Ankush Oswal, 27, an MBA from Pune University, would make an ideal pin-up boy for one of the umpteen weight loss ads we see every day. Having lost over 35 kilos in his quest to get back to healthier limits, this young entrepreneur has tried his hand at exports and advertising startups before he, together with best friend Saher Motiwala, started The Health Box.
Saher, on the other hand, is a well known name. A former media student, she graduated from the University of Arts, London. After having worked with Filmfare and NDTV Good Times, this media professional now covers health and wellness stories.
Saher is a classic fat-to-fit story herself. For someone who weighed 100 kilos at the age of 15 (living as she did on red meat and white rice alone), she was introduced to the concept of ‘healthy eating’ as a teenager.
Ankush Oswal and Saher Motiwala attribute the conception of their brainchild, The Health Box, to their respective battles with childhood obesity and other health issues. The Health Box journey started a year ago when the two friends wanted to order a ‘healthy’ dinner after work, but none of the available options looked wholesome.
Ankush says, “That's when the idea of making healthy food accessible to everyone irrespective of age struck us. We always knew that health was a top priority for us, but, now, we also wanted to spread it to everyone around us. After months of endless conversations, hard work, sleepless nights and days, The Health Box was conceptualized.
“There are so many people today who are away from home, in a different city, working in plush corporates, but have no time to get themselves a genuine healthy meal. It was exactly that that made us take up this initiative seriously. And it isn't only just the working professionals, even our parents, stay at home mums, everyone wants to stay healthy and fit. Also, we realised there is a gap between healthy and actually healthy meals in the market,” says Saher.
The need to promote healthier eating habits is, they add, apart from being a passion with both of them, the need of the hour.
“Whether it is more people getting diagnosed with PCOS, Diabetes, liver issues, cholesterol problems,& etc.It only boils down to what they eat! So spreading health is also one of the aims.”
We were keen on knowing what sets them apart from a regular restaurant or takeaway, which do have healthier eating options. “Well, we’re the first takeaway restaurant in the capital Delhi to serve exotic health ingredients such as chia seeds, quinoa, flax seeds, tomatoes sundried at home, organic nuts, &etc. These are very popular with healthy eating enthusiasts today, and we have not, till date, come across an eatery which incorporates these in their menu. We have a range of detox and high protein meals for people looking out for specifics. Besides, we provide highly customized services. Our customers can call us directly for any query.”
The gourmet health delivery restaurant, which was bootstrapped right from the time of inception, was set up with only Rs 6 lakhs. Working with limited resources, they knew they would not be able to afford the high rentals in Delhi markets, which explains why they chose to be a delivery outlet.
Their shoe string budget also meant not being able to market their startup intensively. They have, till date, relied on word-of-mouth publicity from their customers and Zomato. The social media, particularly Facebook, has also helped them create a buzz.
Both Ankush and Saher take great pride in adding that that each and everything on board their venture, so far, by way of infrastructure, has been sourced and approved of by them individually. This, they say, was essential as much to cut down on unnecessary and avoidable expenditure as to ensure that there was no compromising by way of quality of food and ingredients.
The menu, though sure to appeal to the calorie conscious people and dieters, looks a tad limited at present.
“There are a lot of new dishes and offers in the pipeline that we would introduce once we have enough resources,” assures Ankush.
Since every item in the menu is made from scratch, on getting an order, The Health Box takes up to 45 minutes to deliver. That hasn’t put off health buffs who seem to be ready to wait for a few extra minutes for a wholesome and healthy meal.
Asked to share their ‘wow!’ moments in the brief one month of existence, Saher says, “Getting fabulous feedback from our customers! Their happiness makes us happy. Andour first ever order!That was a moment we will never forget! Also, when people call us from East and West Delhi asking whether we deliver there. Sadly, we don't- Not yet! But that motivates us to strive for more and get better as we go. We are already getting repeat orders from some of our clients, but our aim is to reach out to as many people as possible in Delhi/NCR.”
At this point, Ankush mentions that it is not as rosy as it seems. He wants to draw attention to the limitations of working on a tiny budget.
“We know we can do done a lot more if we have the necessary resources,” he adds.
Despite food related startups sprouting faster than wild mushrooms do in the rainy season, the team is upbeat. Not because they have a huge backing or are a thundering success already, but because they believe in themselves, their commitment towards promoting healthier eating habits and the dedication they are all putting in to make sure they deliver quality.
Future plans include launching an online ordering system, which will be the first of its kind in Delhi for health food.Paucity of funds being the biggest constraint for The Health Box team, Saher and Ankush are looking out for investors who share their passion and believe in their vision. Only then, they add, will they be able optimize their potential as a company.
On a parting note, they wanted to share a message with YourStory readers: “We want people like us who have similar dreams to know our story. We come from humble backgrounds, but our common passion led us to beat all odds and resource constraints to come up with a product that's true to ourselves. You too can do it!”