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INTERVIEW

“Vision is to enable cooking tasty meal sans compromising on health”
Monday, 21 September, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Wonderchef is a leading cookware and kitchen appliances brand that enables customers cook healthy and tasty food with convenience. Its products are available in more than 8,000 retail outlets across the country. It has its own TV shopping shows and is a leading brand in e-commerce business and sells through a dynamic channel of over 50,000 self-employed, motivated and trained women entrepreneurs. The customised recipes are created for every unique product, which is done by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. These receipes are shared with the customers through receipe books, social media interactions and dedicated apps. Ravi Saxena, MD, Wonderchef Home Appliance Pvt. Ltd, talks about his collaboration with Kapoor, challenges, precautions taken during the pandemic and more, in an email interview with Vijetha Iyer. Excerpts:

How did you come up with the idea of the company?
After launching as many as 12 new businesses, I finally decided to become a full-fledged entrepreneur in 2009 and thus the idea evolved. The vision behind starting the company was to enable every Indian to cook a tasty meal without compromising on health. The thought behind establishing it was based on the interactions with the Indians travelling around the world, who provided insights about the latent kitchen needs that became the cornerstone of the business model of the company.

How did you collaborate with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor to launch the brand?
I was heading to the hospitality business of Dubai-based Landmark Group, at that time I had taken master-franchise of the chef’s restaurant brands in the company, and we really enjoyed working with each other. We conceptualised the company together and Chef Kapoor became a founding partner. He is also the face of the brand and his recipes power our unique products.

Both, me and Kapoor, have always focussed on technology and innovation so as to ensure that a new brand was able to cut through the clutter in a rather traditional industry.

What are the challenges you face while launching the brand?
The first one is to make the choice of which business you want to launch and why. One has to play to his or her own strengths and believe in what is unique to them.

The second one is the choice of founding partners. It is like a marriage. If the partners are not right, the business will be over, before it begins. People must come together not because of excitement or obligation but because they truly believe in the business model and in each other.

Third, one must review the business with a dispassionate perspective every six months. Certain hard decisions might have to be taken while it might also require pivoting or having a radically different approach. One must not shy away from that.

Are your products available in international markets?
We operate across India and other nations (Australia, Mauritius, the US, UK, UAE, Maldives) and cater not only to the Indian diaspora but also to the locals with customised offerings suiting their needs.

How is your team operating during the pandemic?
Our team has been working during the pandemic out of home, but with full enthusiasm and efficiency. We have spent this time in learning and creating together. We have done many process innovations and grown together as a team. This is helping the business now.

How are you going to ensure safety in your products?
The company is launching many new products related to customer safety. We are going to ensure that our customers have access to reliable and affordable solutions for sanitising, disinfecting and safe living.

How are you training your staff to work safely under the new circumstances?
Our staff is well-aware about the safety measures to be taken. We are not operating with full capacity. We are working with 10 per cent capacity rule so we follow the social distancing guidelines. Apart from this, all the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are been implemented at our company.

What are the precautions taken while delivering your products during this pandemic?
Our warehouses are completely sanitised everyday and there is a regular testing. Moreover, we are following ‘safe delivery’ norms where the delivery person need not come in touch with the customer even for payment collection.

How much time do you think it would take to fully recover from the impact of the lockdown and the pandemic?
The impact of the pandemic outbreak now has gone beyond our expectations. We were expecting that this once in a century disaster would be curtailed in a couple of months but now it seems that it would be another 5-6 months for the businesses to recover from the jolt it has given.

I would still say that the Indian government has been quite proactive in tackling the situation. Be it the lockdown phase or unlock phase, the government has been considering all the aspects.

We are well prepared for the aftermath of the pandemic. We already had plans to enhance our e-commerce platform and now we are doing it a bit earlier. E-commerce sales will see a surge as people will prefer online shopping for some time now in order to follow social distancing.

Customers are looking forward to resort to routine as they brace up for the coming days. They had deferred their purchases owing to the slowdown, however we expect the sales to surge once everything returns to normalcy. The transition will be slow but will definitely happen and we are well prepared for the same.
 
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