Hi, can you give a brief about yourself?
Hi, I am Shubham Maheshwari, founder of Being Chef. I am a Mechanical engineer from NIT Jaipur. I am a big-time foodie and I think that’s the reason I ended up doing a venture in food. I love to travel, majorly budget backpack trips and also devote a part of my free time in some or the other way to contribute to society.
What were you doing before?
I was working with a US-based consulting firm. We used to help companies with their sales and marketing strategies. I was working on a project of a pharmaceutical giant, consulting them with Incentive Compensation model to boost up their sales.
What is your inspiration to start your company?
I always wanted to contribute in some or other way to our society. I used to be a part of a lot of social initiatives during my college time. Also, we started our self-help group named as People For People. While doing all of this I realized that through entrepreneurship you can, directly or indirectly, influence a lot of lives. So, back of the mind, the idea was always there to start my own company someday. I was just searching for the right idea for which I can have full conviction.
Can you explain in detail about your startup?
Being Chef is a start-up operational in F&B space and provides a one-stop solution in veg food ranging from DIY cooking kit to fully cooked meals and homely economic meals to exotic premium meals.
The main problem that we are trying to solve is your daily food requirement. Currently, millennials are facing a lot of issues when it comes to meeting their daily food requirement. Supply of cooks is much lesser than the current demand and time involved in cooking is much higher than what is available with them. Fully cooked food ordered from outside is always a concern as they are skeptical of quality but they are bound to order it in the absence of an alternative solution. When it comes to cooking the hassle of procuring ingredients in the right quantity, processing them as per the recipe, making dough and wastage of un-utilized raw and processed food compel them to avoid cooking.
Our Recipe kit empowers you to cook anything in less than 5 mins. We provide you with all the ingredients (chopped & processed) customized as per your taste with a simple 8 step recipe card. All you have to do is have a frying pan and a ladle, with a stove/induction. Rest all is taken care of by us.
What was your inspiration behind Being Chef?
I graduated from college in 2013. Post that I joined a consulting firm, which was a college placement. For the first time in 21 years, I left my hometown (Jaipur) to join the company’s India office in Gurgaon. I was staying with my friends in a flat and we hired a cook to take care of our daily food. He was very irregular and we use to face a lot of hassles in managing the ingredients in our kitchen. A lot of food got wasted in our kitchen (in both raw & prepared form), but we never gave a thought about it. One day we thought of cooking using a video on YouTube. We ended up cooking something pathetic, yet we enjoyed eating it. That was the time when I started thinking of developing a product through which we can make cooking easy and fun. I started working on this and left the job in 8 months of joining it to work on this full time from March 2014.
How did your journey start towards your startup, from planning to funding?
I started planning for it the day I faced the issue while trying to cook with my friends. I did research on around a few thousands prospective target group to understand the demand. Then left the job to work on creating this product. For an initial investment, I decided to go to friends and family for their support.
We wanted to put in our own money before raising external investment, to justify the use of external investment. Valuing money is very important in a startup. Thus, we wanted to do the possible errors with our own money in the initial phase and then raise the growth fund from external investors.
Is your startup growing at good phase according to your plans? What are the upcoming plans from your end?
We had a very crazy journey in the past 5 years. We started small, became profitable, then scaled up the ops, served 17,000 + people in a single day, launched a few new products to solve the existing problems, became profitable again at that scale.
Now we are scaling up our current model, doing some crazy innovation in end-to-end automation in cooking, and are very soon launching a model to take care of your daily food needs in a different way.
What’s your stack on the competition? Who are your competitors? How you are overcoming them?
Currently, there is no competition for our entire model. Though part of our model has competition, then they are not operating in a pure veg segment. Moreover, our products have been designed in the way to solve the pinpointed problems of the consumers.
Did you get any recognition or awards for your startup?
Being Chef is recognized by DIPP, Govt of India (now DPI). Also, we were the finalist of Smart 50 competition organized by Dept of Science & Technology, Govt of India and IIM Calcutta. They were selecting the startups which will transform India (out of 20,000+startups in India) We were being selected on the model to make India ZERO Food Wastage nation.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
We see ourselves touching more than a million lives daily, making them healthy and fit and enabling them to cook their daily meals with convenience.
What do you suggest people who are interested in starting their own business??
Don’t just make plans. Start implementing it. What worst can happen? You might have to shut down your company. But then running it would give you an experience which will increase the probability of success in your second venture. And the cycle goes on. Most of the people you see got success in their third or fourth venture. So start early and fail early.
What is your opinion on Startupsindia.in? Any suggestions for us?
It’s a very nice platform for sharing stories on Startups happening in India. I follow your portal and see a lot of inspiring stories. Keep on motivating the youth of India.