University of Southern California

The Nutty Gritty of Business
Dinika Bhatia '09 has Developed a Thriving Food Company Based in India
May 31, 2012 • by News at Marshall

Just a few months after graduating from the USC Marshall School of Business, Dinika Bhatia '09 launched a brand of processed and packaged nuts called Nutty Gritties. Within the first year of starting DRB Foods Pvt. Ltd., that brand was placed in most of the top retail chains in India.

"This is absolutely unheard of," said Bhatia. "Brands that are five-or six-years-old are still trying to get into the retail chains where we got smooth entry."

"After seeing this growth trajectory and passion in my work in the first year of our business, Progressive Grocer, one of the leading food magazines in India, recognized us as one of the Top 10 fastest-growing snack food companies in India, along with prestigious names like HUL, Haldiram’s and Pepsi, which are multinational companies, and over 100 times bigger than us," Bhatia added.

An extension of her family’s business of importing and wholesaling dry fruit, nuts and spices, Nutty Gritties are healthy, dry-roasted, spiced nuts in convenient snack packs. Bhatia, who majored in business administration with a double concentration in strategic management and entrepreneurship, worked on a business plan for the company in two entrepreneurship courses at Marshall. During her senior year, her plan was awarded in the top 10 out of nearly 60 students.

"My education at Marshall truly laid the foundation of going out in the real world," Bhatia said. "It was the support and guidance from my professors, real-world case studies, guest speakers, networking and constant interaction with students and professors that helped me hone my business and networking skills. When I returned to India, I was a much more confident, passionate and focused person, and knew how to get my work done through my networking."

In addition to classes with Thomas Knapp, associate director of the Greif Center and assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, and Patrick Henry, assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, Bhatia mentioned that a Global Strategy course with Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organization at USC Marshall, was particularly helpful in providing the real-world experience that enabled her to launch Nutty Gritties quickly and successfully.

"You can’t help but be proud of her," said Voigt. "In some ways, she’s just the absolute epitome of everything that our USC Marshall undergraduate program stands for, which is dream big dreams, use your initiative, take some risks, be entrepreneurial, be global and aspire to make a difference."

Bhatia’s entrepreneurial journey has made an impression in the industry in various ways. Nutty Gritties was designated "The Most Innovative Product" at the UpperCrust Food and Wine Show in Mumbai in 2010. And Bhatia was recently recognized by Walmart-India as one of the up-and-coming women entrepreneurs in India. As part of that honor, she was invited to share her experiences with the entire staff of Walmart.

"I was applauded several times in the middle of my speech," Bhatia recalled. "The CEO Raj Jain asked me after how I have been able to reach to this level, and I said, "We all have challenges at work, especially as entrepreneurs, but looking at them as opportunities rather than obstacles is what really turns the picture around."

"This accolade inspired me to grow even more, further exploit my potential," added Bhatia, "not only for myself, but for others out there who are looking for inspiration."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.