From BPO Giant to Mira’s Kitchen
By Resmi Jaimon
Ritu Sharma is an MBA graduate and has worked as a Senior HR professional in a number of blue chip companies like Accenture, PwC as well as India’s most successful BPO giant Genpact. After a successful corporate career spanning 15 years, Ritu, after the birth of a daughter, decided to do something on her own for a work personal life balance. And thus was born – Mira’s Kitchen
Techgoss (TG): How did you come up with the concept of Mira's Kitchen?
Ritu Sharma (RS): Mira's Kitchen is named after my 15 months old daughter Mira. Mira's Kitchen is essentially a catering service at this time, targeted towards serving delicious homemade healthy food to parties and occasions in Bangalore. It started with our experience of ordering food for our daughter's birthday party from an external caterer. Despite requests, the food delivered to us was so spicy that adults and kids had a hard time eating the food. It was this experience, which set us thinking on how to provide good quality healthy and kid’s friendly food. We designed our menu in such a way that all the food is loved by both kids and adults and is easy to serve and pack. Since we operate from my home kitchen, we wanted to keep it simple and it is also reflected in the name that we picked for the enterprise.
TG: What makes Mira's Kitchen different from other caterers?
RS: To start with, our range of offerings covers not only Indian but also other cuisines. We have observed that most people are interested in serving food to their guests which is a deviation from the standard Indian party food like samosas and pav bhajis. People want to experiment with non-Indian food which is available at affordable price range as well maintains the health quotient - less spicy, non-oily, fresh ingredients etc. Mira's Kitchen strives to operate in that space. Our menu comprises of a lot of non-Indian food like pasta's, wraps, tarts, etc. at a reasonable price and it is all homemade. We do not stock our food (raw or cooked), we source our ingredients from the same stores where people buy groceries and hence no compromises on the quality of the ingredients. We package our food for delivery in the most hygienic way and all our deliveries so far have been on or before time.
TG: How does your family and friend help in the functioning of Mira's Kitchen?
RS: I cannot thank my family enough to help me in this venture. My husband supports and helps me all the way from sourcing ingredients, to cooking, to delivering food despite having a full time day job. Whenever, we have large orders, my brother drops in to help us with cooking. We operate as a team and I don't think I would have been able to do this without their support.
TG: Did you ever attend any course related to cooking?
RS: Not yet. Most of my culinary skills have been picked from my own interest and recipes passed down from family. But I do plan to attend some specialized courses in baking and cooking in the future to foster creativity and variety in the kitchen's food offering.
TG: What are the challenges you faced while setting up Mira's Kitchen? How did you overcome the problems you faced?
RS: The biggest challenge was to translate cooking experience from cooking for 2 people to cooking for 50 people. If you look at this challenge, it opens a variety of sub challenges - how and where to source material from, how to plan the execution when you have a time limit, how to price the food so that as a business you make some profit, and a lot of other such small and big questions. Moreover, since we operate from home, our challenges also range from space issues to others like using small stove burners (which take up a lot of time). All, I can say is, that there is not a single way to overcome these challenges but it mostly comes from experience and striving not to repeat mistakes. The other single largest challenge is to strike a balance between being a caterer and a mother. When you have a 1 year old, the challenges just multiply in more ways than one. All one needs at that time is a little more support from family and I have been lucky that I have always received that support.
TG: Tell us your educational and professional background.
RS: I am a MBA graduate and was working as a HR professional in the Talent Acquisition and Development space till 2014. I have worked with companies like Genpact, Accenture and PwC for more than 15 years.
TG: What made you quit the steady-paying IT job and take the plunge to start Mira's Kitchen?
RS: After the birth of our little baby in 2013, I decided to take a break from the corporate world to take care of my daughter. The reason for this was no option for two reasons - one no help at home to take care of the baby and did not get an extension of leave at work. I was given the same travel role and no flexibility in working hours. We experimented with an external help at home to take care of the baby and she never got comfortable with her or rather never went to her. So the only option I had was the quit the job and take care of the baby.
When my daughter was about to turn a year old I decided to extend my break further and wanted to do something where I had the flexibility to take care of the family as well as pursue something which I was passionate about. I looked at this break as an opportunity to take my passion for cooking at a professional level and take one step further towards entrepreneurship.
TG: Has Facebook helped you in promoting Mira's Kitchen? How else do you promote Mira's Kitchen?
RS: Facebook has been the primary advertising medium for us so far. Apart from this we have promoted the kitchen at a personal level to with help from friends and acquaintances. We also try to organize food stalls in public events (carnivals and exhibitions in the apartments) to gain popularity.
TG: What are your future plans for Mira's Kitchen?
RS: We plan to continue to operate in our current model over next 6 months to one year and then try to enter into catering service space for corporates and large events. We are also hopeful that at some point in time we will be able to open a sit down restaurant.
Techgoss Note: Resmi Jaimon is a Kerala based freelance writer, who is now keen on exploring visual media through talk shows, food and travel shows. More about her at her website