Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mona Ahmad, Founder of Mona's Curryations LLC, located in Saugus, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We make restaurant-inspired frozen skillet meals that represent Pakistani/Indian cuisine, are meals for two, and use only premium Halal and clean-label ingredients. Basically, we have done all the prep and then freeze the entrees raw so that the consumer just defrosts and cooks on the stove top or Instapot for a few minutes and then can enjoy with the naan we also include. Our customers are those who enjoy this ethnic cuisine, those who cook, those wanting some exciting meal solutions, those looking for Halal options, and those who want a culinary adventure in the kitchen!
Tell us about yourself
I was lucky to be born in Pakistan and luckier to have a mom that cooked delicious food for us all the time. No matter where we lived across the globe, our home was always filled with delicious textures, flavors, and aromas. But when I wanted to make this food for my family, I found I just didn’t have the time, and it’s because our food is actually considered one of the most difficult to make in the world. It’s because it is very labor intensive, time-consuming, and requires a multitude of ingredients; that’s why I created Mona’s Curryations! We have done all the prep, so the consumer just has to defrost, cook on the stovetop or instapot for a few minutes, and then can enjoy with the naan that is also included. Hence our skillet meals are our way of bringing our culture into your kitchens in an easy, delicious, and wholesome way, and that is what motivates me and the Mona’s Curryations brand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is understanding that it takes a village to get anything done. Yes, I came up with the idea, but I have an army of people who have helped guide me along the way to get me to the point where we are today. With God’s grace and a village of support, today we offer four varieties of our skillet meals, are in over 500 locations, in ten states, and most recently, honored to win third place in a 2022 poll on best new frozen food product in retail. As a mompreneur and someone who never had any experience in building a consumer product, I feel extremely thankful, grateful, and blessed for my village of support and the brand we are building.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I feel one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is trying to figure out how best to identify and reach your customers. Given that many of us are bootstrapping our businesses and have only so much capacity to do everything since I am the Chief Everything Officer, it is through trial and error that you eventually find your tribe of loyal customers and build your business into a successful business. Data and marketing can get expensive, but having a presence on social media is necessary these days. Luckily, there are also free resources at the city and state levels that can guide these areas. Not knowing how long this process can take is a challenge, but nothing that can’t be overcome!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My three tips would center around the entrepreneur, the business, and the environment. Regarding the entrepreneur, be ready for the long haul, have grit and passion, and have some coping mechanisms to help you grow as a person and manage all the ups and downs of having a business. Regarding the business, be flexible; only when you start selling your product will you have a better understanding of what the consumer wants you to start, stop, and continue and remember to try to do what is best for the business, be agile, and be practical. Thirdly, regarding the environment, understand there are certain things you can control in business, while other things you just can’t. Hence, for things you can’t control, stay calm and think of workable solutions that may be outside the box, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or mentor to talk it thru. Don’t be so hard on yourself; you are doing great, and your journey will be amazing, stay positive. You got this!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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