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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

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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

Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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