[Startup Bharat] This Kolkata-based platform is bringing Bengal's indigenous snacks to your home
Indian foods are among the most popular across the globe – whether it’s Chicken Tikka Masala being devoured in the UK or Samosa becoming a staple in the Caribbean. Every state in India has its own flavour – with Delhi famous for chaat and parathas, Gujarat is known for dhokla, gathiya and papdi, Rajasthan is famous for Dal Bati, Churma and gatte ki sabji, and so on.
West Bengal is also famous for its authentic regional cuisines, including Bengali sweets like Rajbhog, Moti Pak, Rosogolla, and Sandesh, as well as Darjeeling tea, Nolen Gur and Muri. Even the lesser-known Bengali masalas and after-meal snacks find many takers within the state.
The rich Bengali food culture prompted husband-wife duo Umashankar Mishra and Shruti Mishra to pass on the delicious cuisine to every nook and cranny of India. In January 2021, they started India Cuisine in Kolkata.
is a food ecommerce startup with an online store that sells regional cuisine and food products from West Bengal across India at a reasonable price.
The startup offers Bengali sweets, authentic Bengali groceries, desi ghee, dry fruits, sweets, snacks, drinks and beverages, fryums, instant mix, fasting and falhari food products, and staples and spices that are a speciality of West Bengal.
Umashankar tells YourStory that in West Bengal, people have a habit of eating sweets after their meals.
But in 2020, after a few days under the lockdown, the couple went out of stock with sweets.
“I feel a craving for sweets after every meal. Though we had homemade sweets some days during the lockdown, we always missed the taste of authentic Bengali sweets. That’s how the story of India Cuisine started,” he states.
“I always wanted to start an ecommerce business and during the pandemic, I got time to shape my dream. I did research on authentic local brands and realised that though they gained years of faith and recognition worldwide, many remained unorganised. I saw huge potential in this sector and now my dream is that the cuisines of West Bengal reach every Indian meal,” says Umashankar.
The founders - Shruti Mishra and Umashankar Mishra
Started with 51 products and five categories, today, the startup deals with 400+ products across 10 categories. India Cuisine and Food Product Pvt Ltd is also recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), a Government of India initiative.
Started with a two-member team, the startup now has five members. Prior to starting India Cuisine, Umashankar had 20+ years of experience running a sole proprietorship business delivering more than 2,000 varieties of products to different jute mills in West Bengal.
Shruti comes with over 11 years of experience and has worked with top Indian companies and MNCs in accounts, finance, costing, company law, and compliance.
At India Cuisine, Umashankar takes care of procurement, dispatch and shipping, while Shruti takes care of finance, costing, compliance, company law, accounts, procurement.
Business model and revenue
The startup operates on a B2C model where it takes orders from customers through their website and delivers it to their doorstep.
They ship sweets through air mode and the rest of the products through other means of transport so that they can be consumed within the shelf life. The startup uses international as well as national courier brands such as Delhivery, Blue Dart, Xpressbees, Kerry Indev, DTDC, Gati etc to deliver its products across 26,000+ pin codes.
YS Design team
The startup sources products directly from the company, distributor, or from local markets or shops. It does not charge any commission from the businesses/vendors from whom they procure products. Products are bought on wholesale basis, and the startup charges a margin on the wholesale price from customers.
Claiming to be profitable, its products ranges somewhere between Rs 38 to Rs 1,220.
So far, the startup has served 2,000+ customers. Shruti explains that the number is low because of the pandemic-led lockdown. However, the startup plans to reach 20+ million customers across India, and 10+ million outside India in the coming years.
At the end of FY 2022, the company’s turnover was Rs 2 million.
The way ahead
The founders bootstrapped the startup with an initial investment of just Rs 21000/-, but after seeing a steep growth in sales they have invested in the business as per the requirement and till now their total investment in the business is Rs. 10 Lakh (including fixed cost).
Within two years, the startup aims to reach a yearly turnover of over Rs 250 million, including the Indian and international markets.
India Cuisine competes with, , , , and Bonghaat.
According to Research and Markets report, the Indian snacks market will be worth more than Rs 1 billion by the end of 2024.