About 5 years ago, i had helped start-up a home-made tiffins business for the ‘help’ at my mom’s home — Puran. The first contract for about 10 tiffins + an evening snack came from Srijan (the company i promoted and run) via its employees who i enrolled into the idea of signing up for clean home-made food instead of the rather unhealthy Nehru Place food (Srijan was operating from Nehru Place then).
Puran got a loan of about Rs.30,000 from me for purchasing utensils, and tons of support from my mom — who had to manage her anxieties of him not being able to give attention to her home, but as usual we all loved Puran, and she gave in as well.
Over the course of next 2 years or so, Puran’s business flourished. With Fortis hospital being set up, resident doctors who stayed in Vasant Kunj started ordering not only their lunch but their dinner as well — in tiffins ofcourse — from Puran’s “Lakshmi Rasoi“. Each tiffin was priced at Rs.50/-, and his business scaled up to ‘100 tiffins a day’ — he had gladly told me.
I had always imagined this business to become a co-operative with more Purans joining the fray — and i had Kargil war widows of lower rank jawans, retired army cooks, in mind as potential candidates. However, life at Srijan had kept me super-busy, as usual, and the scaling of the business as a co-operative could not take off. Puran, meanwhile was bogged down with working 14 hours a day, as he did nearly everything himself, including delivery and payment collection — as the boy he had kept, he suspected was lying and stealing — tiffins went missing, payments were denied, and so on was the regular story. Given Puran’s success, a 4-5 more tiffins business sprouted in the same area where he operated from, and started eating into his margins.
Losses from theft, too much competition, and the toll of the stress took over Puran’s entrepreneurial zeal, and after about 3 years of starting this business, he decided to shut it down. Actually he handed his business and clients over for Rs.6000 per month to a competitor.
Puran evenutally got back into my mom’s home, and joined my father in helping him in his business. All good for him now, and he’s doing well. And happy.
But i am not! Argh! 🙂
The tiffins business — of supplying good hygienic food at economical prices — is unfinished business for me. While, i’ve had bouts of investing and running it like a proper ‘business‘ funded by me, my heart keeps tugging at me to make this a “co-operative” run by people at ‘bottom of the pyramid’. And i’d like to ‘volunteer’ my time on this business to offer leadership in sustaining the business for these ‘partner-suppliers‘ without ever a need to want to earn personally out of this. This would be ideal.
Let’s see when life allows this to happen again!