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Chillibreeze Interview with Neha Sharma
Neha is a young versatile personality with a passion to learn and lead. A food technologist, she has always enjoyed being an all-rounder and not being enveloped in a bracket of work. This conclusively brought her into starting a venture of her own, Fruitz Koncepts, which is unique, innovative and one-of-its kind in the country.
1. What is ‘Food Technology’? Tell us more about your career path.
It is also referred as ‘Post Harvest Technology’, which means all steps, procedures, and technologies involved in making an agricultural commodity reach from farm to fork. I chose this degree because I think this is the most dynamic one of all. I can say this because whatever may happen, people will never stop eating, thus, food processing will always remain a versatile industry and has tremendous opportunities to learn and grow in. After completion, I got the opportunity to work with India’s largest Industry Association, CII, in the area of Food Regulation for 3 years. This gave an extra edge to my knowledge in the area. I then moved to a private company, worked for a year to understand the business. Conclusively, I have always been keen to learn something new, a challenge may be, but it has been exciting to explore new areas and developments. I think this confidence and zeal helped me to set up my venture which happened to be most unique in the Indian market.
2. What does Fruitz Koncepts do? How do you make it work?
Fruitz Koncepts has introduced a unique and innovative concept of ‘Fresh Fruit Bouquets’ (100% edible assortments of exotic fresh fruits meant for gifting/ snacking) - for the first time in India, with its current home delivery services available in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.
We have our own Kiosks and store to serve fruit bouquets and fruit products, namely, salads, juices, smoothies etc. to our customers.
I am a fruit lover and have been enjoying this commodity with various seasonal fruits available in the Indian market. Being in the food sector, I realized that fruits are amply available in India but we are underutilizing this amazing gift of nature. Additionally, our market is dominated by junk food when it comes to partying or snacking. This kept popping in my mind until I decided to make it work and there came this idea of fresh fruit bouquets. With this concept, I thought that I would be able to make a big difference in people’s preference over their snacks or party gifts.
4. How did it feel to give up a steady job and plunge into the risk of starting your own business? What kind of support structure did you need in terms of help, creative minds etc.?
It’s been an interesting but a challenging journey so far. When you are in a so called comfortable zone of a steady work profile and salary per month, it is certainly quite difficult to come out of it. But I was very clear about this after being in the office job environment for a good 4 years. My whole family supported me with a single voice. I was confident about my idea, about how I will take it further and the rest was to come on its own. Major efforts were pulled in to train my staff for a concept which was entirely new. Secondly, taking the concept to the customers was a huge job. Both targets had their own tough spots but my education and the confidence that my schooling and college groomed me with, helped me tremendously to remind me not to give up, and I kept moving.
We source from our local suppliers who provide us with seasonal as well as exotic fruits. We have different ranges meant for different clients and their customized requirements.
6. Do you supply your products in Delhi alone or are they available in other states as well? Can people buy your products online?
Our products are available in 5 cities – Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad. We are available to our international and domestic customers through our online store which is for everyone to order fresh fruit bouquets from us.
7. Availability of fruits, price hikes, seasonal fruits, perishable nature of your raw material etc. must be some of the challenges in your business. Tell us more about these and other challenges and how you overcome them.
Our fruit bouquets have picked up a satisfactory market since their inception, yet we had to develop a chain to bring down the cost of the purchase given high fluctuations on a daily basis as well as utilising the fruits well. This calculation, brought us to open kiosks in food courts of different malls wherein we could make excellent and additional commercial use of fresh fruits in the form of fruit salads, smoothies, juices, shakes etc. We are now selling in the food court at Pacific Mall, Kaushambi and at the PVR, Mahagun Metro Mall. This whole set-up brought considerable cost reduction in purchasing our raw material as well as planning in advance.
8. Any products other than bouquets? (cakes, candied fruits etc.) Also, any specific tips for handling, storing and consuming these edible fruit bouquets?
Fruitz Koncepts, in addition to serving fresh fruit bouquets, has two kiosks in malls in the NCR region, where we serve fresh fruits and their various derivatives like juices, smoothies, salads etc. to walk-in customers. Additionally, during festivals, we also serve chocolate dipped dates.
Fruitz Koncepts prepare and deliver Fruit Bouquets in the most hygienic conditions, with no exposure to open air until it reaches the customer. We advise our customers to keep the bouquets at a cool temperature, away from direct sunlight and that it should be consumed within 6-8 hours after they receive it. Fruits can be stored in the refrigerator too but that is entirely the customer’s individual choice.
9. Any piece of advice to those who want to venture out on their own into the food industry?
I believe every venture has its own challenges but the most common advice to all entrepreneurs is, keep a strong belief in your service and always aim to serve the best to your customers. The food industry is the best place to be in as people may cut down on buying clothes, accessories, gadgets etc. but they would never stop eating. This makes it a huge market to tap. Put your 100% into your business. Success will follow!
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