Home and food cooked by a loving mother’s hands are almost synonymous. Mothers cook for their children not just to provide them nutrition but also as a way of showing them love. So, when a child goes far from home, mothers look for ways to send them home-cooked food. It’s this simple truth that inspired a business.
Like all mothers, Sunitha Vasnad loved cooking for her family. She was known for her delicious breakfasts, healthy lunches and indulgent dinners. When her daughter, Niketa went abroad to study in 2013, Ms. Vasnad packed a lot of food for her to take along. Now, food like pickles and chips has a long shelf-life but meals like idli-sambhar, poha, biryani, etc. have to be finished within a few days of being made. This was the type of food her daughter was craving. So, Ms. Vasnad started figuring a way to extend the shelf-life of a home cooked meal.
The research, trial and error and experimentation paid off and she was soon able to formulate food that would last for weeks and even months! All her daughter would have to do was add water to the dish and microwave it for a few minutes. As her daughter shared these delicious meals with her friends in college, the demand for them grew. Now, Ms. Vasnad wasn’t making them just for Niketa, she was making them for all Niketa’s friends too. It was actually the way a number of Germans got their first taste of Indian food.
Seeing how popular her ready-to-eat meals were, Ms Vasnad decided it was time she became a ‘mompreneur’. Who said entrepreneurs had to be in their 20s… Once Niketa finished her MBA, they both decided to make it as a full-time venture and in 2014, they created the company we know today as DesiMealz .
The Challenges and the Path Ahead
The path Ms. Vasnad set herself upon was not a smooth one. There were a number of challenges she had to overcome. Like every mother, Ms Vasnad used only the best quality ingredients while cooking. So, first was, of course, finding a way to preserve the taste and nutritive value of food while formulating a way to make it ready-to-eat. Secondly, the product had to be packaged in a way that was travel-friendly. They had to market the products and make it available to people.
The two women entrepreneurs gradually found solutions to all their challenges and DesiMealz became a brand synonymous with wholesome ready-to-eat food. For the first year, the company manufactured and marketed only 6 products.
Within a year, the company had signed on their first B2B customer. It was no longer a pipe dream. DesiMealz was a micro-enterprise factory. In 2016, the DesiMealz range of products was offered by a number of major QSR (quick service restaurants) chains.
In 2017, DesiMealz was QMS (quality management system) certified and awarded the ISO 9001-2015 certification. With this certification in hand, DesiMealz executed its first export order. A year later in 2018, the DesiMealz product range became available internationally.
In 2019, the foodpreneurs faced a new challenge. They had expanded their SKUs and their team had grown. With this they outgrew their existing kitchen space. The company had to move to a bigger factory space. The move allowed them to quadruple their production to touch 50 tons per month.
What does DesiMealz Offer Today?
From the 6 SKUs, the brand started with, its product range has grown to 17 SKUs. All these meals are pure vegetarian. The dishes are predominantly south Indian with traditional flavours. They’re ideal for all three meals of the day as well as a snack. Some of the most popular DesiMealz are the Mini Idli Sambar, Tamarind Rice, Poha, Upma, Hyderabadi Biryani, Bisibele Bath and Lemon Vermicelli. They also offer a few international flavours like Schezwan Paneer Fried Rice and Mexickan Rice. There are desserts too- a delicious Sweet Kesari!
Schezwan Paneer Fried Rice
In the years to come, DesiMealz will continue to grow. The products are now available online and offline, in India and internationally. They’re ideal for quick meals for one or for the entire family. Have you tried one yet?