At BrilliantRead Media, our aim is to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Aneeta Myint for an exclusive interview with us. She is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Strategist, Consultant (F&B), Mentor and Coach. Aneeta is the Co-Founder and Director at Kancha Cheena Foods Pvt Ltd. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Aneeta:
Talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
Not a single one was an entrepreneur before me. My dad was a Doctor; my brother was an Engineer. Stable family. But I was always a rebel who followed her own path.”
After my Hotel Management, I married my Line Manager, Mr Myint, a Burmese. We both were risk-takers. And we tried to establish our business in Nigeria, Goa and finally Port Blair. Started a chain of Oriental Restaurants, The China Room, for over two decades, till the Tsunamis of the year 2004 brought it to an end.
Since then, I have donned various hats in the F&B field – the most satisfying being with the famous chain of restaurants (named Dhishoom) in London. Now, with limited funds but decades of F&B experience, I’ve launched mYints-3-minutes – just heat & eat a range of gourmet frozen party snacks.
All items curated by us are free of chemicals and preservatives. They are lower in calories in the category by 40% – 70%, fall in the fine dining snacks range – Quick snacks in 3 minutes.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
From my clandestine marriage to the business in Goa to Port Blair – and being featured in Lonely Planet – several Aha Moments in life I have enjoyed. Waiting for the next Aha moment, when mYints-3-minutes becomes the preferred premium snack pan India.
Corporate jobs are great. But it also does not give the satisfaction of being able to do what you want to do, being able to serve the people with what you feel is right and required. In short, a corporate job doesn’t give those ‘Aha’ moments in life for a person like me!”
India has 40 Crores plus people in the Middle-Class category. Unfortunately, it was frustrating to see only cheap starch – deep-fried potatoes and deep-fried Maida based frozen snacks in the veg category. We all want something tastier and non-fried. Enough of French Fries and Aloo Tikki.
That’s why, and instead of waiting for someone else to create it, we started Myints 3-minutes to fulfil that need. With almost 70+ years of experience in F&B and Management in our founding team, we knew that there were great options in healthy pan-Asian snacks that could be produced at a commercial scale, with world-class quality. Bingo, mYints-3-minutes, born just a year back, is galloping now towards more options.
‘Kancha Cheena Foods Pvt Ltd ’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
Kancha Cheena’s name was like manna from Heaven. We wanted a different name that stands out. But, whatever ‘relevant’ name we came up with, the name seemed to be already taken!
Then, I realised – Ankush Myint (my son, who is also Director Operations in the Company) was always called Kancha for years – because of his Anglo Indian looks (Burmese dad, Punjabi mom!). And he is a great Chef himself! That’s where we simply decided to keep Kancha Cheena Foods as the Company’s name.”
I saw that only deep-fried French fries, potato wedges, Smileys, Samosas and Tikkis were available. All had potatoes, cornflour/maida and Cheese. And yes, lots of Chemicals, preservatives and antacids! Basically, as an ex-Professor, I can say that:
– All available products were high calorie, high fat.
– All available products were to be eaten with Tomato ketchup (most common in all households) so that the 1st flavour one gets is of the ketchup!
– International tastes are not available. Mostly salted options.
– Gourmet Snacks are not available.
It’s surprising that in the largest veg Country in the world, there are no gourmet snacking brands like https://feel-good-foods.com/ or www.egglandsbest.com.
Everything led to only one thing – launch a range of differentiated snacks, and you’d be serving the Indian vegetarians!
The market size is huge; there is practically nothing in vegetarian snacking beyond Rs 120 or so. And, nothing which gives gourmet taste in the convenience of homes.
Myints as a brand which will be a game-changer in this segment with its 3-minute Gourmet offerings and retail footprint
Our trademark is Myints 3-Minutes and ‘3-Minutes’ shall be synonymous with ultra-convenient, healthy snacking from Myints. We plan to build the brand recall around our trademark. We would passionately want to say to everyone, “Live life on the Veg!”
The recipes are in the fusion pan Asian taste – again, hardly any brand with a similar option in the frozen market. There are other smaller differentiators – like all 3-Minutes products come with their Chef curated, exclusive dip.”
We did not want our customers to dip everything into the Tomato ketchup at home and kill the basic taste of the recipe. Each of our dips has been uniquely paired for that recipe only.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
During the Covid crisis, the challenges were primarily three-fold.
Disruption in Production at factory level; disruption in supply chain and Logistics, and three, disruption at the end of customers.
The period was difficult since we could not do brand promotions or samplings. Our own team went down with Covid and faced family losses.
The established Companies were in a much better position to face this onslaught; it was very difficult for the Companies in the initial stages.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
A good supportive team helps. And my vast experience has taught me to be stable – tough times will go. I’ve seen the toughest of times – from a stage where I had employed 40+ staff and was never late in giving salaries, I found myself struggling for every penny and restarting from a few thousand of salary after having seen the peak!
What drives me? Now, it’s no more about earning money for self – it’s about making a brand that will possibly change the snacking habit of a few. It’s about a brand that will make a difference to health. It’s about a brand that will pan India and to the world’s vegetarian population.
What are the three most important lessons you have learned building your startup?
The three most important elements are NCC. It’s like the National Cadet Corps; only that the NCC stands for Networking, Capital and Conviction.”
The most important is Networking and Teams – both Internal and external. Then comes the Conviction in yourself and the teams in the face of adversity, which will be across every corner of the road. Once you have these two, Capital will come.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
My biggest source of motivation? My ex-husband, even though I am not the emotional sob-in-the-past kind. Hailing from Burma, he taught me herbology; taught me strength in the face of adversity and the conviction to follow your dreams. Whenever I get weak, I see him staring at me and the fear goes away!”
From that source of motivation, I derive my strength in doing what I am best at – Chemicals free, gourmet Snacks and food items. I also want to give one of the best plant-based meat options to the world. Aspiration to deliver keeps me going.
What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?
Let’s talk of a Products Company. Don’t make what exists, unless you can make it better and more economical. Else, try to make differentiated products. The journey upfront will be tougher, but it will lay a strong foundation for a stable Company.
Basically, Products. Team. Collaborations. What I call PTC. Only a good team will take care of your customers which will support the Products. Collaborations at scale will help you scale up in a frugal way.
The above 3 aspects will help maximise SKU level profits, and ultimately, Return to the Investors.
What are some of the strategies that you believe has helped you grow as a person?
Take risks, have faith in the unknown, and believe in people.
I would call it a way of life. Foremost is, Take risks. Yes, not all risks will succeed. But then, has every planned task given you success?
Having had a tough life, I am a firm believer in faith. That, eventually, it has to turn outright. Call it faith, call it conviction in what we do.
Believe in people and teams. Some of my people have stood beside me when my family members have ditched me.
If you were to give a 2 min pitch for investors to stoke interest, what would it be?
Innovation is at the core of Myints 3-minutes – our recipes, production facilities, marketing and growth strategies. We intend to build a Vegetarian food brand in the largest vegetarian country in the world – which has limited players and is dominated by 4 large MNC players.
The leadership team has almost 100 years of experience between them; with successful startups in the F&B space behind them. Ashok, an MBA grad from ISB, has decades of international operations and execution experience.
Having displayed good product-market fit, trust the team to grow your equity investment, in the fast-growing sector of Snacks in India. With a present product capacity of 1200 MT and world-class certifications, Myints 3-minutes is happening at the right time!”
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
A good team is the first. Then is the triad of self-conviction, differentiated products and customer service.
The above 4 are important, but the most important 5th element is capital. A consultancy business needs your brains and time BUT a Products business needs your brain, time and capital since the product is to be researched and produced.
One year down the lane, we have done good, but are looking for Investors who would partner with our journey.
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
Don’t follow the herd mentality – take risks and experiment. Find your path where you are most comfortable. And do it!
And yes, on a lighter note, work in Startups if you want to learn! A Start-up will give you a strong foundation for a successful career.