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The Secret Sauce

In Focus
NAME:Viraj Bahl
POSITION:Founder & Managing Director
LOCATION:Delhi, India
From failed restaurateur to founder of one of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods brands in India, Veeba’s Viraj Bahl has breathed new life into the unsung hero of Indian food – the sauce. 

While we all like our food to be flavorsome, what’s rarely talked about is what makes it that way, says Viraj Bahl, Founder and Managing Director of Veeba. “People are more often concerned about the crumpled bun or the protein quantity, but the taste giver – the sauce – is the least talked about thing,” he tells The CEO Magazine.

It was while working in his previous restaurant business that Bahl learned about food, distribution and manufacturing. And it was during this time that he identified a significant gap between the existing products available and high-quality sauces and dips, prompting him to launch sauce and condiment brand Veeba.

Today, Veeba is one of the fastest-growing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in India, with 70 percent of its revenue generated from general trade or mom-and-pop stores. It also welcomes 92 percent of its business from distribution – the other eight percent is down to its B2B customers, which include Domino’s, Burger King and Yum! restaurants.

Lessons from Failure

Bahl says it was his failed stint as a restaurateur prior to founding Veeba that taught him the art of frugality. “At that time, I didn’t realize the best thing that was happening to me was my restaurant business failing,” he says. “The right expense at the right time – the lesson would never have come to me had I not failed in the restaurant business.”

After understanding what not to do, Bahl built Veeba on three key pillars: innovation, distribution and team. Now spanning across 700 cities and with almost 200,000 points of sale, Veeba has 85 stock-keeping units, many of which are unique to the company.

“When you have national ambition, your tagline should not be catering only to 60 percent of India, it should be catering to 100 percent of India.”

“Every company looks good in Delhi, Bombay [Mumbai], Bangalore [Bengaluru] and Pune. But Veeba’s strength is that we look just as good in Vellore, Madurai, Bathinda or Ludhiana. We look good in all the cities, and that is something no new age company has been able to do,” he says.

Once he cracked the distribution and product development for B2B customers, Bahl focused on empowering his team to do more. Letting go of power as the CEO proved to be more difficult than he thought, but he says it eventually allowed domain experts to take the company forward.

For Bahl, Veeba’s work culture is one of his proudest achievements, as it helps its employees achieve an all-important work-life balance. In recognition, the company was named among AmbitionBox Best Places to Work in India along with Best Mid-Sized FMCG Company in 2022.

The National Sauce

Such accolades are indicative of Veeba’s growth trajectory as the company works toward a goal of ‘national glory’.

When asked about the future, Bahl is refreshingly honest. “My dream is to be India’s most loved and fastest growing food company,” he explains. “I want to be loved. I want my company to be loved, I want my products to be loved. I take criticism so personally sometimes that it affects me. So I want to make the best products.”

In the last few years, Bahl has launched under parent company VRB Consumer Products, a trio of sister brands to Veeba: Bene Tibi, Tasty Pixel and Earthmade. He hopes to present a 2028 lineup consisting of five brands and seven categories.

“Veeba and Ingredion India have forged a mutually beneficial partnership, thriving together and driving innovation for consumer preferred products. This collaborative journey has been instrumental in propelling both Veeba and Ingredion India towards greater success.” – Ingredion India


The coming months, however, will see Veeba seek to shed its north-focused identity. Its tagline was originally in Hindi only and recently the company has overhauled its messaging to cater to a much broader audience.

“When you have national ambition, your tagline should not be catering only to 60 percent of India, it should be catering to 100 percent of India,” he insists. “We are now speaking to the entire country with the tagline ‘Veeba. Your food, your rules’.”

This pan-Indian goal is already on the right track, with Delhi now Veeba’s biggest city in terms of sales, Maharashtra its biggest state in terms of sales and the south now its biggest sales region.

An Invaluable Partner Network

Veeba’s massive distribution network would be impossible to achieve without an equally strong partner network. The company has hundreds of suppliers across levels and, to keep track of each of them, Bahl uses four qualifying parameters: dependability, service standards, pricing and innovations to sort them into four levels, with level one being the most critical.

Its very first supplier still works with the company, despite Veeba’s capacity and volumes having grown manifold. And, as revenue shrank by 95 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bahl says its suppliers stepped up to support Veeba by keeping the supply chain intact and offering flexible payment arrangements.

“I named the company after my mother. And for any married man, you get to know about the risk-taking capabilities from there.”

Despite navigating such challenges, Bahl says founding Veeba was not the biggest risk he’s taken to date – rather, it was actually his choice for the company name.

“Veeba is my mom’s name. I named the company after my mother. And for any married man, you get to know about the risk-taking capabilities from there,” he says mischievously.

For all his quips, his mother’s blessing may just be the secret sauce of the company’s success.

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