[Startup Roundup] 'Jab tak rahega samose mein aaloo', and other food tales

20th Nov 2017
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What do you do when there is no WiFi at home on a Sunday afternoon? If you live in the startup city of Bengaluru, you just tuck your laptop under your arm and head for the neighbourhood coffee shop that serves large mugs of hot Cappuccino and free WiFi.

Surrounded by the strong aromas of Arabica and Robusta, and fellow coffee drinkers immersed in their Macs, you are at once comforted and all seems well with the world again.

This week though there are more reasons to feel that all’s well with the world. Even as the Karnataka government pulled out all stops to give startups a long runway to take flight (read our extensive coverage of the three-day Bengaluru Tech Summit), and the global cab-sharing company Uber flying down its top product guys to the city for a global launch, you have to admit Bengaluru is the place to be if you are starting up.

But that’s not the only reason for our joy this week.

You will also be happy to note that among the startups that we profiled this week, a majority of them are about food and love.

In case, you missed them, let’s summerise them for you right away.

Samosa Singh

What is an Indian snack without the aaloo samosa? No gourmet burger or pizza can rival the humble samosa, in my opinion. And when you have entrepreneurs who swear by their love for samosa such that they trade it for their new flat, then that is when you know you have a killer story on your hands.

Samosa Singh Founders

Radhika Nair followed her nose (for news, of course) to hunt down the story of Nidhi and Shikhar Singh, who sold their new flat and traded it for a business in selling samosa. Writes Radhika, “In October 2015, the two finally decided to draw up a business plan and decide what their roles would be. On October 13, 2015, Shikhar got Nidhi to say yes once again – this time to starting up. He quit his job the same day.”

Samosa Singh is operationally profitable and is set to become profitable overall in a few months. The company is confident of closing the financial year at Rs 8 crore revenue.

Clearly, for the founder couple jab tak rahega samose mein aaloo, they will be wedded to their startup Samosa Singh.

Read the full story here, titled: ‘Meet the husband-wife duo who sold their flat to build their dream business, Samosa Singh’. 

Coffee by Di Bella

What’s a warm samosa without piping hot tea? In this case hot coffee? My colleague, Sindhu Kashyap stumbled upon Coffee by Di Bella and she had Bollywood superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor as company. Well, not literally.

Thirty-five-year-old Rahul Leekha, Director of Coffee by Di Bella, says, “It feels like life has come full circle. I would spend most of my money at Barista near Raghuvanshi Mills in Parel, and now coffee is feeding me.” He plans to expand to 100 stores across India in the next three years.

Rahul Leekha, Director, Coffee by Di Bella

Two years back, the brand was owned by another franchise. So when the Di Bella team came in, the mandate was to help the brand set up their entry-level strategy and base. Rahul says he became a small equity holder in the brand and that is how he started off. “The previous guys then exited and we had the option of taking over the entire brand,” Rahul tells Sindhu.

He has several celebrities frequenting the café, making it the talk of the town.

Read their full story here, titled: ‘Here’s why Amitabh Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor go to Coffee by Di Bella to get their caffeine fix’. 

Mirchi and Mime

Another Mumbai eatery that has become the talk of the town is Mirchi and Mime. Its founders wanted to create a business as beneficial to its employees as it would be dear to its patrons.

Mirchi and Mime is a socially responsible yet sustainable restaurant chain in Mumbai’s Powai area that employs people with disability as servers, supervisors, and chefs — in effect, making use of their special abilities.

The founders — 41-year-old seasoned hotel management professional Prashant Isshar and 38-year-old IT professional Anuj Shah — reckoned that in order to make the dining experience seamless, the format of their restaurant should be conventional. The only change they incorporated in the experience is replacing the verbal interaction between the staff and the customers by visual communication, that is, sign language, writes Binjal Shah.

Read their full story here, titled: ‘Run by speech and hearing impaired staff, this restaurant has topped Zomato Mumbai for two years’

Smerkato

This startup that means ‘smart market’, is the brainchild of 28-year-old Tirumala Sekhar. It is a raw material and analytics solution provider for restaurants and food chains.

The Bengaluru-based startup, launched earlier this year, aims to organise restaurants and the QSR sector by using technology to bring visibility on wastage, usage, return on investments, etc through Artificial Intelligence (AI). Writes Athira Nair, “Food chains, restaurants, and hotels can place orders for all their grocery requirements directly on Smerkato and orders will be delivered to their location. Smerkato, which calls itself a ‘technology-enabled retail platform,’ is also a hyperlocal marketplace for local stores. For a fixed commission, Smerkato passes orders placed by customers directly to local stores for delivering to customers.”

Read their full story here, titled: ‘Backed by AI, Smerkato aims to be a single window for grocery needs of restaurants and consumers’

Fit District

If you’ve had enough of food and restaurants, then here’s another interesting startup that will ensure you live a guilt-free life after all the binging.

Started by husband-wife duo, Bengaluru-based Fit District, is standing up to some big daddies of gyms and fitness centres and needs to be applauded for that. This bootstrapped startup is the love of Vasudha Aggarwal and Niran Ponappa, and they taking on fitness with a more inclusive and hands-on approach.

Vasudha Aggarwal and Niran Ponappa, Founders FitDistrict

Vasudha tells my colleague Sindhu Kashyap, “There were days that we simply wanted to give up. Starting up is difficult, but we got courage from Smokey (their pet dog). He had a rare disease and had to be hospitalised. Every time he would see us in the hospital, he would try to stand and make an effort. His positivity in the face of death taught us so much, about how we should never give up in our quest to achieve what we want to. We may even call him the first founder of The Fit District.”

Read their full story here, titled: With bootstrapped The Fit District, this husband-wife duo aims to bring out the athlete in you

It is incredible how every startup founder finds their strength from those around them. That in itself is a story worth telling. Maybe sometime soon. Until then, keep reading us.

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