Munaf Kapadia left Google to sell samosas. 5 things he learned along the way
Munaf Kapadia was an account strategist at Google India when he left the corporate world to, as he puts it, “sell samosas”. In seven years, his samosas – delicious Bohri mutton samosas, usually the size of a bite – have grown into a company in their own right, The Bohri Kitchen (TBK).
What started with him and his mother Nafisa Kapadia organizing pop-up dining experiences at their Mumbai home has grown into a successful start-up with a ₹Revenue of 4 crore at its peak. Kapadia’s book on her journey from employee to entrepreneur, How I Quit Google to Sell Samosas, was published by HarperCollins in April. Here are the five biggest lessons he says he learned along the way.
1. Do the digging: “In my opinion, there is no better way to start a business idea than to study and learn from the successes or failures of others,” says Kapadia, 31. had in 2015 for an AirBnB style app for home cooking experiences, he simply Googled the idea and found that many in the world had tried and no one had succeeded.
“What I was doing with TBK in our house at the time, I wanted to replicate with 1,000 other families in their homes across the country,” says Kapadia. His Google search took place about a month before he quit his job. By then he had sparked investor interest in TDT, invested some of his own money, developed the framework for the app, identified some home chefs. These pieces were falling into place. But a small survey conducted suggested that internet examples were the norm. “Almost everyone said they wouldn’t book a place for an unfamiliar in-home dining experience.” For some, it was a question of comfort. For others, it was a question of doubts about the quality and consistency of the offers. It became clear that his next step would not be a victory, if he chose to take it.
2. Don’t fall in love with your concept: After his investigation showed that TDT would likely fail, Kapadia changed course and decided to focus on growing TBK instead. “The discovery I made was a good thing. We have to change our mindset about it, ”he said. “If someone has tried it before and it failed, it allows you to find solutions or at least save time and move on to the next idea.”
3. Create a story: You have to invest the time to make your brand, your story and your personality stand out from the clutter, ”says Kapadia. Kapadia credits TBK’s success to the lip-smacking food of her mother Nafisa and their hard work. But it helps that they’ve built a narrative around the food that incorporates the story of the Bohra community, the Kapadia family, and their journey. “It made diners and the press come back to find out more,” he said.
4. Think small when you need to: During the pandemic, Kapadia says, he battled new financial and emotional stresses and learned that small ideas can make a big difference. “I think when we think of entrepreneurship, we only think of big ideas, big numbers and scale. And if you don’t see big, it doesn’t seem worth it, ”he says. “But pursuing small ideas on a large scale is entrepreneurship.”
In December 2019, TBK was at its peak. “We were making 200 orders a day and delivering food in 30 to 40 minutes. But we were barely making a 5% profit margin. Then the pandemic struck. Kapadia had to let the people go. “I was considering closing the business,” he says. As TBK no longer had the income to grow, the team instead decided to go back to their roots. All orders are now placed one day in advance. All food is delivered (Worli’s main kitchen doubles as a take-out outlet). In the place of ₹400 per order, the minimum is now around ₹3000. “It’s profitable and fun,” says Kapadia. “We’re not limited by a static, mass-produced menu. We can cook with peace of mind according to demand. I’m no longer looking for a quick scale and assessment, and it’s just about making the business sustainable and strengthening the basics as we go through these tough times.
5. Also take care of yourself:“My experience with stress, anxiety and panic attacks is the story of so many other young founders and entrepreneurs. I thought success was the antidote to feelings of anxiety about the future, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, ”Kapadia says. “During the first few years, every time something good happened, something big that recognized and recognized my efforts and my business acumen, I became even more dependent on these comments to validate me, professionally and personally. My business became my identity and I channeled everything that happened with TBK into my own sense of self-worth. If I had understood this early on and told someone about it, maybe things would have been different. Kapadia says he has since learned to separate personal and professional goals. It also allows you to make better business decisions with clarity, he adds.
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