Aaj Pakao: Making Homemade Food Accessible
Aaj Pakao provides a comprehensive range of ready-to-cook products that are accessible to everyone, including those who do not know how to cook. It was created in response to the founder surviving on canned food in the United States and returning to India to discover that canned food is expensive in our country. As a result, there was a large, untapped market of people looking for the experience of cooking authentic, homemade Indian food without the added pressure of extensive preparations or culinary skills.
Aaj Pakao’s offerings address all of these concerns. Aaj Pakao is a people-centric brand that focuses on meeting the cooking needs of Indian consumers – people between the ages of 25 and 40 can access these products and use them to prepare various delicacies that are also regionally specific in India. They already supply in India and around the world and plan to expand their product portfolio in the future.
They sought to address the prevalent issues in the ready-tocook segment. For example, their packaging is designed so that the products can be stored at room temperature for up to a year without being damaged. This is due to the use of retort technology; because they do not require refrigeration, they have benefited both their B2B and B2C clients. They also serve authentic food from various parts of India, the preparation for which is otherwise extensive.
As a result, they are able to provide variety, taste, and a longer shelf life with Aaj Pakao products. Each gravy, such as Pav Bhaji, Mangalorean Ghee Roast, Goan Xacuti gravy, and Chettinad gravy, represents a different region of India. The ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat market is expected to reach INR 4800 crore by 2024, growing at an 18% CAGR. They have experienced rapid growth as a company, increasing revenue from INR 3 lakh in the first year to INR 40 lakh in the second.
There is massive market demand from all over India and around the world. Today, Aaj Pakao produces nearly 15-20 tonnes of product per month and sells to customers in Indian cities and countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and various African nations.
The Journey As a Woman Entrepreneur
“There is a saying: a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step. I am glad I took that step when I returned to India and launched Aaj Pakao. My entrepreneurial journey has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. While studying and working in the US, I relied heavily on canned food. But when I returned to India, I found a lack of such options. There were hardly any ready-to-cook options for Indian consumers, and the existing ones were expensive or lacked taste and nutrition.
It was tough initially but became very exciting by the second year. I have been ably supported by my husband, who gave me strength even in times of doubt. Today, we are hitting more than INR 1 crore in revenue!” In her previous avatar, the Founder Prachi Patil worked as a project manager for a large corporate house. That was a unique experience that demanded a distinct mindset and skill set. The role of Founder and CEO of Suzu Agro is different–it is not limited to a single task. Her responsibilities include problem solving, team building, and product development.
As a founder, she believes that you must be willing to do anything to deliver results and ensure that the job is completed. The team is currently small, with each member assigned a specific task. Furthermore, each of them has some experience with the tasks at hand. The team does not attack multiple problems at once, but rather prioritizes and takes on one problem at a time, attempting to resolve it accordingly. They plan and streamline their tasks to keep things focused.
They also make certain that everything is documented in order to avoid future confusion. Women are making strides in every field, including entrepreneurship. Many female-led startups are making waves today, with one recently filing for an IPO. The founder is pleased to acknowledge that, in comparison to a few years ago, many policies in the business world today are assisting women in coming forward and excelling in their careers or the entrepreneurial space.
Much is being done, from period leave to maternity policies. It is an excellent time to be a woman entrepreneur in India, and the government has aided them with working capital and other initiatives. However, encouraging women in Tier 2 and 3 cities to come forward and bring their ideas to fruition by providing them with a platform is necessary. There is a lot of talent in these areas that needs to be nurtured.
Achievements and Future Plans
Despite being only a year and a half old, Aa Pakao has done exceptionally well. They have a global presence, which the Founder considers to be one of their most significant achievements. They were recently named one of India’s top 500 challenger brands. We were chosen as the most efficient startup model of the business year by MIT ADT University Pune. Aaj Pakao was also recognised by Start-up India, and they were given the opportunity to showcase their products at one of the first conventions they organized among the top 400 brands in India.
They have also increased revenue and introduced new products to the market. Prachi aims to have a presence for her brand in all countries with a large Indian population, particularly in Indian major supermarkets and Indian superstores. Also, within India, she would like to see Aaj Pakao present in all market trends and general trends with A and A+ ratings, as well as in areas with a young population. She has an objective to broaden their portfolio and cater to a wider range of customers, including students, travelers, office workers, working women and men, and so on.
Aaj Pakao hopes to create an extensive range of ready-to-cook Indian food products from every culinary region in India in the future. They will also allow for the customization of taste and ingredients, as well as targeting domestic and global audiences looking for delicious, healthy, and easy-to-cook food options. They intend to increase capacity in manufacturing and retail channels in India and all major markets where Indian food is popular.
Plans are in the works to expand their product line to include a variety of sauces, pastes, and gravies catering to a variety of cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, and others. They also want to serve the unorganized and underserved B2B market, where there is a high demand for large order sizes but a scarcity of quality suppliers. They also intend to seek venture funding from a like-minded investor in the future to fuel their expansion plans.
“I would advise women entrepreneurs to go all out with their plans with confidence. Be clear about the problem area you will solve with your startup and give it everything. Make a clear plan keeping the different aspects of a startup in mind.”- Prachi Patil, Co-founder and CEO, Aaj Pakao
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