The Lemonilo instant noodle

As a curated marketplace for healthy food and beauty products, Lemonilo provides a platform for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to sell their products, which range from organic snacks, multivitamins, nature-based cosmetics, essential oils, to even catering services.

But apart from the online marketplace, the West Jakarta-based startup also produces its own line of health food products, with products that include Indonesia’s favourite guilty pleasure: Instant noodles.

“At first, quite a lot of people are confused —why we promote instant noodle as a part of a healthy lifestyle? The answer is actually unique to Indonesia. Currently, at least one Indonesian consumes a pack of instant noodle in a week,” explains Lemonilo COO Ronald Wijaya.

“This fact, combined with another fact that a pack of regular instant noodle contains many synthetic materials that adversely affect the body if consumed regularly, can have a negative impact on Indonesians’ general health conditions in the long term,” he adds.

But changing a habit is hard enough. So the startup chooses to begin by disrupting something that the public is already familiar with; especially since various reports have named hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases as the leading cause of death in the country.

These diseases are all strongly related to an unhealthy diet.

“It’s actually quite obvious that instant noodle is the a type of product that needs to be disrupted first —so we can help Indonesians to become healthier easily and in an affordable way, without pushing it too far,” says CIO Johannes Ardiant.

“Technology is the key that enables us to find the right formulas for many products and to further introduce the products to market,” he continues.

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Since its launch in 2017, Lemonilo already produces its own fried instant noodle and virgin coconut oil, with more products coming up.

Other products that are sold on their marketplace also have to follow certain criteria, such as being free from their list of more than 100 harmful synthetic materials.

Left to right: Lemonilo co-founders Johannes Ardiant, Shinta Nurfauzia, Ronald Wijaya

The startup was founded by Ardiant, Wijaya, and Shinta Nurfauzia (CEO), who were graduates of Harvard University and University of Michigan.

It is the result of a pivot of a healthtech startup named Konsula, which had raised a seed funding round from East Ventures in October 2015.

The Lemonilo team is currently run by 30 people. In order to support the production of its own line of health products, the startup employs a team of food technologists and nutritionists, and teams up with several SMEs to support the manufacturing of the products.

The startup recognises that there are two main reasons why Indonesian consumers do not buy healthy food products, despite having enough awareness on the importance of maintaining their health through a healthy diet.

According to a survey to 300 respondents that Lemonilo has done, not only that consumers are looking for a product that suits their palate, they are also looking for products that are affordable and easy to obtain.

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In Indonesia, the price of natural products on the market can reach up to 200 per cent more expensive than similar unhealthy products, leading the startup to believe that their line of healthy food products should not be 30 per cent more expensive at the maximum.

Lemonilo aims to solve the issue with the cost by implementing big data to create sales forecast, predicting the type of products that are needed by the market. Their production team will then construct a formula of the product before handing it to their partner SMEs to manufacture.

This process helps the SMEs to produce only the products that are needed by the market, eventually achieving affordability.

CEO Shinta Nurfauzia says that Lemonilo aims to grow its business by launching 50 to 75 stock keeping units (SKUs) per year.

“This is possible because our product R&D and launch cycles are much faster than ordinary FMCG cycles, as a result of combining technology and SME resources,” she explains.

For the year 2018, Lemonilo plans to introduce even more products on its line of healthy food. It is also planning to improve customer experience, in addition to launching new projects.

In terms of funding, having raised their seed funding round from East Ventures and several angel investors, the startup is currently raising their next funding round and expects to close them “soon.”

Images Credit: Lemonilo