India is a such diverse country that food habits change every few hundred kilometres. That’s a wonderful culture in itself – different aromas wafting through the air as you travel from one state to the other – a food journey like no other.
Dipping into these differences in tastes all over the country and the delectable snacks each state has to offer, two 14-year-old students from Mumbai have come up with The 12 States, a unique snack box that can satiate your diverse snack cravings.
Jiya Rathi and Anya Kotecha
A novel idea
Anya Kotecha and Jiya Rathi from The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai say the novel subscription box of snacks will re-connect you to the unique culture and tastes of various states of India.
“India has a rich cultural heritage that is demonstrated through its diversity in language, art, festivals, and - most importantly - food. Many of us have childhood memories of our grandmothers lovingly cooking our favourite snacks. But as we move away to different states in search of education and jobs, we lose touch with these snacks and memories,” Anya explains.
The 12 States subscription service ensures you receive a box of snacks at your doorstep every month from 12 states of India. Customers can sign up for three, six, or 12 months, and can even gift subscriptions.
Local delicacies and flavours
The young entrepreneurs have thoughtfully curated the boxes with local delicacies and flavours handpicked from the best and most popular stores of that state. This involved extensive research of popular snacks and stores of that state, which in itself was a huge learning experience for the girls. They also conducted extensive customer surveys to help them pick the right snacks that would be authentic and appeal to their target audience.
For example, their Gujarat box includes popular delicacies such as methi khakra, chavanu, fulwadi, lilo chivda, dry kachori, and gathiya.
“In addition to the snacks, the box also has a booklet with interesting trivia about the culture of that state, recipes, and other fun activities. This is a great way to get everyone familiar with the rich history and fun facts of that state,” Jiya says.
Each snack box has six to eight snacks. The three-month subscription service costs Rs 700, six-month subscription costs Rs 1,200 and the 12-month one costs Rs 3,600. The snacks are from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and Arunchal Pradesh.
Working on a dream
The girls came up with this unique venture during their Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) classes.
“The teachers at YEA taught us about many different aspects of setting up a business, including marketing, sales, and finance. We had many interesting entrepreneurs share their stories with us that taught us a lot of valuable lessons. Most importantly, the YEA programme helped us create a business plan, which continues to be our compass as they expand and scale,” Anya says.
The girls received positive feedback at their stall at the YEA! trade show and this gave them confidence in the potential of their venture. They have distributed over 100 boxes so far, curated from the prize money won at the YEA! Investor panel.
“Working in a team has been a challenging and gratifying experience. From dividing responsibilities to jointly thinking through every big decision, it has been fun having a partner in this venture. We are glad we learned the nuances of working in a team this early in life, through our hands-on experience rather than a self-help book,” Jiya says.
Anya and Jiya are looking to hire a small team that can source and ship snacks from different states to Mumbai, where they can then assemble their boxes and ship them all over.
They also plan to invest more extensively in digital marketing (Instagram, Facebook and other online sites, especially food bloggers and influencers) to acquire more customers and on-board their service on ecommerce sites as well. At some point, they would like to grow their business outside India.
Both girls come from a family of entrepreneurs and always dreamt of being entrepreneurs themselves.
“Working on a venture that we feel very passionate about and fulfilling this dream has been one of the best experiences and we look forward to an exciting journey ahead,” they say.
Anya and Jiya are clearly excited about gifting “these experiences of India” through their venture and promoting local entrepreneurs who “will hopefully get a global platform through The 12 States”.
(Edited by Teja Lele)