Aruj Garg, founder of Bhukkad, a chain of natural fast food joint, almost hit the wall in his entrepreneurial journey. Quick to realise his mistakes he was back on the bicycle to fix what he got wrong as a founder.
Like many entrepreneurs, the idea for Bhukkad emerged from a personal need – for food that tastes good, is healthy and natural and easy to make – something that I was able to crack. Today, in its present avatar, Bhukkad as a company aims to help people lead a healthy and fit life by serving them wholesome food in a quick service format.
However, when you start something, little do you anticipate it going wrong even though it looks great from outside. The problem becomes acuter if you are a solo founder. At Bhukkad, I too made mistakes. Ok, but what next? I was able to correct them in time and use it as organizational and personal learning. Here are the mistakes I made, learned from and moved on…
I DID NOT KEEP A CHECK ON MY FINANCES: I faltered on this one and initially, like many other startups and did not monitor the P&L. The finances took a hit and I realized it’s very important to start looking at P&L early on. Since the past six months, this has become a practice with me and has helped a lot. It’s also good to have an efficient finance resource who can analyze for you and tell you – this is how much we have and for how long. Any cost saving is good for a startup. I feel for most startups it’s largely about raising money and growing. However, do not ignore P&L in this equation.
I HIRED TOO FAST AND EXPANDED TOO QUICKLY: I burnt a lot of money setting up stores and increasing the headcount without a realistic view of the progress we were making. Eventually, this affected the business adversely. In December 2015 I had four to five units, but by February 2016 I had to shut them down and reserve whatever cash was left. l also right-sized the company. It took me 4-5 months to stabilize post this and get the fundamentals together. Now I am back on track. I opened a new store last month.
I TRIED BEING EVERYTHING TO THE CUSTOMER AND DILUTED THE VALUE PROPOSITION: Bhukkad was always an offline seller, but I got carried away and decided to join the food tech bandwagon when it was already late. Not only did I face cash burn but the business also suffered. Eventually, my mentors had to pull me out of it and suggested that I go back to my original model of physical retail and building more stores with time. I realized that in my rushed effort to be part of the party I had lost focus on the value proposition that Bhukkad offered. I figured I had to stick to Bhukkad’s philosophy and keep that as my USP and not food tech.