From Oman to India - the story of Doodhwala Co-founder Ebrahim Akbari
Milk or doodh is an ingredient of all auspicious occasions in an Indian household and is one of the most nutritious foods in the world, but the way we buy milk has definitely changed over the years.
Not too long ago, buying a bottle of fresh milk meant standing in a queue outside the local milkman's house or waiting for the milkman to arrive at your home. Fast-forward to five years, and we have started buying packaged milk, off the racks at supermarket stores.
Today, all we have to do is subscribe to Doodhwala - a subscription-based milk delivery platform. Founded in 2015 by Aakash Agrawal and Ebrahim Akbari, Doodhwala delivers more than 30,000 litres of milk every day before 7 AM!
Currently based in Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, Doodhwala stands on a strong foundation of technology and they liaise with local milkmen to source fresh milk.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, Ebrahim Akbari, Co-founder, Doodhwala speaks about his days in Muscat, his love for the outdoors and his passion for adventure...
Growing up as an NRI
Ebrahim grew up in Muscat where his father had his business - Zahrat Al Bawadi Trading LLC. "Oman was a great place to grow up. It was where everyone knew everyone," Ebrahim says.
"I am outdoor junkie and in Muscat, you do not have too many options. What's special about the place is its natural beauty," he says.
Ebrahim spent a lot of time camping, hiking, trekking, skiing and cliff diving.
“My father has always been my role model and he taught me to be ambitious, even as a young boy,” he says. As a student, Ebrahim says he had many hobbies. From public speaking to acting, to swimming - he was an all-rounder.
Moving to India
Ebrahim came to India for his graduation, opting to pursue a BTech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Manipal Institute of Engineering. After completing the course, he moved back to Oman to join the family business.
"My father always taught me that in the end, a company is always about its people. Even then, it was all about how to create value by being close to your team - that's when you can create something powerful," says Ebrahim.
Ebrahim with his Co-founder, Aakash Agrawal
He moved back to India again in 2015, to be a part of the technology space and that's when Doodhwala was born.
"I am a business man and I am always looking for where the next opportunity is. Technology is a huge displacer and milk is something that needs to be displaced or optimised from the current channel. How long will we survive on this fragmentation? This is a real ripe opportunity which is a network to 80 percent of India's population. There is nothing larger than this," says Ebrahim when asked why he chose the milk market.
Weekends begin on Mondays
Right now, all days on Ebrahim's calendar look the same.
"There are no weekends largely because we are in the growth stage of our company and we spend most of our time working. I am usually with my team even when I am not working," he says.
He does not believe in the work-life balance concept. "We are sleeping eight hours and working 10 hours, the rest is an ancillary function. Your work is your life," Ebrahim says.
Being true to oneself is what makes Doodhwala a fun journey.
"When you come to office, our employees come as they are. This culture is difficult to practise but we, at Doodhwala, believe in being ourselves," he says.
Ebrahim says that his weekend begins on Mondays when he goes back to work "and all the fun begins." In his free time, Ebrahim loves reading. He enjoys reading non-fiction - biographies and autobiographies. His recent favourite is Meditation by Marcus Aurelius.
"The book is not about meditation but about a king, who has the power of philosophy and it is a fascinating read," says Ebrahim who has already read the book twice in the last couple of months.
Weekends now and then
Ebrahim has no time for weekends ever since he became an entrepreneur
"Growing up in Oman, I would pop into our jeep and drive into the wilderness and go cliff diving. Now, Doodhwala has changed my definition of a weekend," he says. "I have a six-day weekend which starts on Monday.”
Ebrahim used to be a national-level swimmer once, "That was back in the times when my waistline was obedient," he jokes. He enjoys a 3 km swim every now and then.
Ebrahim is also a musician who plays the chime and the hang drum. He is also fond of movies that depict life. Dystopian movies top the list of his favourites.
Life and work
Ebrahim admires American boxer Muhammad Ali for the tenacious man that he was. He also admires Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius for "his teachings on veneration and adherence. He showed that the world that a man can be of noble character even when has a great amount of power," Ebrahim says.
He is fond of American Captain Henry Ford for his curiosity and perseverance.
Ebrahim is of the opinion that work-life balance is an overstated and overthought concept. "One should spend the 'time for themselves' however they want," he says.
Ebrahim ends the conversation quoting Margaret Thatcher:
"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's a day you've had everything to do and you've done it."