Mumbai: “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others,” if Sarrah Kapasi’s career had to be summed up in one line, this would be apt.
As co-founder of D-Alive, Sarah’s association with diabetes progresses further. Her father, mentor and co-founder – Mr M. N. Kapasi has been type 1 diabetic for the last 25 years, who made him a company, which became an umbrella solution for people suffering from diabetes in India.
Sarrah, even at the age of 3, knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, taking after her father. Focused since the very beginning, she would often join her Dad at his firm on holidays, excited to learn new things about running businesses.
“My Dad never believed in education and wasting time on it. He said all successful people are dropouts. I didn’t drop out, but I also didn’t want to waste time in gaining irrelevant experience. I’ve learned everything (and continue to) on the job which is so much more fun,” says Sarrah.
In an interview with TheChronicle, Sarrah Kapasi spoke about the products by D-Alive how it is better than the best because it is created first for her father and then for everyone else, and that emotion sets her apart from other entrepreneurs.
After a lot of reading and R&D on himself, your father was able to reverse his health as if it had never worsened, would you share the glimpses of his journey to achieve this health goal?
My father’s dedication towards his health has always been tremendous. He followed every diet to the T that was given to him. Once he travelled and researched, he took others’ findings and applied it to himself to analyse results. He did a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) to see how various foods impacted his blood sugars. He learned that artificial sweeteners increased his insulin resistance, fats didn’t have much impact on blood glucose and in fact helped slower digestion of carbs organic food had lesser insulin requirement than otherwise, etc. It took a lot of dedication and discipline. He would never eat outside food (still doesn’t), even in weddings he would carry a “Dabba“.
You are the co-founder of Sugar Ki Bimari too. Could you brief about this online venture?
Sugar Ki Bimari was something Dad initiated and I took up immediately after college, even before work for D-Alive had started. It was his philanthropic initiative to discuss each other’s experiences for people suffering from diabetes and to create a platform to share it with better knowledge, awareness and, of course, health. Many people with diabetes feel isolated because it is seen as a stigma, so they keep it with it and doctors rarely have 5-10 minutes per patient. In such a scenario, a community can be very important and beneficial. And, Sugar Ki Bimari is our way of contributing to a cause so close to our hearts with no personal intentions. We propagate information through our platform to spread awareness.
Maai Ka Laddu, Roasted Peanut Laddu, Cashew Pistachio Praline and Energy Peak are the current products in the line of desserts. Followed by glucose gels?
Yes, we currently have these four ranges of sweets and three flavours of glucose gels. By the end of this month, we are adding three new flavours in the sweets namely – Walnut Peanut Butter Burfi, Til Ke Laddu, Fennel & Nut Laddu. We are also introducing a range of Sauces and Salad Dressings soon along with other categories in a phased manner.
Does stevia add in these taste the way how the traditional desserts taste? If yes, what is the magic behind this?
Yes, we do sweeten all our products with Stevia because it is the only most natural 0 GI medium. Although, as you correctly pointed out, it takes certain magic to make sure they taste like normal sweets without giving out the aftertaste or hollowness of Stevia. It took us 2 years of R&D to crack this part. It takes a lot of detail and proportioning of every ingredient we use to mask the shortfalls of Stevia. That being said, it feels like magic even when we know how to do it.
Innovative Modified Atmosphere Packaging technology is incorporated to enhance the shelf-life of these products. We would like to know about this technology which stands at a niche level than other packagings?
In very simple words, MAP essentially replaces the air in the container to eliminate any oxygen within before it is sealed. Once there is no oxygen, the microbial growth is inhibited. Mithais generally have a shelf-life of 3-4 days, on the other hand, we achieve a shelf-life of 3-6 months with absolutely no side-effect on health. The extended shelf-life has many benefits to trade as well as consumers.
What are the credentials of Miss Alifya Attarwala who manages the entire product development?
Alfiya Attarwala heads the product development team at D-Alive. She takes on leadership in the R&D, innovation, and operations of the company along with being the Food Safety Supervisor, ensuring complete quality control. We completed graduation in BBA from NMiMS University together, and share a great bond since then. She was quick to identify D-Alive as the beginning of her dream to build a business with a cause. Also, having a family background in the food industry and a go-getter personality makes Alfiya the perfect addition to D-Alive.
What is so special about D Alive in comparison to other brands which claim to be diabetic friendly?
D-Alive is from a diabetic to a diabetic. Which means that we know and have lived through the troubles and that’s why all our solutions come from the heart with absolutely no compromises. We give you the food we eat at home that makes us feel great, and we hope the same for our consumers.
Do you have any suggestions for people suffering from type 2 diabetes/ (adult onset lifestyle related)
Yes! Eat D-Alive products and follow the same lifestyle it is conceptualised around.
At present how many nutritionists apart from Miss Alifya Attarwala work under D alive?
We don’t have any nutritionists working with us. We consult a couple as and when needed. We have a leading diabetologist and his team to keep a constant check.
What are your thoughts on carbohydrates in the diet?
Carbohydrates impact blood sugars directly and trigger the production of insulin in the body, which is our primary weight gain (anabolic) hormone. The optimal insulin your body produces, the better off you are. Also, as all fats and proteins, all carbs too aren’t created equal, there are certain carbs that are essential and hence we do not blanket promote a low carb diet but instead a healthy balanced diet that is low in poor quality carbs.
Is D Alive a venture majorly for festive seasons or planning to spread out into the bigger market like how other brands like Keto kitchen, Food Darzi have come up, wherein a whole meal is customized for the clientele?
D-Alive is a company that wants to be synonymous with Diabetes. We want to make sure we have products that are a solution to some or the other need making us an umbrella brand. We aim to do packaged foods, OTC solutions and accessories under the brand. And no, we are not limited to festive seasons, we only launch new product lines closer to festive seasons to keep our consumers excited and connected.
Diabetes is a controversial topic. What do you have to say on it’s reversibility?
Type 1 Diabetes has no cure yet. While Type 2 Diabetes with the right diet and lifestyle can definitely be reversed, and there are many examples of such people who have.