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Musthafa PC CEO & Co-founder iD Fresh Food

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Mr. Musthafa is an engineer of Computer Science from NIT and alumni of prestigious IIM-B. He spent a few years working with other organizations in India and abroad. He very soon quit to start iD along with his 5 childhood friends, one that transformed their idea into a business reality and also ensured financial independence to many from their hometown. iD Fresh Food was a perfect merger of social and business ambitions.

Musthafa, the CEO of iD Fresh Food, is driving the dream of all 5 co-founders. The team vision of building a food company that made preservative-free, delicious, home cooked food is a successful reality in the form of iD Fresh Food in only 10 years! Quickly climbing the popularity charts with homemakers iD is a 500 crore brand with its footprint in South, East of India and UAE.

Born in Kerala, Musthafa loves to travel and explore. His work is his biggest passion. He has a keen eye for spotting trends and new innovations. He also enjoys sports and is an avid reader. Calm, humble, well-travelled and impeccably well-mannered, Musthafa is a people’s person. He strongly believes that there are no short cuts to success and no substitution to hard work and also values the homemaker’s contribution to a household.

Mr. Musthafa has also been lauded with many prestigious awards like JCI national award, Vocational excellence award, Entrepreneur India award etc. to name a few.

In your own words what is iD Fresh Food?

iD Fresh Food is the perfect professional assistant in the kitchen for the homemaker. It helps smart and busy people, rustle up 100% natural and authentic tasting Indian meal. It produces and delivers an array of ready-to-cook, fresh Indian home food to its customers every single day and takes pride in its home-made style of preparation.

How did you come up with the idea of iD Fresh Food?

While studying at IIM-B, I started to discuss business plans with my maternal cousins. My cousin, Shamsudeen who ran a kirana store noticed that dosa batter that was then sold in plastic bags tied with a rubber band in nearby stores was in demand, especially among working women but was of poor & inconsistent quality. We decided to try selling batter, but with the difference being that we will use the best of ingredients and be consistent in quality.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up iD Fresh Food?

iD’s journey so far has never been an individual’s contribution. Five of us cousins- Nazer, Shamsudeen, Jafar, Naushad joined hands, took on a role each. We found a small place of around 50 square feet and started with two grinders, a mixer and a sealing machine and I decided to invest Rs. 25,000. And thus iD Fresh was born and our entrepreneurial journey.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup and if so, how did you guys overcome it?

We honestly faced a lot of challenges during and after the inception of the business.

  • The concept of fresh, natural, preservative free was hard for not just the consumers to believe but also the retailers and employees. There is no brand in the ready-to-cook segment which offers products that are free of additives and are 100% natural. It took some time for us to convince people and educate them about our core brand values which are- fresh, natural, no chemicals, traditionally made and authentic.
  • Besides we cater to the fresh food segment and hence the wastage is high.
  • Another main challenge was none of us having any sort of background in food technology or food industry.
  • As a team we adhere to certain principles and hence we always believe in growing business ethically aligned to our core values.
  • Cash flow too was a challenge as I had invested whatever savings I had to kick start the business

How have you been developing iD Fresh Food since startup ?

It’s very challenging to create a category, especially in the fresh food space which is crowded with local and regional players. iD has been a differentiator over the rest in the market with innovative packaging and unique product delivery which is offering fresh, natural preservative-free products every single day consistently.

What kind of feedback did you get for iD Fresh Food so far?

We get a lot of anecdotes from our consumers. The most often feedback we receive is that iD is a ‘life saver’ as it has reduced the arduousness of the homemaker and brings in harmony in the family.

Another feedback we receive often is that iD is as good as homemade and tastes authentic.

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry? What is your strategy against your competition?

The task at hand differs from region to region. For instance Chennai is a mature market with a lot of competition. Whereas Bangalore is a nascent market where there are not many players in the market. Our strategy differs region wise.

iD as a brand is known for its quality and we ensure we stick to our brand philosophy of providing fresh, chemical-free, natural food to our consumers. As per research we are a stickier brand over most large FMCG brands.

What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

RTC(Ready To Cook) segment is witnessing double digit growth. RTC will continue to grow faster compared to RTE(Ready To Eat) as Indian home makers need their credit. Fresh food and authentic ingredients like batter has great market potential in India.

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

We are very clear about our brand philosophy and we will continue to add products to our portfolio which is fresh, natural, preservative-free, authentic, Indian home-style food.

The future of ready-to-cook/ ready-to-eat industry in India is expected to grow exponentially with changing lifestyles, higher disposable income and increase in working population who are time crunched.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

We were getting 90% unsold market returns in the first few months of our inception. It took us 9 months to sell 100kg daily.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia? 

In Asia, parents and families have slowly started accepting the concept of entrepreneurship which wasn’t the case few years ago.

What is your definition of success?

If results are helping you to achieve the purpose of your life, it is success.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

The main reason of becoming an entrepreneur was to provide employment opportunities to the rural folks.

Another way of giving back to the society was by touching lives of millions of people across households by providing healthy, nutritious and fresh meals every single day.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

  • Being honest in the way we make our products (i.e.) make it the way a home-maker would make it
  • Trust & the faith in the capability of the team
  • Unconventional thinking
  • Old fashioned love for good Indian food
  • Interpreting modern technology and knowledge to serve our unique business model

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

  1. Listen to your heart – may be completely against the existing eco-system but that works.
  2. Stay true to your values and principles even if the going gets tough.
  3. Treat your team as family – respect their needs.
  4. Take help from anybody who is better than you in any field.
  5. There is no shortcut to success, hard work is the key.
  6. Trust your gut & take the leap of faith.
  7. Don’t let anybody bully you trusting their ideologies.
  8. Use technology – interpret it to suit your needs.
  9. Involve all trusted people in decision making.
  10. Reply to mails from anyone in 10 to 15 mins – plays a huge role in building your credibility & trust.

 

Callum Connects

Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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