Meet Amit Mehta!
Name: Amit Mehta
Hometown: Bombay, India
Current Residence: Bombay, India
1) How and when did you start trail running?
I’ve been hiking and trekking the mountains for as far as I can remember. I started road running around 2014 thanks to my wife, and that leg turnover just transitioned into the trails when I went for my next hike. Since then, the mountains have never been the same!
2) Your wife Monica is also a runner. How did you two meet?
Monica and I met in 2008 at University. We were both in the MBA program at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. I followed her on her way home, started chatting with her, only to realize both of us lived in the same apartment complex. We got together during orientation week and it’s been 12 years now. I’m blessed to have met her.
3) How did Unived get started?
The seeds of health were planted way back when I was (a terrible student) in school as I searched for a healthier diet for myself. I graduated with an MBA here in the US, and also with the passion of fitness and endurance, and knowledge of food & nutrition. I could either encash on my degree and get a job and follow that path -- or pursue my passion of health & nutrition, and take a few risks. Of course, I chose the latter. The risk to put all of this together was taken in 2010, and everything started with just a raw idea, fueled by passion and desire. I wanted to do something ‘creative’, which I define as ‘producing something original, of true value’.
I remember when we launched our first product in 2012, I placed it in 5 stores near my home. My office is a 40 min drive from my house, so I figured if I had to visit the stores after work, it would be best they be close to home. I would call the store owners from work, ask them how the products were selling, and then tell them that I was going to send my salesman to check shelf placement and handover some samples. Later in the evening, I’d get home, change into some old clothes, and headover to the stores telling them my boss sent me over to check shelf placement and handover samples. It worked. I learned first hand what needed to be done at the store level, and those initial learnings have been invaluable as the business has grown. I have many more true stories like this one!
4) What sets it apart from other running fuels?
All our products are researched and developed by us, and are manufactured in-house by us at a 100% Vegan facility. We do not outsource anything, we do not have co-packers. We’ve walked this path alone, without any investors, nor any borrowings. Our growth has been 100% organic, and through basic grass-roots efforts.
We refused to pick up the low-hanging fruit, and instead, pushed our minds to be creative with our formulations and product concepts. We became the first company in India to introduce the following products - Algae DHA, Algae Calcium, plant-based D3 Pea protein, endurance fuel, endurance gels, endurance butters, and more.
5) How do you come up with ideas for your products?
Product ideas typically come at odd times - in the shower, on a run, during a race, through customer feedback, in intense group meetings, and so on. The process from ideation to a finished pack that you as a consumer hold in your hand, is a long one. Sometimes it’s a few months, sometimes a few years.
For example, we began discussing the concept of our Elite Gel with Hayden Hawks back in 2017. The product went through lots of different versions, the formulation changed many times, prototypes were tested in multiple training and race setting. Everything was finally concluded in 2019. It took two years, lots of involvement by many of our Elite athletes, thousands of samples, tweaks, and variations. What resulted, is a breakthrough product, a gel with a 2:1 ratio and 190kcal. It’s been tremendously well received and consumers absolutely love it. In fact, we’ve recently opened up distribution in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, and the UK!
6) You frequently travel back and forth between India and the US. How do these two trail running communities/trail scenes compare?
I am fortunate to be able to travel and experience various communities. The trail running scene in India is young and growing. Our mountains are raw and untamed, wild at times, and it’s a party and an opportunity for people to get away from the crazy-busy cities and enjoy nature for a while.
The US has a well established trail community. Access to trails is easier, a lot of them are well marked and safe, and there are plenty of races to choose from. They say love is a universal language, as is trail-running. We’ve had a few US athletes visit and run races here, and the collective joy and passion for the mountains seamlessly integrates both communities.
7) For runners planning a trip to India, which trail races should be at the top of their lists?
I’d say the top three races in India are these: The Malnad Ultra, Vagamon UlTrail, and SRT Ultra. Unived is part of all three, and if anyone is keen to visit I’m happy to guide them on how best to plan the trip.
8) Favorite post-run treat?
The Unived Elite Drink Mix - by far, my personal favourite product from our lineup.
9) What’s your next race/adventure?
Next up is a 42k Skyrace in June in the magnificent Sahyadri mountain range, which is a couple of hours drive from Bombay.