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 – Payal Srivastava for an exclusive interview with us. Payal is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Consultant, Change Enabler and Mentor. She is the Co-Founder and COO at Kalchi. Kalchi is a unique DIY food brand. Its products focus on bringing convenience to your Kitchen by reducing cooking time. It empowers individuals to prepare delicious restaurant like meals in less than 10 minutes. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Payal:
We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
I have always believed in leading a meaningful and purpose-driven life. I am a risk-taker and someone who is comfortable with uncertainty.
I believe in the power of passion, patience & perseverance for building a successful business. Over the course, I have understood that big things don’t happen overnight and there must be a journey full of challenges & opportunities, failures & successes to reach there.”
I graduated in Civil Engineering and did master’s in business management. I have enjoyed a decade long career in the HR of some of the best Indian and multinational companies. With my result-oriented approach and ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment, I was acknowledged and considered a valuable resource in the organizations I served.
As an entrepreneur over the last decade, I have gained a completely different perspective on managing businesses. My first venture, Enca consulting, was into human resource management. Being a solopreneur, it wasn’t the best space for me as I thrive well in challenging environments which have a lot of human interaction and conversations.
I have had my shares of ups and downs. At the age of 33, I faced a mid-life crisis. I had a medical condition called Bell’s Palsy which is facial paralysis, after the birth of my second child.”
Soon I realized that I must understand my self-worth and that if I don’t believe in myself, no one else will. I started retraining my mind and quickly bounced back. In the meanwhile, I had started contemplating on the idea of making a larger impact and solving bigger problems.
My father had a transferable job in the public sector because of which we lived in various cities of North & East of India. As a 10-year-old I understood the importance of life skills which helped me cope up with the frequent changes. I acquired core life skills like critical thinking, decision-making, coping with emotions & stress, self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal skills.
My own experience and the increasing need to individuals to possess the life skills to succeed in today’s competitive landscape led to the idea behind my second start-up.
Talentspeak is a sports initiative with the purpose of imparting life skills through the medium of sports. With a mission to empower 10 million individuals to learn life skills and achieve their true potential, we designed sports training programmes in unconventional sports like archery, fencing and judo. These training programmes helped in imparting life skills in a fun and engaging manner. The curriculum was designed by Indian Olympians and the programmes were conducted in corporate premises, school playgrounds, Decathlon stores and residential communities.
Employing and empowering over 20 sports coaches from low economic backgrounds, this model worked highly valuable for all stakeholders.
While building Talentspeak, an opportunity of setting up a heath café in the corporate office of Decathlon, came up. We took it up and thus started our foray into the food business. In less than 2 years we were managing food outlets in 4 techparks of Bangalore. At the same time, being parents of young children, making delicious and nutritious meals 3-4 times a day was challenging. We were looking for healthy, tasty, and nutritious food that was convenient and safe to use on a regular basis.”
We couldn’t find such a product in the market. We understood while interacting with hundreds of customers that this is a pain-point of thousands of them. We also learnt that we could have Indian food daily. We had a hypothesis and we set out to solve this problem.
Our mission at Kalchi is to make healthy & delicious Indian food convenient and accessible to everyone at an affordable price.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
I have always loved challenges in life, and I believe entrepreneurial journeys are full of challenges.
If I leant 10x during 10 years of corporate career, over the past decade of being an entrepreneur I have learnt 100x.”
In entrepreneurship, I am building a business from an idea. I learn new things every day and make decisions every single day. I embrace all failures considering that every failed attempt takes me one step closer to success.
Whereas in my corporate career I had been a part of ongoing projects, systems and processes. I dislike the fact that only successes are rewarded, and failures are considered bad for the future growth of an individual.”
‘Kalchi’ 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?
Kalchi stands for Serving Indian traditions. We serve Indian food, cooked in the traditional methods, in a modern avatar. Indian food is always served with a “Kadhchi” or ladle. Kalchi is the Sanskrit name of ladle.
What does your company specialize in?
Kalchi products focus on bringing convenience to your Kitchen by reducing cooking time. Our innovative products include
Gravies (for making Indian Curries),
Marinades (tikka series),
Indian Spreads (Curry based) &
Dips (Mayonnaise based)
The spreads have a good amount of protein promoting balanced nutrition. With authentic Indian flavours, the products serve the taste buds of North & South of India. They are cooked in kitchens in the most traditional methods thereby retaining the authentic taste.
Very versatile in use. The spreads and gravies are anytime meals (just add your carbs). They are nutritionally balanced and promote an active and healthy lifestyle.
Please describe the problem being solved and the solution provided by the Company.
As busy parents of young children making delicious and nutritious meals 3-4 times a day was challenging. We were looking for healthy, tasty, and nutritious food that was convenient and safe to use on a regular basis. We couldn’t find such a product in the market.
During this time, we were also managing food outlets in 4 techparks of Bangalore. We understood while interacting with customers that this is a pain point of thousands of them. We also learnt that we could have Indian food daily. And we set out to solve this problem.
Our mission at Kalchi is to make healthy & delicious Indian food convenient and accessible to everyone at an affordable price.”
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
> Built our eCommerce website and optimized for conversions.
> Balance between B2B and B2C
> B2B to provide stability, B2C to Build Value
> Railways, Large Corporates and our own online presence to be developed as major sources of revenue
> Marketing and Sales mainly through Sales Staff and Collaborations
> Distribution Network Setup (Gujarat and Punjab)
> Increase in Operational Efficiency (lower wastage and cost reduction)
> Playing in a very large market with products for all
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Entrepreneurship is a journey full of challenges. The freedom to do what I believe in is the driving force. I understood that there will be failures and those failures are nothing but stepping stones to success.
Having overcome the fear of the unknown, I move forward every single day with the desire to create an impact in the world.
I train my mind with positive affirmations like I am strong, I am enough, I can create an impact, I am capable of achieving everything I desire and I have the power within me.”
Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
(i) Empathy: It’s good to be an empath. You should understand the emotions of others well so you can tailor the solutions according to their needs/problems.
(ii) Self-awareness: A leader should be aware of his/her weaknesses and strengths.
(iii) Integrity: A Company’s culture reflects its leaders. Integrity is about standing for something bigger than yourself and setting a precedent within your business.
(iv) Endurance: The most important is the ability to persevere even when things go wrong. A leader is alright with ambiguity.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
The biggest source of motivation is my belief system. I have always believed in leading a meaningful and purpose-driven life.
We have only one lifetime to do remarkable things. We need to understand our passion and commit 100% to it. I have been fortunate to have a supportive family who understands my ambition.
I am happy that I could lead a life full of freedom where I decide when to work and with whom to work.
What are the most important lessons you have learned building your startup?
Lessons learnt while navigating my journey:
(a) Have a clear vision
(b) Look for a 10-year horizon to be successful.
(c) Learn from your mistakes.
(d) Build for creating value
What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?
I started believing in myself and my abilities. This mindset shift helped me grow as a person.
I began dreaming big and filled my mind with positive thoughts. I started to believe that making my dream come true is possible.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
(1) Never give up
(2) Believe in yourself
(3) Be consistent
(4) Don’t limit your abilities
(5) Be mindful
(6) Be authentic
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
Dream, dream & dream: Unless you dream you will not have the desire to make the effort to get there
– Believe in yourself: You must believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will.
– You can achieve anything that you set your mind on: Step out of your comfort zone and work hard.
– Be kind to yourself: Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will learn by making mistakes. It’s alright.
– Be authentic: You are gifted, and you are unique. Don’t imitate anyone. Be yourself
– Understand your self-worth: You are capable to achieve what you desire
– Be fearless: Be unafraid of navigating the less-travelled path. You never know what lies in for you there.
– Understand your purpose: Everyone is here for a purpose. Understand yours and life will become so meaningful.
Follow Payal At:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/payalasthana/