Mumbai, 27th March 2023: Homegrown ice cream brand NOTO has raised 2 million USD in pre-series A funding led by investors White Whale Ventures and Rainmatter.
Previously, the brand had raised ₹4 crores in a funding round led by investors such as Titan Capital, Rockstud Capital, VCAT (Venture Catalysts), Bollywood actor and producer John Abraham, WEH Ventures, and other angel investors. Since its inception, the brand has been satisfying the sweet cravings of many Indians with its low-calorie ice creams and fruit popsicles. Now with funding, the company aims to strengthen its foundation in existing markets as well as tap into the vast market in tier-1 and tier-2 cities. Besides that, NOTO will also be working toward new product development and building on the core team. Currently, the company has an ARR of 35 crores and is targeting an ARR of 50 crores by the end of the summer. The company has indeed grown by leaps and bounds and is being led by a workforce of more than 200 people.
“Consumers today are more conscious about their diet and are unable to find healthier alternatives to indulgent categories. NOTO has carved a niche in the ice cream market, offering low-calorie, guilt-free ice creams with an uncompromising focus on taste. Through a combination of great products, attractive packaging, and affordable pricing, NOTO has garnered a loyal customer base and built a strong brand in a short period of time. We are excited to be on board Varun and Ashni’s journey in creating a serious dent in the ice cream market in India.” says Shapath Parikh, partner at White Whale Ventures, a multi-asset investment manager focusing on venture capital and listed equities in India.
“What we’ve realized at Rainmatter is that it’s not reasonable to expect people to stop bingeing on things they love. Instead, the better thing to do is to make healthier alternatives easily available. That’s what we love about NOTO, and we’re excited to join them on this journey,” says Nithin Kamath, director of Rainmatter Foundation.
The brand was founded in 2019 by the husband-wife duo Ashni and Varun Sheth. A paradise for ice cream lovers, NOTO brings forth delicious ice creams with a healthy twist! This is a market that is dominated by many national and international players, such as Amul, Baskin Robbins, Havmor, Vadilal, and more; however, that hasn’t stopped NOTO from becoming a force to be reckoned with. The company is now on track to become profitable by FY24 and aims at strengthening its distribution via digital channels and making a bigger impact all over India. As of now, NOTO is available in more than 5 cities, which include Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Chennai, Nagpur, Jaipur, Mangalore, etc. Also, NOTO is available for on-demand delivery on order.eatnoto.com and on food delivery platforms such as Swiggy, Zomato, Instamart, Zepto, and BBnow, in addition to being in gourmet stores across the country. The company operates on a hyper-local dark store model, which allows them to cater to impulse demand within 30–40 minutes. NOTO solely runs and manages all dark stores across five cities and, hence, is able to give the best product experience to the customer.
Besides that, the company has also decided on keeping its product mix dynamic based on customer feedback, establishing a strong distribution network, and working towards maintaining clear, honest communication in order to stay relevant and stand out from its competition in the market.
“NOTO was born to revolutionize the way people consume sweets. It’s a common myth that if it’s easy on the calories, it’s not going to satiate those taste buds. We aim to disrupt this misconception one dessert at a time. Finding the sweet spot between taste and health has been the brand’s mission, and they’ve achieved it by ensuring each scoop is just as creamy and satiating as regular ice cream.
With over 6 categories ranging from fruity popsicles to mini bites of ice cream to a vegan range and even traditional Indian mithai, NOTO is for everyone who wants to make healthy living a lifestyle,” says Ashni Sheth, the co-founder and marketing and communications head of NOTO. She is a communications major from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and design alumni from Istituto Marangoni, Milan.
The story of NOTO began when Varun Sheth, NOTOs co-founder, and product development head, came face-to-face with his battle of curbing his sweet cravings in a bid to manage his weight. “It got me thinking — life’s real joy is in that extra scoop to celebrate your friend’s promotion, a cupcake too many on your birthday, or more than a generous helping of cake just because. We shouldn’t have to give up on that. We Indians have a strong sweet craving, but we also wish to cut down on our sugar intake for health reasons. That’s when the idea of starting a brand that provides a healthier, guilt-free alternative hit us,” says Varun, who holds a degree in Culinary Arts from New York.
NOTO’s main mission is to spread happiness with its healthy yet tasty desserts. Each 125-ml tub of ice cream has 75–95 calories, 3 grams of fat, 75% less sugar, and more protein compared to regular ice creams. The ice creams are made of high-quality ingredients and are available in a variety of flavors, such as Dark Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate, Blueberry, Strawberry, Mangoes &Cream, Salted Caramel, and lots more. Then there is also a range of fruit popsicles that have zero added sugar and are made with 40% real fruit (unsweetened), apple concentrate (not the one that comes in a tetra pack), vitamin C, and prebiotic fiber. The selection includes flavors like Strawberry Raspberry, Kala Jamun, Orange, Piña Colada, and Mango Coconut.
NOTO also has a delightful range of vegan frozen desserts with zero added sugar and made with almond protein, in addition to ice creams and popsicles. This is because vegan is a rapidly growing category, contributing upwards of 30%. Then there are the ‘Mini Bites of Ice Cream,’ which are a crowd favorite. A divine combination of creamy ice cream coated with crunchy dark chocolate, each Bitecarries 30 calories and has zero added sugar. Finally, it’s difficult to resist NOTO’s delectable range of Indian mithais, which are made by halwais using age-old traditional techniques and the purest ingredients, all while adhering to our promise of bringing you low-calorie sweet treats with ZERO added sugar.
“When we started NOTO, it was a blank canvas; creating awareness for the category was challenging but also very fulfilling. As founders, we were present at every front-facing event or point of sale to understand and converse with our potential customers. It gave us tremendous insight into behavioral and consumption patterns, which in turn helped us tailor our strategy and communication,” says Varun.
NOTO has a lot in the works, both in terms of product and geographical expansion, and the brand is determined to become a one-stop shop for all ‘good for you’ desserts.
“There is no set formula or key to success when one starts an entrepreneurial journey. It’s a balancing act of passion and reality: being agile enough to understand what the market needs and, most importantly, listening to your consumers. It’s important to celebrate milestones irrespective of how small or big they may be,” says Ashni.