From Techie to Batter: A Food-preneur who Blended the Perfect Startup Recipe
Talk of home business for women and you don’t exactly get the image of a sharp financial manager. One chat with Selvalakshmi is all it takes for you to do a double take. This is the story of a woman who fell in love with startups. Meet Selvalakshmi K M, Founder of FarmztoFamiliez and a food-preneur who has been involved with two startups in the past five years. Also an avid runner, she has completed four half-marathons in 2018 and claims that most of her business lessons with respect to persistence, endurance, and self-motivation comes from running. HerMoneyTalks got a ringside seat to her blockbuster startup story.
Before you can catch your breath, Selvalakshmi is off the blocks with this intriguing anecdote. “When in 7th std, someone told me that I had a bad voice. So I used to practice singing by myself early in the mornings, at 5 am. I won the 2nd prize too, just to prove them wrong. That is me!”
Years later, this same feisty singer matured into an established entrepreneur and founded FarmztoFamiliez (F2F). F2F makes some of the best, healthiest, and freshest breakfast options available in easy ready-to-use form. It is an all-women enterprise with a staunch mission to restore the traditional recipes to their former pristine glory.
The right batter for starting a home business for women
Home business for women was far from Selvalaskhmi’s mind when she joined technology behemoth TCS. She worked there for 5 years before venturing into business with a firm mission to become a successful business woman.
Pressed for a reason, Selvalakshmi puts it simply. “Trying out new things is my passion.” As an entrepreneur, she opines that focus, persistence, and everyday small efforts are the key to success. This flavor of her personality is evident from her other achievements. From marathons to Bharathanatyam to even DJ-ing, this sharp multi-tasker has done it all!
We started in 2016 from our home kitchen serving the customers in one apartment. Within four years, we had customers from around 450 apartments in north Bangalore.
The conversation veers back to F2F. “We started in 2016 from our home kitchen serving the customers in one apartment. Within four years, we had customers from around 450 apartments in north Bangalore. We serve 4500 customers in a week,” states Selvalakshmi emphatically.
The F2F founder began her journey by marketing a single product – multi-grain batter. Today, she serves 80+ products, ranging from the ultra-fresh batters and chutneys, to several millet-based products.
“I was extremely passionate about my idea and the work since the very beginning. My confidence grew with that positive outcome,” adds Selvalakshmi. She claims that if she has the right team, effort, and mindset, she could do 5x sales in 2 years’ time. Not a tall order, given her track record!
When the going gets hot
“Identifying the right team for my company and convincing family members to continue the business was a great challenge initially,” recalls Selvalakshmi. She never hesitated to ask for help. Through word-of-mouth publicity, she built a great team of 17 people who swear by her energy and verve.
“We used to pump in money for the daily operations until our second year. As all our orders are prepaid, we had no credit issues and were not in a hurry to scale up faster,” continues Selvalakshmi. Right from the day one, this sharp-shooter took all the financial decisions. Right from pricing, to sourcing of funds, Selvalakshmi handled it all, and yet is still on a mission to learn from the best.
I just took my car at 12.45 a.m. when the road was piled up with trucks and Lorries. I call it passion. Others say I am crazy about business.
Selvalakshmi simply dotes on her business, and this was evident in one striking incident. “I still remember that day, when the staff appointed to pick up the stock couldn’t make it. It was midnight. I risked my personal safety and went to pick up the stock myself. I just took my car at 12.45 a.m. when the road was piled up with trucks and Lorries. Well, I call it passion. Others say I am crazy about business,” laughs Selvalakshmi.
Her future plans in business include the expansion of her delivery circle, creation of 999 variety dosa batters from her brand, and to meet 5x sales by 2022. F2F has thus become a model home business for women.
Cherry-picking financial management tactics for success
The F2F founder gets into a reflective mood. “Being a woman entrepreneur, I can say having better financial awareness helps. In home business for women, it helps in understanding balance sheets and financial statements. That in turn motivates us to make the best money decisions. Balance sheets are not rocket science and by thorough learning one could become an expert finance manager.”
Selvalakshmi has a recipe for women who want to become better money managers and entrepreneurs:
(1) Never experiment new products on a bigger scale
(2) Be frugal and mindful on your spending
(3) Try to cut down the cost by reducing wastage
(4) Improve operational efficiency to save money
(5) Give back a portion of profit to society
Selvalakshmi has led F2F to grow from 25 to 4000 customers in just 3.5 years. Her organization was selected as one of the top 10 startups by IIMB Goldman Sachs. F2F has established a vertical named F2FCare – a small CSR initiative where they serve idlis to 100 underprivileged people every week.
The swashbuckling food-preneur winds up the conversation on a positive note for aspiring women entrepreneurs. She feels that this is a golden time for budding entrepreneurs, with so many support systems available all around.
“If you have a compelling idea, passion, and ability to identify a market gap, don’t think too much about the what if’s. Just get started and things will automatically fall in place!”
Solid advice from someone who’s done it before.
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