Food. It plays such an important role in our lives. Just take a look at our mythology: everything changed when Eve took a bite of the apple. Da Vinci’s Last Supper tells a whole other tale. But one thing has stayed constant — Food. As the internet began invading our lives, it has also opened the doors to many international cuisines. For one, we have access to everything right at our fingertips. You can actually have food delivered to you and there are multiple apps that will serve your food hot and yum.
I’ve never set foot in Italy and I claim pizza is my comfort food! You see what I mean? While food is vital for survival, it is also a niche industry thriving on our passion to explore more.
It’s time I introduce Rahul Hazarika, an entrepreneur who stands out of the herd. What sets him apart? His food-filled heart! Yes, that’s right. Driven by his passion for food and beverages, Rahul began his company One Stop kitchen in Guwahati, Assam.
As fascinating as One Stop Kitchen sounds, Rahul tells me he started his company out of frustration. While he was doing his MBA in Bangalore, he enjoyed the luxury of the internet-based apps that would get him a cab, book tickets, order food or anything he needs with just a tap. But heading back to Guwahati, he was frustrated at getting stuck in traffic just to grab a burger or waiting long queues to get a table. All that pent-up frustration jolted Rahul to establish OSK and voila, customers could now access restaurants right to their doorstep! The company clocks an average of 150–180 orders a day today.
I had the privilege to talk with Rahul recently and it all circled back to one thing: FOOD! When he finds free time, he visits different food joints and tries out something new. Plus, he’s also a certified level 1 wine connoisseur. “After food what comes is my love for wines,” he tells me.
I asked him a couple of questions and here’s what he answers:
Can you tell us about the current scenario of cloud kitchen industry in India?
It gives me such a pleasure to say that those who laughed at me once are following what I started. Being the first-ever cloud kitchen in the northeast, there were a lot of concerns and questions about my dreams. Thanks to the food aggregator giants, the cloud kitchen model is booming like anything now. It’s also cost-effective when compared to a restaurant. You just need a team and space to cook, that’s it. As per the estimates, the food delivery business is going to touch $7,730M in 2019.
Being one of the young entrepreneurs of this era, what do you think about the startup ecosystem in India?
Oh, starting a venture in India is equally easy and tough. As they say: “If you conquer the Indian market, you conquer the world market.” An entrepreneur goes through a lot on a daily basis, from business to personal. One needs to be really strong mentally while starting this journey. I have met a lot of people who want to start something and the first thing I ask is how hard can they take a hit. We need to be mentally strong and work our ass off to make our dreams come true.
been a real roller-coaster ride. I still remember when I told my father that I wanted to be an entrepreneur he was so angry with me. Today, he makes sure that he is always there for me.
According to the stats, the highest labour turnover in the country is in the F&B industry. The struggle with the issue is a big one. And especially for a place where unprofessionalism is on a different level. Luckily, I have somehow acquired the best team possible! In the service industry, your customer relationship is all that matters. Everyone has different taste in food, some like it spicy while some like to have food with less salt. Therefore it very important that we provide the best of the best quality food to our customers.
How does it feel when people tell you that you have been their inspiration? Or when they meet you and greet?
There have been a lot of times when I wanted to give up. The only thing which has been pushing me constantly is the love and support of so many people. When a stranger comes up to me or drops a message saying ‘thank you so much for bringing OSK to our lives’, it is something money can never buy. And it will be really unfair if I compare it with anything else.
While Rahul’s life sounds exciting today, it’s because he’s poured out his blood, sweat, and tears. In fact, he tells me that his work-life balance sucks! He begins his day around 9 by watching videos of his favourite vloggers and reading different articles on startups. He skips breakfast (a habit he’s working hard to change) and heads to OSK to work from 11 AM to 10 PM, which is filled with new battles every day. But he has a strong support system of parents, family, friends and his girlfriend who understand him and push him to achieve greater heights.
Rahul lives by a quote said by Reid Hoffman:
An entrepreneur is one who jumps off the cliff and builds a plane on the way down.
With this mantra fused in his mind, Rahul is hustling to raise OSK to the national platform.