Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ragoth Bala, co-founder of The Cumin Club, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Cumin Club offers vegetarian meal kits inspired by regional cuisines of India. Our meal kits take five minutes to prepare and start at $4.99 per meal. With protein-rich ingredients and authentic Indian flavors from different regions of India, The Cumin Club meal kits make it easy to serve a wholesome, soulful meal in minutes.
Many people find it challenging to find time to prepare nutritious meals, and it can be even more challenging to find high-quality, diverse vegetarian and vegan options at local restaurants or in cafeterias. The Cumin Club is the perfect solution for Indian food enthusiasts, Indian ex-pats, and vegetarians at large.
Tell us about yourself
Back in 2018, I was finishing my MBA at Chicago Booth while also working full-time. With little spare time, I found it difficult to eat right and even more difficult to find healthy and flavorful vegetarian options. Local Indian restaurants lacked what I consider “real” Indian food - that is, they were lacking the nutritious, balanced meals I was accustomed to eating growing up in India. My mom came to the rescue, all the way from India, by curating authentic ingredients she shipped from India to Chicago, and the idea behind The Cumin Club was born. Upon graduation, I moved back to India for six months to build the foundations of The Cumin Club. As a team of three co-founders, we soon developed 15 recipes, all using the novel freeze-drying technique, and launched www.thecuminclub.com in July of 2019.
Since then, we have been consistently motivated by our customers. Their appreciation for our meal kits drives us to do better every day. Over the next two years, we expanded nationwide, added 30+ recipes, and recently launched a virtual restaurant brand called The Cumin Bowl. At The Cumin Bowl, we bring the same authentic experience in Indian bowls that appeal to all types of consumers, from Indian ex-pats to those less experienced with Indian cuisine. Through these two brands and more, we look forward to making authentic Indian food readily accessible around the world.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I consider my team to be my biggest accomplishment. Building the right team is never easy and doing it across geographies is even more challenging. I focused most of my time on this aspect early on and was able to bring two amazing co-founders into the company with me. Since then, the three of us have grown the team to 15+ employees.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Staying on top of ever-changing customer preferences is the hardest yet rewarding aspect for me as a founder. It is extremely important to understand your current and potential customers, their wants and needs, and their habits (online and offline). This helps us develop and market the right products to the right customers in the right channels.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Write down a one-pager before you start. When you write it on paper, you will notice the flaws, address them and improve the idea in ways you never initially thought of.
- Have the one-pager reviewed by your friends (with a customer lens) and by trusted advisors (with a business lens). This refines your idea further and translates it into a viable business opportunity.
- Raise capital for more than just the capital. It is important to have the right investors on your side, but most of them don’t want to invest in ideas - they want to invest in actual businesses with real teams/products/revenues. So, bootstrap your business as long as you can and strategically open it up to investors who can advise you on the business and/or introduce you to the right vendors/customers/partners.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.