I believe that the wave of entrepreneurship has opened a door of opportunities to everybody and Indian women are making the best possible use of it. I have interviewed a woman entrepreneur from Kolkata who could not pursue a corporate career as she had to take care of her family. She built an ecommerce, sold it and now (I think) working towards her second venture.
Here is another such story! Meet Punam Kumari, founder of Thekua.in – she, with some help from her husband, is building a website to sell thekua online. Thekua is a sweet dish from Bihar; it has a long shelf life and can be preserved for months. Punam is processing 100kg of order every month at present. She wants to expand the online presence of Thekua.in and planning to start a shop as well.
Let’s go through her story – how did the idea come in her mind, how is she managing the work while taking care of her family, what did she do when a doctor from the US placed an order which had to be delivered next day!
Saikat: Let’s start with a brief introduction of Thekua.in
Punam: Well, Thekua.in is the brainchild of my husband Alok Vats who is into Online Marketing. Alok is extremely fond of the food items prepared by me, especially thekua. He insisted me to use an ecommerce platform to sell thekua. Thekua has a great user base but the dish is not widely available. You will hardly find anybody selling thekua online. Thekua is mainly popular as the Prasad item of the famous Chhath Puja. We have seen many people out here in Delhi taste thekua during Chhath Puja, and then do not find it anywhere once the festival is over. So we came up with Thekua.in to sell thekua online. We started this website around one year back.
Saikat: How the idea came in your mind? Why Thekua, why not anything else?
Punam: As I said, thekua is a sweet dish from Bihar which can be consumed as a breakfast item and can be preserved for couple of months too. However, the item is only available during Chhath Puja. Many people in Delhi, who are not from Bihar, love thekua. I am sure, in other cities also thekua has a large fanbase.
Saikat: You are right. I love thekua a lot, but only get to taste it during Chhath Puja through some of my friends.
Punam: Correct; there is a demand for this dish. If the item is available throughout the year, people will buy it. And people who tasted thekua prepared by me always appreciated – it boosted my confidence.
Saikat: Were you selling thekua at home and then took it online?
Punam: No, I started selling through the website only.
Saikat: Are you full time into this? Is there anyone helping you?
Punam: Well yes, I am doing it full time while taking care of the two children – my 3 year old daughter and my husband 🙂
My husband, Alok, helps me a lot. He not only provides me moral support, but also helps me in day to day operations like processing orders, preparing the dish and delivering it to clients, either personally or sending it through courier.
Saikat: That’s great! Still there must be lot of work that you need to handle. When do you work? How do you balance?
Punam: It is really hard to manage such a venture when you have a family, and especially when you have to take care of 3-year old kid. Sometimes, to deliver orders on time, I have to work in night as well. Once I got a large order from a Doctor who was going to USA next day. We worked whole night and delivered it before she took her flight in the morning next day.
One thing I would like to mention here; I have to work in night, I have to work hard, I have to overcome many hurdles – but I enjoy it. The reason is I love to cook. Since I am following my passion, things get easier.
Saikat: That’s true. All successful people will advise you to follow what you love. Then work becomes fun!
Saikat: Let’s come to a different point. How did you manage the fund when you started? Did you seek financial help from someone?
Punam: No, we didn’t ask for any financial help, rather we started this project by our own savings only. It was not a huge investment though.
Saikat: How do the finances look like?
Punam: Well, we are not making any profit as of now. We are investing and the returns are just filling up the gap; if there is any profit that is getting invested back to the business. However, we are not making any loss as well and we are planning to expand it soon.
Saikat: With that said, what are your future plans?
Punam: See, we are getting orders of around 100kg in a month. Our objective is to get more orders. We are managing the logistics, packaging etc. by our own – since thekua has a long shelf life, we are not facing any issues there. However, in future we will like to make it more professional.
At this point, our primary focus is to increase the online presence of our website so that we can reach to lot more potential customers. We also have plans to start an offline shop for thekua as well.
Saikat: That’s great! One last question – what is your suggestion to fellow entrepreneurs.
Punam: Do what you love and things will fall in place naturally. Work hard and it will pay off in the longer run.
Saikat: Thanks a lot Punam. It was nice talking to you.