This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Penguin India. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Legendary Milkshake Maker ‘Keventers’ Has Kept Its Brand Alive For 100 Years!

More from Penguin India

The Keventers and the biscuits business were part of the second-generation inheritance and Agastya’s father got his share in it. But from all accounts, his father, Gun Nidhi Dalmia, was more keen on running the biscuit factory, as the product had built a loyal customer base under the brand of Dalmia Biscuits. The factory was in Punjab but the family decided to sell it during the 1980s. Militancy in the state was at its peak at that time and it was getting difficult to run the factory. It was not safe for the employees, the management or even the owners. So, the factory was sold and shut down. Back in Delhi, the Keventers factory had also been shut down a little earlier, but it was for a completely different reason.

Edward Keventer had established his dairy factory in Malcha Marg and when Dalmia bought the business, the factory continued to supply dairy products. “Back in the 1940s, Malcha Marg was on the outskirts of Delhi,” says Agastya. “So, you can imagine that after the 1960s it became a little difficult to operate a factory there,” he smiles impishly. “It became a diplomatic area and I guess the cows just didn’t fit in.”

Even after the Keventers factory shut down, there was one enterprising stockist in Connaught Place who continued to sell Keventers to the multitude of people who came to buy it. “Basically, this guy went ahead and continued to use our brand. He made his own milkshakes, put our name on it and sold it to people. My father was busy with other things but in spite of that, he got them shut down at least three times,” says Agastya. The family did think about Keventers occasionally, especially when people talked to them about buying Keventers flavoured milk from the Connaught Place outlet. “Everyone assumed it was our product,” laughs Agastya. So sometime in the mid-1980s, the Dalmias decided to file a lawsuit against the stockist. After many years of a court case, the matter was finally resolved in 2009 and the stockist had to change the name of his business.

“But we realized what the stockist had done when we relaunched Keventers milkshakes. Over the years, he’d had used his own formula and extra sugar. So when we started selling our own milkshakes, people didn’t like them. We could not understand it! They wanted more sugar and a stronger flavour,” says Agastya, shaking his head disbelievingly. “We did not want to do it but we had to make our shakes sweeter. Otherwise, people would not buy them. They kept saying – this is not Keventers!” he laughs incredulously. “Can you imagine? Telling the real Keventers that their product does not taste like the Keventers!”

Original Keventers! The flavoured milk that Delhi grew up with. Did Agastya use the original formula to make his milkshakes when he re-launched Keventers? I ask.

“When the factory shut down, no one thought of preserving anything, let alone the formula. These labels that you see,” he says waving his hands around, “were also found in some scraps lying somewhere. I guess no one realized or understood the value of all of this back then.” With a rueful smile, he says, “It would have been so wonderful if someone had preserved the formula. We would not have had to go through all this experimentation.”

The formula may not have been preserved but the brand has persevered thanks to the stockist. With the brand remaining in the public domain, did Agastya understand the value of the brand as he was growing up? “Not really,” he says, “The court case was going on and I was busy playing tennis and studying. So, the brand was somewhere at the back of our minds. But I never really thought about it while I was growing up.”

So how did he think about relaunching Keventers? “Actually, a good friend asked me what I planned to do with the Keventers brand after we won the case. I was happy playing tennis and business was the last thing on my mind. But when Aman asked me, I thought to myself—why not? Let’s do something with Keventers. It is as simple as that!”

And Aman Arora agrees. He says that the idea to relaunch Keventers ‘just came up.’ Having drunk the Keventers milkshakes all through his school life from the Connaught Place outlet, he felt that someone within the family had to keep the brand going, else the Keventers name would be lost. “Why not us?” says Aman. He and Agastya had known each other since college and they already had a business relationship. Delhi Street Football, a five-a-side football league on the lines of Futsal, had been Aman and Agastya’s first venture. It was quite successful but the two friends did not take it national. This time, when the two decided to collaborate again, they were both clear that this business was going to go national.

Agastya remembers all the discussions he had with Aman before working on the relaunch of Keventers. But even before that, I wondered, did Agastya need to take the extended family’s approval, considering that the brand had originally belonged to all of them?

“Not really,” he says and then explains that when the Malcha Marg factory land was sold to DLF, it was essentially the dairy business itself that was sold along with all brands and products. After the deal was done and the financial settlements within the Dalmia family completed, Agastya’s father asked DLF to transfer the Keventers trademark back to his name. “And DLF had no problem in giving it back,” says Agastya. After going out of the family for a brief time, the brand Keventers came back, this time as the property of Agastya’s father.

With the brand secure within the family, the two young friends sat together to work out what exactly they wanted to do with a 100-year-old brand. “There was no formal, structured discussion. I followed my gut a lot,” he said and decided that it was the Keventers milkshake (originally flavoured milk) that they would focus on. The reason for this, as he explains, was that Aman and he realized that neither of them had run a full-fledged business before. “Delhi Street Football did not count as we saw it as more of a hobby and less of a business,” he says. As they worked on a plan for an actual business, they wanted to keep it simple. “We decided that we would focus on only one product to start with and then see how the business developed,” he adds. And since the brand Keventers was almost synonymous with milkshakes, “It was a logical decision for us to go with milkshakes,” Agastya explains.


Excerpted from “The Inheritors: Stories of Entrepreneurship and Success” by Sonu Bhasin, published by Penguin India.

You must be to comment.

More from Penguin India

Similar Posts

By sukanya deogam

By Simran Poptani

By Nachi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below