"To Win a Game, You Have to Be in the Game "- Shubham Maheshwari

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1. Tell us about your journey. 

I was born and brought up in Jaipur and have pursued my engineering from NIT Jaipur. Since my childhood, I was inclined towards social causes. In my school days, the pressure of studies didn’t allow me to do a lot and thus I started exploring it well only from my college days. In college, I got involved in multiple initiatives working for the betterment of society. 

I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to coordinate the INDIA AGAINST CORRUPTION movement in Rajasthan. We had organised a big rally with more than 70,000 people attending it. I was supposed to address them and was quite nervous. But after my speech, I came out as a more confident person with more risk appetite.

I also did a few internships during college and realised that a monotonous job in a big company can never be my cup of tea. I joined a US-based consulting firm at its Indian office in Gurugram as I didn't have the conviction for any big problems that needed to be solved. For the first time in 2013, I left Jaipur and was out of my comfort zone. Initially, living an independent life was fun but soon I realized the challenges with it.

I was staying with my friends and we hired a cook to manage our daily meals. After a lot of effort, we found a good cook but we were really disappointed with the boring and repetitive meals. Finding a good cook is such a big problem because of the huge demand-supply mismatch, such that you are afraid of firing him even if you have to face hassles like frequent offs (without prior information), limited knowledge, etc. 

We also tried cooking ourselves but it was very time-consuming. We would end up eating from outside most of the time. This was an unhealthy option but there was no other alternative. This made me realize that food which is one of the basic necessities needed proper attention. Food is one of the most important yet the most ignored necessities in our life. And thus I jumped into the boat of entrepreneurship to contribute to this sector to the most possible extent.

2. What inspired you to not take up a normal job but go down the entrepreneurial route?

Besides a lack of good cooks, one thing that always bothered me a lot was ‘FOOD WASTAGE’. A lot of food gets wasted in the millennial's kitchen (in both raw and prepared form). In a country like India, where more than 15% of the population sleeps hungry every night, this is a major concern. 

So we started working on a product which could make cooking easy and fun. We did extensive market research and started working on building the product full-time (I left my job within 8 months of joining).

In March 2014, Being Chef was formed with a product is known as 5 Min. Recipe Kit. Being Chef’s Recipe kit empowers buyers to cook anything in less than five minutes. It provides buyers with all the ingredients (chopped & processed) in the EXACT QUANTITY along with a simple 8 step recipe card. 

By simply following those 8 steps, one can cook any dish in any cuisine with Zero wastage of ingredients. The quantity of cooked food will be as per the number of persons ordered for, thus resulting in zero wastage of raw materials and cooked food.

3. What have you been able to achieve so far?

It has been an exciting journey of six years now. I am glad that our team is intact since the beginning and has shown their integrity and commitment to positively impact as many lives as we can. Because of our collective efforts, we have accomplished a few things.

We are recognized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Govt. of India, and have over 1,00,000 followers on Facebook even though the operations are in just one city. We have served 5,00,000+ meals to date and more specifically, have served lunch and dinner to 17,000+ people in a single day at 5 locations simultaneously. 

We were a finalist (out of 20,000+ start-ups from India) in the Smart50 competition that was organized by the Govt. of India to find those 50 companies which will transform India. We have also received the "Transformation of the Year" award at Amazon SMBhav 2020 (biggest event of SMBs of India) in the presence of Mr. Jeff Bezos and many other distinguished personalities.

4. What were the biggest challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?

Challenges and obstacles are part of every journey, be it a job or entrepreneurship. I too faced a lot of challenges. I started at the early age of 23 and most of my team members were around the same age. Initially, vendors used to take us lightly but then our work started speaking for us.

Starting out, I had zero knowledge of food. Understanding the industry was a little time consuming but it helped in the innovation aspect of our products as we used to think with no preconceived notion that "Yeh To Aisa Hi Hote Aaya Hai".

Quality of food was a concern initially but that was taken care of as buyers can physically see the quality of the ingredients being used for cooking the food. Thus, all hassles of managing ingredients, kitchen, pre-processing, etc. are taken care of, thereby resulting in saving the buyers time for their near and dear ones.

5. Did you consider failure at any point? What kept you going on?

I have learned one thing from my family that life is short and it should be lived with experiences instead of regrets. I get up every day with a single thought, to live that day as much as I can. This thought boosts my energy and keeps me going.

Pressure, stress, etc. comes when you overthink. Ups and downs are part of life, business, and everything you do. So instead of overthinking, if we enjoy the journey and the flow, boost up our morale, looking at the final goal because of which we started, things start managing on their own. Also, I do practice Yoga and Meditation as it helps me a lot in balancing my energy.

6. What is your advice to our young readers, some tips for someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur?

First, understand how big the problem is. Don't ride the wave of entrepreneurship because it’s cool. Trust me, it is not as rosy as it seems. It is really important to have a very strong conviction for your idea. Do proper analysis before entering this wave. 

And once you enter, just stick to it no matter what. Make changes, adapt as per the market trends, along with setting some new trends of your own too. Evolve, struggle but stick to what you believe in. Remember, to win a game you have to be in the game.

Second, I believe in accepting mistakes and trying to avoid repetition of the same. As human beings, we always make mistakes. Accepting and analyzing them help you grow as an individual.

Third, I believe that living every day happily is the key to success.

- Shubham Maheshwari, Founder at Being Chef

- Interviewed by Agatha Coutinho

- Edited by Shilpy Sharan