When the pandemic started in March 2020, everyone I knew hunkered down and prepared for the worst. I saw those around me cling onto their jobs fearing a recession and also the monotony of living the same day, again and again.
Amidst all of this, I got married and three months after this life-changing event, decided to quit my cushy job at ICICI Bank. Everyone in my family thought I’d finally lost my mind. They asked me what my plan was, and well, I didn’t have any to begin with. All I knew was that I wanted to build something I could call my own. Having read a lot of business books and annual reports of public listed companies, I thought the pandemic provided me the perfect opportunity to look inward and seek the answer to the question I asked myself every single day—What do you want to build?
I spent a month or two trying out various ideas, doing extensive research, reading and pitching these ideas to my wife, inspiration came in the form of a spoonful of achar. My brain quickly went through its checklist—Does this add value? Is it unique? Is it something I would buy? Is this scalable? Is it fun…and on this went. I mulled over this thought for some time, discussed it with my wife and my family and despite a few ‘oh no, it’s too risky’ decided to dive into the big, bad world of the food and beverage industry. But as the famous dialogue from Scam 1992 goes, ‘Risk hai toh ishq hai.’ And who doesn’t like ishq?
We started by perfecting the recipe. This involved spending even more time in the kitchen. Once I had learnt everything my mother and dadi had to teach me about the dates pickle, I came home to research how to better it and make it even tastier. Thus began a long month of making several batches, tasting them, sending to people, experimenting, and brainstorming everything from the name of the brand to the package size, to the price and mode of sale. This part was of course a lot of fun. The challenge came when in January we went to set up our first stall in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
Here are some photos from 02 Jan 2021 when we set up our stall.
A pandemic isn’t the best time to tell people to come and taste something, no matter how much you sanitise. It becomes worse when it’s biting cold with just the threat of rain hovering above you. People were cautious in approaching our stand and my wife and I saw for the first time what it felt like to try and sell something. By evening, we’d sold a decent number of bottles, had had three cups of coffee and were talking loudly to make sure people heard us extolling the virtues of Aweri Dates Pickle. That night in bed I realised just how challenging this was going to be, but the best part was this seemingly insurmountable challenge left me feeling excited.
Any successful person worth their salt seems to say just this—wake up feeling excited about the prospect of working hard. And after six years of working in jobs, I finally felt like I knew what these successful people were talking about. Following a passion seems great but what one really needs is the determination and consistency to learn something new, do the same things many times over before you perfect them, and having the ability to realise you’re scared of failure and then figuring what to do about it.
In the next few weeks after our reasonably successful pop-up, we worked on the recipe a little more, started selling online on this very website, became active on Instagram and soon began learning the ropes of ‘branding’. Our team grew and now we’re so looking forward to launching new products and growing, one step at a time.