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Dabba-walas blaze new business trend

business Updated: Sep 23, 2008 20:48 IST
Ruchi Hajela
Ruchi Hajela
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

What happens when dabba-walas meet gourmet cooks? A unique business idea is born.

Two young graduates of Delhi-based International Management Institute, Samarth Gupta and Pavan Kumar Varma, have fused two seemingly opposing ideas — homely meals and organised delivery of lunch at offices —to blaze a new trend, which, if it works could unleash housewife power on the corporate world.

The model is simple. Poshan, the startup betting on office-goers starved for mom-style meals, has a centralised kitchen in East Delhi. It invited housewives with a passion for cooking to a contest, and then threw open part-time day jobs to talented home cooks looking for recognition — and good pocket money.

A Bangalore-based executive turned home entrepreneur, Sonia Mahanti, runs a similar venture that specialises in regional cuisines.

“Cooking is my passion and it is not for the money but satisfaction that I work with Poshan,” said Chanchal Aggarwal, a housewife who joined the venture. Financial terms are yet to be worked out though charges are expected to be given per visit. Commercial operations for the Rs 45-per-pack meals began last July. Poshan delivers about 150 orders per day.

“This initiative was a part of our academic project and we found out that there is a demand for home-made food,” said 25-year-old Samarth Gupta, who started out with 30-year-old Varma. “That is when we decided to run a competition earlier this year to spot women who cook well.”

The founders claim that three venture capital firms have already approached them.

Mahanti, who once worked for Samsung, picked up the idea of delivering speciality food after noticing the demand for north Indian food in Bangalore. She now runs a home-made food delivery service that employs around 10 women who are experts in different Indian cuisines, especially Gujarati and Bengali.

Her ‘Sai Krupa Ghar ka Khana’ charges Rs 35 for a regular meal while a more customised meal for a patient or for a party varies between Rs 45 to Rs 120. Mohanti said the housewives make Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per month for two hours a day, five days a week. In Delhi, four women who made it to the top grade in the cookery contest have joined Poshan, which has a base kitchen at Patparganj in the eastern suburbs, with a distribution hub at Asaf Ali Road.

“We have arranged a pick-up drop facility for women who come to our base kitchen to cook a meal,” said Gupta. At present, the service caters only to offices in Delhi’s Connaught Place area but the founders plan to expand it across the National Capital Region by end of the financial year.