Rashmi Daga, the FreshMenu woman held on to her entrepreneurial bug even after a first failure

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Running around the whole day attending meetings or classes only to get back home starving and too tired to cook…or even worse to food as inedible as it gets? Yes, we all know that sinking feeling! What follows? Empty boxes of junk and unhealthy pizza piling up each day!

To arrest this issue and more, Rashmi Daga came up with the Bangalore based food-tech company- FreshMenu.

FreshMenu is an online food delivery service that brings freshly chef-prepared meals to your desk or home. It was initially a small idea that has now turned 1000+ employee enterprise serving 30000+ customers every day across Bangalore, Delhi/NCR and Mumbai.

The founder Rashmi Daga has been nothing short of pure brilliance right from the outset. Academically outstanding, she pursued her MBA from IIM Ahemdabad post a B.E from Delhi College of Engineering.

She gained valuable work insights via her corporate success at some of the biggest companies. She was the Sales Head at OlaCabs.com. She worked at IBM too as a business manager and for regional sales at Johnson & Johnson Ltd.

So how was it that Rashmi went on to becoming an entrepreneur and leaving her immensely successful corporate career behind? Her story is quite an interestingly complex turn of events.

In actuality, FreshMenu was not her first entrepreneurial endeavour. In fact, she had always had that startup bug in her.

Rashmi says “I’ve always dreamt about owning a listed company,” “I worked at a start-up and then bootstrapped a start-up in 2011.”

Due to her love for art and craft, she wanted to create an ‘Etsy’ type marketplace in India. There was nothing like it in the country at the time. From this idea, stemmed her first startup – ‘Afday.com’.

However, this category had a limited ready market then. Raising funds was difficult and she realized a lack of the product-market fit.

One might think that such a loss of money and time would have killed the entrepreneurial bug in her, but this was never the case.

She did, however, go back to the corporate life for a while before starting her second take at entrepreneurship. However, she believes that this break was but essential. It helped her learn better from the failure of her first endeavour. She now was thinking from a point of scalability too.

Despite her setback with her first go, she mustered the courage and started FreshMenu in October 2014. This time more equipped with the practical considerations of running a business.

What attracted her to the food-tech industry though? Well, it was her love for good food and personal experiences that made apparent a need in the market.

She was a mother with a full-time job and an unreliable cook. The nearest place selling food as per her preferred quality standards was also quite at a distance. This got her thinking.

What’s more? The sheer size of the industry was too attractive to go amiss.

“The food industry worth is $50 billion industry and growing at 25 percent CAGR. And the insight to start up was realising that ‘Staying in is the new going out – the new normal’.”

On launching FreshMenu, she focused on each detail. From the overall design, cloud-kitchen based model, to the menu innovations and user-friendly packaging. She set up the kitchen in less than a month as opposed to the 3-month minimum requirement predicted by the chef for the same.

Currently, the platform serves a new menu each day ranging across ‘fresh’ category of meals such as salads, sandwiches and combos. They cover a variety of cuisines from Italian to Lebanese to Continental. What’s more? Staying true to their health-centric concept, one can now order keto diet specialities and the like.

Revenues for FY17 amounted to INR 72 crore (118% growth from the previous year). 22 million+ USD has been raised so far by the company.

Rashmi has achieved a great deal since FreshMenu is doing exceptionally well in a space where many similar start-ups have miserably failed.

She rightfully has bagged prestigious awards such as the 2018 ET-Facebook women Ahead award and the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’ at ETPrime Women Leadership Awards 2019.

The mantras she follows at work is to make time for creativity. She brainstorms about new ideas and process upgrades on a daily basis while sitting at the cafe or ideating late at night.

She interacts with her team to problem solve. She places importance on the fresh viewpoints of outsiders and third parties for the growth of the company.

For Rashmi, it is “The smile on the face of customers” that motivates her.

Follow your passion, plan well and never look back,” is what Rashmi lives by and propagates.

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