rare for you to find four cultures in one bottle, like what we have done.
Asmara was founded by Ramesh and Pin Da. The co-founders were university classmates in 2010, studying food technology at Massey University in New Zealand.
While both food scientists, Ramesh also oversees Asmara’s product development, marketing, and business development, while Pin Da oversees the operations, logistics, quality, and safety.
Passion at the root of Asmara's existence
According to Ramesh, passion is extremely important in starting a business. The Managing Director of Asmara shared that he had always wanted to be a healer or a doctor since young, and thus delved deeply into sociology, psychology, traditions, cultures, and ancient practices of healing such as TCM and Ayurveda.
Despite that, he was a "below-average" student and "scored terribly" in primary and secondary school. He realised that his academic results were not good enough to pursue medicine, and thus thought of making a difference in people's lives by trying to understand food and nutrition to influence the health of people.
He therefore decided to pursue food science and nutrition as a proper academic path. From traveling 2-3 hours by public transport to get to Temasek Polytechnic where he attained a diploma in Food Science and Nutrition to graduating with a Masters degree in Food Science and Technology, Ramesh shared that it would not have been possible without his passion for the topic.
You have to be passionate about what you’re doing. If you lack the passion or lack the interest in what you are doing, it is not going to sustain you for a very long period of time.
Growing up, food was also a constant topic in Ramesh's household as his father was a culinary chef and his mother a fantastic cook. Thus, he had a lot of exposure to various spices and ingredients, which he would later use in the development of Asmara's drinks.
The building of a brand
Within a year, Asmara had grown from a relatively "unknown" brand to one that has received organic coverage on the country's major newspapers, to television interviews and a growth in traction.
Each and every brand is pinned together by fabrics of struggles and sacrifices. These struggles redefine a brand and its creators. The same goes for Asmara.
The duo did not have any prior business background before starting Asmara, and thus had to figure out the operations of a business from scratch. They shared that "blood, sweat, and sleepless nights" were spent to create the products that they have today, and the products had to be continuously cared for like a "newly-born child".
Whilst trying to create a brand from scratch, the two founders also had to juggle their full-time jobs, resulting in burnouts, 3am nights and 7am mornings, and a whole lot of stress.
According to Pin Da, whilst he was working as a scientist in the food industry, he spend most of this time focused on the development of a product. He was typically unable to relish in the success of the final commercialised product that he played a huge part in creating. Thus, being able to create and market a product has been one of his "greatest satisfactions" so far, despite the sleepless nights.
Now, Asmara's beverages and elixirs can be found at various places across the island, from food chains like Cedele, Carrotsticks and Cravings Cafe, and Gardenasia and speciality stores like Scoop Australia, and on e-commerce sites like Redmart, Lazada, FitLion, Teapasar, and Shopee.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 struck just as they were about to supply to more big names. Asmara already had plans to supply to one of the biggest casinos and top restaurants, but there contracts were reversed when the Circuit Breaker was announced.
Instead of pushing for the sales of the product during that period, the team pivoted to education and consulting. Being food scientists, both founders know the area of food-wellness best, and thus decided to make videos to bring awareness about food to the community.
Moving forward, the team already has a whole list of products in the pipeline. The immediate plan is to launch four different types of herbal synbiotic powder blends, food-grade 100% natural cosmetics, co-branded health tea with a social enterprise for important causes, and health functional cacao beverages. These powders can be added into food or drinks, and have different health functions and properties.
Refuel was founded to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs through the stories of startup founders. We aim to build a global community of entrepreneurs and innovators, and hustle on together.
We hope you liked the story! If you have any requests for startups to feature, questions on entrepreneurship, or just simply want to chat, feel free to drop us a line at email@example.com, on Facebook or Instagram!