We talked to Shubham Maheshwari of Being Chef about cooking and nutrition, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Shubham Maheshwari: Hi Kossi, I am doing great. Luckily my entire family is safe from COVID till now, and we are taking all the necessary precautions as directed by the Government of India & WHO. It has been a difficult time for business but a golden opportunity to bond with family and do things that were left in the daily hustle of life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Being Chef.
Shubham Maheshwari: I was born and brought up in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, and have pursued my engineering in Mechanical stream from the same city. Past that, I joined a US-based consulting firm at its Indian office in New Delhi, India.
For the first time in 2013, I left my hometown and was out of my comfort zone. Initially, living an independent life was fun, but soon I realized the challenges with it. I was staying with my friends, and we hired a cook to manage our daily meals. We found a good cook after too much effort but were really disappointed with the boring and repetitive meals. Finding a good cook is such a big problem (because of huge demand-supply mismatch) that you are afraid of firing him even if you have to face hassles like frequent offs (without prior information), limited knowledge, etc. We also tried cooking ourselves, but it was so time-consuming that we ended up eating from outside most of the time. This was an unhealthy option, but there was no alternative.
Also, one thing that always bothered me a lot was the “FOOD WASTAGE”. A lot of food gets wasted in the millennial’s kitchen (in both raw and prepared format). In a country like India, where more than 15% population sleeps hungry every night, this becomes a major concern.
So, we started working on a product that could make cooking easy and fun. We did extensive market research and started working on building the product full-time (left the job in 8 months of joining). In March 2014, Being Chef was formed with a product known as 5 Min. Recipe Kit.
How does Being Chef innovate?
Shubham Maheshwari: Being Chef’s Recipe kit empowers buyers to cook anything in less than five minutes. It provides buyers with all the ingredients (chopped & processed) in EXACT QUANTITY along with a simple 8 step recipe card. By simply following those 8 steps, one can cook any dish in any cuisine with ZERO wastage of ingredients. The quantity of cooked food will be as per the number of persons you have ordered, thus resulting in zero wastage of raw material(s) and/or cooked food. Quality concerns are also taken care of as buyers can physically see the ingredients used to cook the food. Thus all hassles of managing ingredients, kitchen, pre-processing, etc., are taken care of, thereby resulting in saving your time for near and dear ones.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Shubham Maheshwari: COVID has bought a few structural changes in millennials’ lifestyle, which is in favor of our model. People are more conscious about their health now and are looking for a healthy solution for their meals. Also, as most people have tried their hands-on cooking during the lockdown, they have felt the hassles of cooking and the joy of cooking with their own hands. With our kit, hassles are being taken care of, leaving you with joy. So overall, the market and need for our product have expanded exponentially. Being the first mover and industry leader in this segment in India, we are hopeful that it will help a lot in our growth.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Shubham Maheshwari: Challenges and obstacles are part of every journey; may it be a job or entrepreneurship. I also faced a lot of challenges. I started at the early age of 23. Also, most of the team members were around the same age. Initially, vendors used to take us lightly, but then our work started speaking. Also, I was having zero knowledge of food. Understanding the industry was a little time consuming, but it also helped in innovation in our products, as we used to think with no pre-conceived notion.
During the pandemic, everyone was doing pay-cuts. A lot of our team members were the sole earning members of their family. We managed the expenses somehow but didn’t cut even a single penny. Our team also worked day and night to ensure that we remain up and running for every single day during the lockdown.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Being Chef in the future?
Shubham Maheshwari: Pressure, stress, etc., comes when you overthink. Ups and downs are part of life, business, and everything you do. So instead of overthinking, if we enjoy the journey and the flow, and boost up the morale, looking at the final goal because of which we started, things get managed on their own. Also, I do practice Yoga and Meditation, and it helps me a lot in balancing my energy.
As the industry leader in the vegetarian food segment, we see ourselves disrupting the two major industries: Cooking & Nutrition across the globe.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Shubham Maheshwari: We are working on a unique model that is a combination of scale, profit, and impact. We don’t have an exact competition for our model. Parts of the models have the competition, though. We always focus on our product, which gives us an advantage over the competitors. In most of the segments we are operating in, we are the first movers with the kind of solution we introduced in the market. This helps us a lot in staying strong in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Shubham Maheshwari: I would like to give the following advice to people who are entering into entrepreneurship:
Firstly, I understand how big the problem is. Don’t ride the wave of entrepreneurship because it’s cool. Trust me; it is not that rosy as it seems. So it’s really important to have a very strong conviction for your own idea. Do proper analysis before entering this wave. And once you enter, just stick to it no matter what. Make changes, adapt as per the market trends, and set some new trends of your own too, evolve, struggle, and stick to what you believe in.
To win a game, you have to be in the game.