Start-up Story: What’s in the bottle?


February 7, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

What’s in the bottle? Chutneys, said BottledUp Co-founder Ashima Kakar

So, what’s in the bottle?

Chutneys, she said.

We are talking about UAE-based start-up BottledUp that specialises in chutneys – a spiced savoury spread that can be used as an accompaniment to any meal/snack. The chutneys are 100% natural, come in bold flavours, and, importantly, made in Dubai.

A brand that started as a passion project by two friends who love to cook and eat. The idea was simple. They wanted to add flavours to everyday meals in a simple and clean manner.

“We are from India and enjoy rich flavours. However, having lived outside of India for most of our lives, we always craved for bold flavours while developing a fondness for local/western ingredients. So, we decided to create a unique combination of the two. Taking age-old recipes from India and combining them with ingredients that are more commonly found in the Middle East and the West such as dates and green apples. That’s how BottledUp was born,” shared Co-founder Ashima Kakar.

Read more Start-up stories here.

How did the passion project turn into a business?

When BottledUp was chosen as a winner of the Spinneys incubator programme that launched in 2020. That was our first proof of concept. It took us 18 months to launch BottledUp with three SKUs initially.

Tell us about your business milestones achieved over the past 12 months.

We launched BottledUp with availability at Spinneys and Waitrose and within the first six months of launch we were identified as Top 10 brands within our category at both places. We have surpassed sales in comparison to our direct competitors and have captured 6% of the market share in our category. Currently we are available across seven platforms/ locations including physical stores and e-commerce platforms. We have established B2B collaborations with companies where we supply our spreads in bulk. We have also established a good network of partnerships with like-minded brands and run online collaborations with them. In addition, we have tied up with companies that take our products for corporate and bulk gifting. What’s more, we recently launched two new flavours based on customer feedback.

As a start-up what kind of challenges have you had to navigate? What did the hurdles teach you?

Every challenge taught us to be patient, persistent and optimistic. We launched BottledUp at the end of January 2022 as opposed to November 2021 as originally planned. Thus, we missed a majority of the gifting and festive season and had to be patient to make our mark. We focused on making our presence felt at markets, social media and networked and collaborated with established brands and constantly communicated with our customers.

When we initially thought of starting BottledUp scalability was a big hurdle. Supplying to a retail chain like Spinneys meant we had to produce and bottle in bulk and would need a facility that could do that. We hit several roadblocks along the way; however, we were and are always optimistic that we shall find a path to achieve our goal.

What is BottledUp’s growth outlook for 2023?

In 2023 we aim to grow our business by five times and to do so we have identified three ways of going about it:

  • Increase the range: We plan to increase the range of products available especially after seeing the response to the new flavours.
  • Distributor tie-ups: We are keen to tie up with distributors and explore the Middle East and GCC markets.
  • Corporate and consumer gifting: We are keen to tap into the gifting market especially now that we have a wide range of products.

Finally, tell us about one trend that you think will reshape your category.

Veganism! There is a global movement towards veganism. With Veganuary and World Vegan Day being celebrated in a big way we believe that this trend is here to stay.

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