Masala Box offers Home cooked meals delivered right at your doorstep!
Ideas often strike at the most unexpected times and Harsha Thachery’s story is no different. On maternity leave, sitting at home awaiting the arrival of her bundle of joy, Harsha began to explore healthy and preservative-free eating options. It was then that she realised that there were a slew of home chefs who prepared and served simple, yet healthy and tasty home-cooked meals. The idea took firm root in her mind and she began the painstaking process of putting together a panel of home chefs who could cater meals to interested customers through her e-platform called Masala Box.
RITZ meets the full-time entrepreneur, one of the first to make her foray into this unique service space from Kochi and Bengaluru.
Harsha Thachery is a qualified chartered accountant by profession, and suffice to say her calculative and analytical mind veered to one of the most unique concepts to have hit cyberspace. Her e-platform called Masala Box employees more than 100 home chefs from across Kochi and Bengaluru, delivering healthy home cooked meals and Sunday brunch spreads, through a pre-order and pre-booking system.
“Masala Box employs more than 100 home chefs from across Kochi and Bengaluru, delivering healthy home cooked meals and Sunday brunch spreads”
Though the initial planning for this venture started in 2012 when Harsha was homebound as she was expecting a baby, it took her several years to research the idea, crunch the appropriate numbers into the designated place, make a concrete business plan, draw up projections and most importantly, hire the right home chefs. “It was a huge challenge to convince the chefs we found out of Kochi as it was a completely new concept for them,” tells Harsha, recalling the initial days of struggle. Eventually, in 2014, she and her team were finally ready to launch the business. “Although it might look like an easy business to start, the reality is quite the opposite. Apart from the initial investment, we have pumped in money mainly to support our customer acquisition strategy. The entire venture is bootstrapped with investments coming in from friends and family,” explains Harsha.
The website has a menu that’s been listed for the week. Each dish on the menu has details of the home chef who is preparing it, the product description and a rating against each dish. “We hire chefs after thorough scrutiny; this involves interviews with the chef, an inspection of their kitchen to ensure that it compiles to the norms of our FSSAI food registration and only then do we hire them. Once hired, surprise quality checks continue and proactive and reactive feedback from customers help in maintaining quality and standards,” she tells us.
Being a chef-centric model, masala box doesn’t have centralised recipes and the chefs decide the menu. The company intervenes only when the menu choices are repetitive, for example when more than one chef is offering the same dish at the same time. The food thus prepared from each of the chefs is brought to a common hub, from where the logistics team delivers it to the customer. “The biggest plus at Masala Box is that there is absolutely no wastage in the kitchen as all orders are pre booked. The number of orders taken are only as much as the chefs can handle and they don’t cook if they don’t get orders!” explains Harsha.
Menus are simpler for Kochi as customers are not very experimental when it comes to food. “Bengaluru is a more challenging market as it’s a more cosmopolitan crowd and competition from various avenues is higher,” she adds. However Harsha has more rapid expansion plans for Bengaluru and is choosing to be a bit more conservative in her expansion plans for Kochi.