‘What would you like to do when you grow up?’ is a question put across to almost every kid. With little ideas we form at that age, some answers become reality while some tend to change over time.
Similar question was put across to a young Shachin Bhardwaj who, as told by his parents, always answered with, “I want to do business when I grow up.” The older Shachin Bhardwaj doesn’t even remember this happening, but this ambition of his has become a reality with ventures such as TastyKhana and SMINQ. “Personally the itch to entrepreneurship came to solve a problem I personally faced,” he says.
Co-founder and ex CEO at TastyKhana, the online food ordering company was among the first in the food tech space. The startup was then acquired by FoodPanda.
Unable to stay out of action for long, Shachin made his comeback with SMINQ, solving another problem he personally faced. Mapping his journey from one startup to another, we found out what it takes to build startups.Now that you think of your TastyKhana journey, what was the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenges we faced in early days of TastyKhana was to survive! Ensuring that you have enough money at end of month to not delay salary by even a day gave me many sleepless nights.
What helped me was my will. The way you address challenges is to first understand the facts and take decisions logically and not emotionally. Your will to succeed helps you overcome challenges.
What have you taken forward from that journey?
TastyKhana was a 7 year long journey and there were leanings all along the way. The main learning that I draw from TastyKhana experience is that you need to focus on execution and ensure customer delight everyday. I realized that things take time to build.
It was a good journey and we stuck around for a long time and put in a lot of efforts. But there were 100s of red flags we met midway, many mistakes we made along the way and luckily none of them were fatal for us.
What’s the new problem you’re trying to solve?
My new startup is also born out of my personal experience. What happened was that I was with my pregnant wife at a gynecologist clinic and we were waiting in a long queue. My wife was feeling hungry so wanted to step out for a quick snack and asked the receptionist to inform us if our turn is due. She just mentioned that there are so many people waiting and she can’t keep informing all via phone. If we miss our turn we will need to re-join the queue!
This made me think that there definitely has to be a better way. And hence, SMINQ was conceptualized as a way to make Queues virtual and help customers hold their spot without being physically present.
The need we are addressing here is people’s time. We want to make all waits transparent and allow users to use their time efficiently.
What are you plans for this initiative?
Well, it simply stands for ‘See Me In No Queue’ and that’s what we want to do. As people get more busy, we already see many people willing to pay a premium to help save their time. The idea is to make businesses more efficient and people more productive.
We see SMINQ as a big opportunity to help people save time.
What's your business facet set in stone?
Business ethics and honesty in work. Personally and at work we only work with people who want to build a business the right way.
Our office culture is also that of openness and transparency. We all love what we do, and the positive feedback that we get from our customers (as to how SMINQ helped them save hours of their time) helps keep the spirits high.
Chetan Shah. He was also our angel investor in TastyKhana and has been my mentor from day zero. He has given me my biggest learning to focus on real metrics like revenue and user growth and not build business on hype.
We know the low point, but what has been your A-ha Moment in the business?
There are 2 aspects to this – Since we are in a B2C business, every customer delight story is invariably an A-ha moment, and here there are numerous stories of how we have helped mothers to save hours for their kid through our startup.
The other side is the client side to which you provide the software and the customer access. Here one of the biggest A-Ha moments has been when the 3 most popular pediatricians in Pune decided to sign up for SMINQ.
Lastly, how have you changed on this journey?
I see a lot more humility in myself now.
As a salaried employee, when the amount hits your account every month you tend to not realize how hard it is to build a profitable business. When you hit lows in your life and manage to come out of it successfully later, this experience teaches you a lot about nuances of life and you tend to appreciate the small things in life and work.