When did Spice Route start operations?
The parent company, Geetha Kannan Spices, started operations in 2001. It is basically a farming company, where we grow a number of spices and other agricultural products. Spice Route is an offshoot of Geetha Kannan Spices, which came into existence in 2010.
How many retail outlets do you have? Where?
Spice Route has six retail outlets in total. There is one in Mantri Square Mall, Bangalore; one in Central Mall, Bangalore; two outlets in Chennai; one in Mangalore and one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
What were you doing prior to setting up Spice Route?
I am basically an MBA in marketing and finance. I worked with companies like Titan and Onida in sales and marketing before starting Spice Route.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Spice Route?
I have always felt that spices are something intrinsic to Indian culture, and they are much loved by the people all over the world. However, there are very few retailers who market authentic spices to a vast audience. I felt that there was a market for genuine Indian spices both within the country and abroad, and that is how I thought of setting up Spice Route. It gave me the opportunity to work directly with spices, something I am very passionate about.
How is Spice Route different from other spice stores?
We provide our customers with a vast variety of spices, some of them quite exotic and not available elsewhere easily. We pride ourselves on providing the freshest of spices to our customers, and with a beautiful shopping experience. Shopping at Spice Route is very different from buying spices from a neighbourhood kirana store. Moreover, we maintain very cordial and warm relations with our customers, and know exactly what they need.
Any expansion plans in the near future?
All of the Spice Route outlets presently are located in malls. I plan to establish an outlet out of a mall, in an upscale locality, and see how that works out. Maybe I will buy a house and make part of it into a spice store, while I will demonstrate the use of different spices in the house kitchen.
I also have plans of setting up more stores in South India. I am interested in developing the South Indian market.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
The creation of the first Spice Route store was a very proud moment for me, as it indicated that I had succeeded in converting a concept – a dream of mine – into reality. The moment when the first customer made a purchase – it was an aged lady, who bought some turmeric – I was thrilled.
The launching of the subsequent stores has also been dreams come true for me, moments of pride as an entrepreneur. They give me the satisfaction of a job well done.
That apart, the moments when we are able to procure some exotic spice for a loved customer give me great happiness. It is wonderful to see the smile on his/her face when we hand them their treasure!
Geetha Kannan Spices has been the proud supplier of 360 metric tonnes of spices to the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam Trust over a long period of eight years, for the preparation of the famous Tirupathi laddoos. Reflecting over those days makes me very proud as an entrepreneur.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
I would say procuring funds and strategic partners for the expansion of business is my biggest challenge at the moment. It is tough to procure funds for managing and maintaining our existing stores, too.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
I would advise an aspiring entrepreneur to be very practical in preparing a business plan, to learn the ropes of the business slowly and gradually, and not to jump into things too early. Once the business is launched, the entrepreneur should enjoy each phase of it: the childhood of the business, its adolescence and maturity. The entrepreneur should not be in a hurry to grow his business, rather he should savour each and every moment of each stage of growth.
Corporate Website: http://www.spiceroute.biz/index.asp