In today’s world, food has become larger than life itself — it is an art, a means of innovation and creativity, it is an enterprise and a venture, it is a passion and a celebration of people, cultures and nationalities. As food takes on multiple forms enjoying the emotions associated with food, and respecting food as it needs to be are the founders of the venture ‘FoodTribe’.
Meet the two women at the helm, Sowmya Prathasarathy and Diksha Jain. Armed with their love of food and a common goal, these two have set out to bring to the world food which is fresh, preservative-free and in its authentic form.
Born and raised in Chennai, Sowmya made a career in the ad film industry in Chennai and Mumbai as an associate director and as an ad film consultant. It was motherhood that made her conscious of her food choices. “As a mother, the food we ate and fed the toddler, made me naturally more cautious of food coming out of restaurant chains. I felt more comfortable asking my neighbour to make the sambar powder for me rather than buying it off the shelf. I preferred buying hummus from a seasoned home cook rather than the imported kinds brimming with preservatives,” she says.
Diksha, a Marwari by birth, loves gorging on South Indian Food! Born and brought up in Chennai, she totally belongs to the ‘nad’ than anywhere in the world. She says, “I never wanted to follow the norm of studying B.Com and getting married and being a housewife. That’s the reason I took up Media in my college and then fell in love with it!” She started her career in event management and then dabbled a bit in advertising too.
One thing led to another and with a move to Bangalore, Sowmya reconnected with her friend Diksha and both of them spent hours talking about their love for food and spent endless hours in the kitchen because they wanted food that was “fresh” and made in the most authentic way possible!
Post my conversations with them, I have reason to believe that their lives are food centric as exhibited by the passion they bring to their work.
As per Sowmya, if there is one language that she would pride herself of being comfortable speaking in, it has to be food. She says,
I think my love for food is deeply genetic. It’s crazy the way most of us in my family talk about recipes and food, good and the bad ones even if it is on a hospital bed! We are what we eat, and what you eat says a lot about who you are as a soul/person!
To Diksha, food is like oxygen and if it’s not fresh then it isn’t doing any good! For her, the more natural and fresh the food, the better it is for you.
Given their love for food, it was natural that they branched out into the food industry. They say, “At some point we had to, although we never thought of us ‘starting up’ so seriously. It almost seemed like a natural progression from our daily routine. ‘Food’ seems to be a religion on its own and we seriously wanted to provide people with an option that was ‘good’ for them even if we sound preachy while saying so.”
Diksha claims that the entrepreneur in her is to do with her genes. FoodTribe is her second venture technically. Diksha says, “Our lives revolve around food. I use fresh food for all the three meals. Everyone should have fresh food. If you do not want to be cooking it we have an alternative for you.”
FoodTribe is an online store curating the most qualitative products from independent food artisans. It is a dream of providing a platform for food that will be accepted for its purity and authenticity.
These two food lovers with a common goal have identified lesser known but highly passionate food makers in the country who go to great lengths to retain flavor, texture, taste and freshness.
Right from a conserve to a concoction, everything is handmade and has the maker’s magic intact in its essence. We are here to get you addicted to food that is unabashedly unique and yum. So the ‘artisans’ or suppliers we associate with are people who treat food as a canvass. One on which they imprint their talent.
FoodTribe.in is the only website in the country to be providing a restricted marketplace for ‘preservative-free’ food. It provides a platform for independent food producers, aspiring chefs or home makers who create fresh and authentic food products, to present their creations to a retail audience online. Most of these products are not available in retail stores thus, making FoodTribe a ‘go-to’ place for all preservative-free food.
The founders say, “We have a first mover advantage. Our research and the processes involved in choosing a vendor and promoting them definitely gives us a better edge over others.”
With FoodTribe they use a marketplace/ brokerage model. People just need to log on, select from the range of delicious products and order. They accept all modes of payment and follow a drop-shipping model. Interestingly there is no inventory as the basic core of their business is fresh, made-to-order food.
“Our growth has been very organic. We are just about rolling out our marketing campaign. We have had a mix of both traditional and online marketing that we have employed, and as regards investment, it is from our non-existent savings and family who have supported us,” say Sowmya and Diksha.
They both agree that cooking has come a long way and is no longer a household chore. “Cooking was second nature to our grand mums or great-grand mums. The passion with which they used to cook, and their eagerness to share food with others is what pushes us to cook everyday. Most of us are trying to rediscover ourselves through our food and what we eat. And thankfully cooking has made a comeback, with several home chefs / housewives starting up in a big way and passionate foodies seeking for those experiences.” The ‘Upanishad’ has said: “When he provides food and shelter to human beings, he becomes thereby a world for human beings – BrhadāraṇyakaUpaniṣad, 1.4.16″
Being an entrepreneur is a completely new life. The things you learn to value being a boot strapped entrepreneur is something no school or university can teach. You learn to pay heed to the smallest of things — from the design of your bag with products inside it vs without, or be it the petty expenses that you ought to have accounted or the label check for every product that gets shipped.
“Whether a woman or a man, we think the challenges and the highs of being an entrepreneur are ‘gender un-biased’, ”they believe.
The biggest challenge, they say is ‘time management.’
For Sowmya, spending time with her child is the best form of relaxation. She loves discovering new places. “I travel to different places sans GPS,” she says. Yoga and workouts help her keep her daily sanity meter in check.
Diksha relaxes by being a sous chef to her mother-in-law! “I love cutting and chopping vegetables. It’s almost meditative,” she adds. She enjoys watching mindless television as it totally de-clutters her brain. Reading is another way of relaxation she chooses.
As for as the future of home bakers and cooks are concerned, they say,
Like never before, everybody is eager to know where their food is coming from and everybody wants to be a part of the process. It feels like the whole cycle has been reinvented. Home cooks should bask in this with pride and joy.
Sowmya and Diksha would like to make FoodTribe a household name. Their goal is to be able to promote this niche market and make available for customers food which is true to its source and authentic in its taste. “Honestly, our customers’ feedback and our vendors’ story of how they started off is the most gratifying thing. It can’t get more real and inspiring than that,” they add.
As for work life balance, they say, “It gets difficult, and we are sure that’s how it is for any entrepreneur. The real challenge is — are you strong enough to persevere it with 100% commitment? We sure are!”
Love food, love cooking, love eating healthy? Tell us what you think of Sowmya and Diksh’a efforts in comments below.