Running your own business isn’t a walk in the park – but these young entrepreneurs sure make it look like a cinch!
Four young entrepreneurs, four very different businesses, and four equally different approaches to running their ventures. From setting up design studios to retail stores and more, these inspiring youngsters have certainly caught Chennai’s (and our) eye. We sat down with four of Chennai’s fledgling yet successful entrepreneurs and delved deep into how their ventures came to be, while staying ever-resilient through the pandemic.
Text: SIDDHARTH KUMAR
Hitting All The Right Spots
The possibilities of an entrepreneurial venture began to take root when Zeeshan Anees, Mohammed Samee, Mohammed Faraaz and Abdul Ahad started working together at an event agency. However, when they met Pooja Reddy, they stumbled upon a fantastic opportunity that brings together Chennai’s famous home bakers under one retail space – Sweet Spot. A dessert studio that showcases the best picks from what Chennai’s home bakers have on offer in the form of a physical retail outlet, Sweet Spot has been making waves in the Chennai food scene.
Could you tell us a little more about how Sweet Spot came to be?
All of us are passionate about food and desserts in particular – and we wanted to do something in the home baker dessert space. Sweet Spot evolved from a simple idea to coalesce famous home bakers onto a singular platform.
The concept of a retail store for home bakers is undoubtedly a novel one – what made you choose this space within the food industry for your venture?
As we’d mentioned, we are all passionate foodies, but unfortunately, none of us have any experience or background in the food industry. So, it only made sense to partner with people who know the industry. Another factor that prompted us was seeing a boom in the home baking business during the pandemic; it was a natural progression from a basic idea to opening our dessert outlet. We honestly did not know what to expect, but it’s been a great learning experience thus far.
What is a go-to philosophy that you employ in your professional life?
Innovation and transparency. Since it’s a relatively new business model, we constantly innovate based on our sales data. We make it a point to keep a close watch over our range of products while changing our promotion and marketing strategy when potential opportunities come about.
Any key takeaways that you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
We can only say that if you have a viable idea – go for it! Just make sure to keep the initial investment small so that it’s not impossible to exit if things happen to go wary. What’s more, if you intend to partner with someone, make sure they have the skill set needed for your business to succeed.
How did you go about creating your roster of top home bakers?
We did a lot of research, to begin with. Since we have a team of 5 decision-makers, we started with products and bakers we all agreed upon. Since then, it’s been a very transparent process of product trials, discussions with the bakers, pilot runs of products and finally introducing the products in-store.
Managing and overcoming obstacles as an entrepreneur certainly comes with the territory – any particular instances proved a challenge to you?
We opened only a week before the second lockdown. During the entire lockdown period, we faced issues with receiving stock on time at our store, problems with delivery aggregators, curfews and staff shortages. Fortunately, we managed to overcome these issues as we were all hands-on in our operations. Looking back now, that was the most profitable run in our short tenure.
I’m sure you’d agree that good mentors play an essential role in creating successful entrepreneurs. Could you tell us more about who your mentors were and what it was like being taken under their wing?
Mentors play a significant role, and we have had the privilege of receiving good advice from our many friends in the industry and our parents, who have encouraged us to pursue this project.
Considering that the five of you are equally involved in Sweet Spot as a venture, how do you collectively go about crucial decision-making?
All of Sweet Spot’s critical decisions are taken only by unanimous agreement – it isn’t as hard a task as one would imagine if all partners have a single vision for the venture.
What are your plans, and where do you see the business going soon?
We are looking at opening more locations in Chennai, and if all goes well, we will have four stores in Chennai within the next six months. We are also proactively looking at other metros like Bangalore and Hyderabad and exploring the possibilities there. We’re considering a franchise model as well, but that’s in a very nascent stage at the moment.
How has the pandemic affected your business so far, and what steps have you taken to curb the effects it has had on your business?
Although we faced severe challenges, now when we look back at the pandemic and lockdown period, we have certainly managed to sustain. We’ve learnt a lot during that phase, and we now have systems in place with better delivery aggregators, transport and primarily and a very reliable workforce.