SupportBiz presents an exclusive chat with Kishi about Foodaholics, entrepreneurship and more.
Since when has Foodaholics been in operation?
Foodaholics has been in operation since 2007. So, we have been in business for five years now.
What were you doing prior to starting Foodaholics?
I am an Associate degree holder from the Culinary Institute of America, which is like the Mecca of all things culinary. I worked as a pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Diego and Singapore for a few years before I came to India in 2007. That is when I decided to start Foodaholics.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Foodaholics?
I have always loved baking, and I used to bake for my friends and relatives initially. Most of them found that my products were quite professional, and suggested that I start selling them. I followed their advice, and that is how Foodaholics was born.
How big is your team, at the moment?
Presently, we have a team of four people, including myself.
What are your signature products?
I would say my personalised cakes and my fusion desserts are my signature items. Fusion desserts are the personalised desserts that I create using two or more different flavours, depending upon the tastes of the client.
What are your most popular products?
Our Mexican food and all our desserts, our personalised cakes and cookies are very popular.
Do you have a retail outlet where you stock your products?
At the moment, I do not have an exclusive retail outlet. The first floor of my house is entirely dedicated to Foodaholics. I bake there, experiment with flavours there, and that is where I sell from, too.
How do you get your clients? Do you indulge in any sort of advertising?
No, I do not indulge in any kind of advertising, other than my Facebook and Twitter pages, my website and my blog. Some of my clients come through the social networking pages of Foodaholics, but most of them come via word-of-mouth referrals by satisfied clients, friends and relatives.
What are your expansion plans?
I would like to start a cafe of my own next.
Do you conduct baking workshops as well?
Foodaholics does not really conduct any baking workshops. I do share a lot of recipes on my blog and Twitter page, and that is a sort of an online workshop, and that is about it.
However, I also work as a consultant for Godrej's Nature's Basket, and conduct a lot of baking workshops in co-ordination with them.
How do you cope with competition from similar businesses?
The products that we make are quite unique and personalised, and we cater to an extremely niche audience. So, I don't really feel all that threatened by competition.
That said, I make sure I use the freshest of ingredients in my products, and ensure that they are of the best quality possible. That way, I ensure that my customers are completely satisfied and come back to me time and again.
Moreover, I also keep track of my competitors' products, and try to be a step ahead of them.
What are the major challenges that you face?
The major problem that I face is the lack of availability of good-quality ingredients for baking. I am unable to find some of the ingredients that I regularly use for my baking in India, and have to source them from abroad. That is quite a cumbersome process.
Apart from that, irate customers too sometimes pose a challenge. Some customers place an order at the last minute before an occasion, and expect us to deliver a personalised product on time. That is sometimes not possible, and leads to a difficult situation.
What have been your proudest moments as an entrepreneur?
I once had the opportunity to send some desserts to the jawans of the Indian Army at Siachen, and I loved doing that. I heard back from them that they loved the desserts, and it was an extremely proud moment for me. That is one moment that stands out in my memory, in the course of my journey with Foodaholics.
Apart from that, in 2010, I got the opportunity to bake a Slice cake for an event by Pepsi. It resembled the logo of the beverage Slice in 3D, and it was cut by actress Katrina Kaif at the event. Later, I heard from Katrina that she found the cake delicious. That was another moment that made me extremely proud.
That said, every feedback I receive from my clients, each letter or e-mail that says that the client loved my food and showering blessings on me gives me the satisfaction of a job well done, and is a proud moment for me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
I would like to tell an aspiring entrepreneur this: 'Make sure you know what you are doing. Be very sure of where your interests lie, and then pursue your business with great passion.' I would also like to say: 'Keep experimenting. Keep trying out new ways of doing things. That's the only way you will grow.'