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IT professional and serial entrepreneur brings Ratlam’s famous ‘namkeen’ online

Sindhu Kashyap
21st Mar 2015
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In a world that’s beginning to get smaller and closer with every click of a key, everything seems to be available online. Clothes, electronics, consumer durables, FMCG -everything is available anywhere and everywhere, so why would your very own and favourite ‘namkeen’not? Started in October 2013 by Ankur Phadnis Namkeewale was established to deliver authentic ‘namkeen’to different parts of the country.

The idea of selling snacks and savouries online isn't a new one. Big brands like Haldirams and Anand Sweets are already doing it. And the story of Pakumania delivering regionally authentic made-to-order snacks and mithai is well know. There's even website known as Induben khakrawala, known for authentic Gujarathi Kharar and other savouries. However, Namkeenwale is restricted to Madhya Pradesh and particularly Ratlam. "Ratlami namkeen is known for its unique tangy taste and it isn't easily available in other parts of the country," says Ankur.

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Early days of starting the online food business

Ankur was born and brought up in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. "I finished my education in Ratlam and moved to Mumbai, where I was working at TCS," says Ankur. After working there for about four years, Ankur decided to start a venture of his own. "I’ve always known that I am an entrepreneur at heart; I am not made for a regular job," he says. So along with a colleague, Ankur established Dial Yummy, an online website for restaurant discount coupons.

Talking about his first venture, Ankur says, "The idea was to establish a portal where you could get discount coupons for dining across different restaurants in the city. However, due to lack of investors, the portal could not take off. We were left with nothing. So the only thing I thought of doing at that time was to get back home."

Foray into establishing Namkeenwale

After shifting to Indore, Ankur established a small IT firm. He says, "My parents are both government officers, so they’re not very comfortable with the idea of entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, I was very particular that I wanted to do something on my own. The IT firm that I had established was purely for sustenance. The company, however, began to do very well and I thought I could focus on something that I am good at - product conceptualisation and development. So that's when Namkeenwale was established."

Believing that there’s tremendous potential for food and savouries in the e-commerce segment, Ankur began doing his research on what areas would be lucrative. "I saw that the section of authentic ‘namkeen’ was blank. The Malwa regions of Madhya Pradesh and Ratlam, in particular, are known for its ‘namkeen’. You just don't get this authentic ‘namkeen’ anywhere else. There are other brands that distribute ‘namkeen’ across the country, but it isn't authentic," claims Ankur.

Elaborating further, Ankur says, "There’s this huge demand for snacks in India. Many people stay away from homes and look for their authentic foods and savouries wherever they go. With Namkeenwale, we ensure you get authentic ‘namkeen’, made on the streets of Ratlam, delivered to your doorstep."

The Journey and way forward

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Thanks to his IT industry backing and training, Ankur found the technical aspects of the job easy to do and work on. "Creating the website and building the e-commerce aspects of the site was easy, because I had done this during my stint in TCS and also when I had created Dial Yummy. What was challenging was the packaging and logistics aspects of the business. I took time in finding the right courier companies to tie up with and also finding the right packaging, as the ‘namkeen’ could spoil if it wasn't packed properly. So I did my research and ensured everything was perfect," says Ankur.

For the initial few runs to test the running of the site, the logistics, right delivery and other nitty-gritty processes, Ankur asked his friends and colleagues to order from the site a couple of times. When he saw that the processes moved around seamlessly, he opened up the site to the general public. "While I have started Namkeenwale, I have a team of people working for me, people who make the ‘namkeen’ on the streets of Ratlam, my core developers and packagers," says Ankur.

Initially the website saw around 15-20 orders a month. With a few SEO efforts, the website gets over 100-200 hits a day now. Talking about his future plans, Ankur says, "I have started getting messages from people in the US and UK asking if I can deliver there, so I have gradually started expanding to the overseas market. I am also looking to do add other savouries and eateries on our website."

Namkeenwale is currently bootstrapped,but Ankur says, “I want to establish Namkeenwale a little more before I approach investors for funding. I want to fully begin delivering overseas and I want to expand my product base before I begin approaching investors," says Ankur.

Web url: www.namkeenwale.in

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