How this MasterChef India contestant became ‘momo mami’ and won Rs 75 lakh funding on Shark Tank India
After moving to Delhi-NCR from Darjeeling, Aditi Madan craved for authentic momos, soup noodles, thupkas – staples in the Himalayan region she belonged to.
“I could see people attracted to this kind of food in Delhi, but was not sure of the authenticity and the hygiene. My aim was to make people experience the “real” food of the Himalayan region. This became stronger after I left MasterChef India Season 3 as one of the top six contestants in 2013,” Aditi says.
Vineeta Madan (centre with cheque) along with her co-founders and Sharks on Shark Tank India
The MasterChef experience, she believes, helped in “understanding the deeper connection between food and emotions of people from all walks of life.”
Her idea was clear from the beginning. With convenient food being the need of the hour, she started research and testing frozen momos without preservatives with a shelf life of six months.
was registered in May 2016 to produce frozen and convenient food like momos under the brand name, Yangkiez (Aditi’s maiden family name). Her co-founders are Rohan Singh and Naveen Panwar.
“When we started, we realised that we were actually solving the problem of HORECA as well and hence, the strategy was to focus on B2B sales channel through this sector first and then gradually enter B2C/D2Cspace. We started this venture in Jaipur and after the successful product validation there, we launched in Delhi NCR to cater a bigger market,” she explains.
Momos as a food is not easy to prepare and hence frozen momos seemed to be a viable concept.
Himalayan food, with love
Aditi started with momos and spring-rolls, which she calls her basic strength.
“We started with four variants with locally available ingredients and resources and currently we have 35+ variants where innovation takes place every day. We have most of the products trademarked as well. We believe in the value of serving authentic Himalayan momos served with love and care, with zero preservatives using natural ingredients,” she adds.
The range includes Classic Authentic Himalayan variants in different skin flours and also some innovative products according to changing customer needs. The products are made at a base kitchen with fresh ingredients and agro produce. Once crafted, the momos are then blast frozen to keep its nutritious value and freshness intact.
Along the way, Aditi came to be fondly referred to as ‘momo mami’ by everyone in the industry.
During ideation, Aditi also realised that while in the process of supporting women in helping her make nutritional, convenient, healthy and steamed food, the venture would also help agro produce be consumed in a longer period avoiding decay and wastage.
Her team also includes an electric engineer and a professional chef.
Its target audience is both national and global and serves all segments of the population. BluePine Foods serves the B2B segment while its self-run QSR is known as Yangkiez. In the last five years, they have sold around 80+ lakh momos to multiple hotels, restaurants, and cafes across India. They are also available on the Yangkiez website and delivers from its QSR via Swiggy and Zomato.
Success on Shark Tank India
What started as a small, bootstrapped company with Rs 5 lakh in 2016 is now a Rs 3.5 crore company. Aditi has taken support from government schemes like the Mudra loan and is also incubated at NSCREL and part of the Technoserve Accelerator programme.
“We have grown at a CAGR of more than 50 percent since inception in 2016. Our product quality has been our major growth driver and helped us reach out to a bigger customer base. Our major success has been coming onboard with a few renowned national brands. The biggest challenge so far has been sustaining through the impact of the pandemic on food and hospitality industry,” Aditi says.
Recently, Aditi also pitched at Shark Tank India and won Rs 75 lakh in funding from investor sharks – Ashneer Grover, Vinita Singh, and Aman Gupta, for 18 percent of the company’s equity.
“I always wanted to remain bootstrapped, but realised that in the digital era, to be on my toes and hustle all the time, I need the right mentors and advisors to help. Shark Tank India turned out to be a perfect fit,” she says.
Aditi believes that once the pandemic settles down, things will go back to normal and this will become a most sought-after segment again.
“Do not give up, invest this time in building value for yourself and the consumer. Prepare for things to open up. Encash the opportunity. We are gearing up to enter the retail sector,” she adds.