My Beekeeping Odyssey with Le Organica
In a world that often feels as busy as a beehive, I dared to enter the realm of honeyed ambitions. I am
Srujan Kotum, the mind behind Le Organica, and I'm here to take you on a journey that is as sweet as it
is buzzing with innovation. Let's dive into the delightful dance of entrepreneurial fervor that has shaped
My journey into the enchanting world of beekeeping wasn't just a career pivot; it was a soul-stirring
metamorphosis. Rewind a few years, and you'll find me entrenched in the corporate hustle of the
scorching heat of Dubai in the Gulf. I spent over a decade running from pillar to post, peddling a
seemingly lifeless website to clients in the startup realm. It was a demanding chapter of my life, marked
by the relentless pursuit of success in a corporate landscape that often felt as relentless as the desert
My escape from the corporate labyrinth led me through a series of odd jobs, including stints in BPOs,
where the buzz of the call center floor replaced the boardroom banter. The search for fulfillment took
unexpected turns, and it wasn't until 2016 that my perspective on life and career underwent a seismic
shift. It was in this transformative year that beekeeping—a seemingly simple yet profoundly impactful
vocation—was introduced to me.
In the hustle of city life, amidst the chaotic streets of Bombay, 2016 became the turning point when Le
Organica was born. Starting from a modest apartment, I began importing small quantities of Lakadong
turmeric, honey, and loofahs sourced from families and friends in Meghalaya. The initial approach was
as grassroots as it gets—distributing and promoting these treasures without any flashy labels. Our
canvas was painted through connections with Home, Restaurant, and Catering (HORECA). establishments, along with showcasing our offerings in small expos nestled within gated communities.
My journey into the enchanting world of beekeeping didn't start with a grand revelation. Instead, it
began with the gentle hum of inspiration. Picture this: armed with a beekeeper's suit and a pocketful of
bee puns, I ventured into the beekeeping domain. Little did I know that this foray into apiculture would
unfold into a symphony of sweetness, complete with a few unexpected stings of wisdom.
Le Organica wasn't built in a day, and it certainly wasn't all smooth sailing. There were moments when I
questioned whether I was bee-ing too ambitious. But in the grand tradition of trial and error, I
discovered that every setback was just a chance for a bee-coming comeback. I've learned that in the
world of bees, just as in business, you need a certain buzz, and no better buzz than creating an idea out
of a cubical of your existing office.
The true metamorphosis occurred when a renowned chef, captivated by the potency and quality of our
honey, uttered words that resonated deeply. The revelation that our honey held higher value than its
current price point spurred Le Organica to rethink, repackage, and reimagine its entire approach. With a
compliment as sweet as our honey, we shifted our base to Shillong, opening our first brick-and-mortar
This transition marked more than just a location change; it was a commitment to the local
community. Le Organica became more than a brand; it became a beacon for change. We started hiring
locals from Shillong and Meghalaya, fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship and encouraging the youth to
venture into the world of food processing. Our business model evolved into a farmer-connect approach,
where the team and I actively engaged with farmers and beekeepers across different districts and
villages of Meghalaya.
As we deepened our roots, our product portfolio expanded organically. We found ourselves categorizing
our offerings into three pillars—food, wellness, and ethical practices. Each product was a testament to
the rich biodiversity of Meghalaya, from the vibrant hues of Lakadong turmeric to the golden sweetness
of our honey. Le Organica was no longer just about selling products; it was about creating a movement,
a harmonious blend of commerce and conscience.
After reveling in the success of our retail distribution across pan India, with Le Organica products
adorning the shelves of over 110+ stores and flourishing collaborations with like-minded brands, we
found ourselves at a crossroads. The winds of change whispered a new direction, urging us to pivot and
reassess our path in the wake of an industry-shifting revelation.
On December 2, 2020, the landscape of the honey industry in India was forever altered by a
groundbreaking report from the Center for Science & Environment. This investigation into honey
adulteration uncovered a startling truth—10 out of 13 major honey brands in India were incorporating
rice and sugar syrups imported from China, processing them further for consumption in India. This
revelation wasn't just a ripple; it was a seismic wave that shook the very foundations of the honey
For Le Organica, this report was not just a matter of market dynamics; it was a call to action that
resonated with our commitment to integrity and ethical practices. Faced with a pivotal moment, we
made a conscious decision to redefine our course. Our pivot was not about survival; it was about setting
a new standard—a beacon of transparency, purity, and ethical sourcing in the honey industry. The
report catalyzed introspection, a catalyst that fueled our resolve to provide consumers not
just with honey but with trust in every jar.
In recognition of our dedication to ethical practices and sustainable beekeeping, Le Organica received a
prestigious grant from the Central Government of India under its NECTAR Bee Mission Program. This
transformative initiative allowed us to upscale our efforts and establish our pilot bee farms. Our
journey took root in a 3-acre farm, where approximately 50 colonies of bee boxes thrived under the Le
Organica Habitat Project—a cluster bee farm with a dual mission: the conservation of Apis Cerana Bees
and the production of top-quality, rigorously tested natural honey.
As we stand at the intersection of past accomplishments and present endeavors, Le Organica has
evolved into more than a brand; it's a testament to the power of ethical entrepreneurship and the
resilience of a community-driven vision. Our products, once humble offerings without labels, now stand
proudly as ambassadors of Meghalaya's biodiversity, ethical beekeeping, and the unwavering
the commitment of our diverse team.
Our journey through ethical sourcing and sustainable practices has garnered recognition not only from
our loyal customers but also from the industry and the government. Le Organica continues to be a
torchbearer of purity, as testified by our stringent quality checks and certifications. Each jar of honey
tells a story—a story of a journey that goes beyond the buzzing hives, beyond the rolling hills of
Meghalaya, and straight to the hearts of those who choose a sustainable, conscious lifestyle.
Looking ahead, the future for Le Organica is not just a continuation but an expansion of our
commitment. Our journey in ethical beekeeping has laid the groundwork for innovative projects,
community collaborations, and further strides in conservation. We envision a landscape where our
efforts ripple beyond the borders of Meghalaya, inspiring a nationwide movement towards sustainable
practices and mindful consumption.
One of our key initiatives is to foster greater awareness about the importance of ethical sourcing in the
honey industry. Le Organica aims to be at the forefront of educating consumers about the significance of
knowing where their food comes from and the impact of their choices on the environment. Through
workshops, awareness campaigns, and strategic partnerships, we aspire to create a paradigm shift in
consumer consciousness, prompting a demand for transparency and purity in the market.
Capacity Building and Scaling Up:
In the past year, Le Organica has been steadfast in its commitment to capacity building, transcending
the boundaries of our bee farms. In a strategic move to expand our impact, we've partnered with
lease farms to scale up the number of hives. The goal is ambitious—between 500 to 1000 installations of
bee boxes by the second quarter of 2024 resulting in a production capacity of 1-2 Ton of Honey per
Harvest apart from the bi-products which are value-added.
This ambitious scaling is not merely a numerical target; it's a disruptive move in the market. Recognizing
the price sensitivity of the Indian consumer market, Le Organica is poised to challenge existing norms.
Our focus is clear; disrupt the market while maintaining the highest standards of honey quality and
providing unparalleled transparency in our products.
Le Organica's vision is inspired by the giants in the industry like Amul and Tata. With a commitment to
cooperative farming societies, we are not just building a brand; we are crafting a movement. By
empowering local communities, fostering transparency, and disrupting market dynamics, we aim to set
a precedent for ethical beekeeping and sustainable practices in the Indian honey industry.