How I Went From Baker To Entrepreneur… In An Examination Hall!

Posted on July 22, 2016 in #MyStartupStory, Entrepreneurship
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By Shiv Kumar Madaan:

I started cooking in Class 8. A few years later I was baking. I even appeared for a hotel management entrance exam but was too immature to take the right decision then. Instead, amidst the frenzy of Delhi University cut-offs in 2013, I managed to secure a seat in Sri Venkateswara College for my undergraduate studies in Statistics. But somewhere between studying for my actuarial exams and hogging food in the bylanes of Satya Niketan, my baking venture ‘Demould‘ started taking shape.

In those days, my olfactory system played havoc with my will to study, and time and again, I would abandon my gastronomical inklings in hopes of getting over my obsession. But one day, as I sat in an exam hall, trying hard to fill sheets of paper with at least some blue ink, I finally gave in.

In those three hours, I quickly drafted a rough framework of what was required to start a baking business of my own – from managing my limited savings to one day being a household name in the bakery business. That effectively marked the end of my student life and the start of my journey as a ‘bako-preneur’.

Being a bright student from a lower middle class family, my parents were not prepared to let me take such a big risk, and even today, they are at times critical of my decision. Nevertheless, with little to no support from those around me and absolutely no culinary training, I took the plunge. In October 2015, I started ‘Demould‘, part-time, at first. But now, this home-based baking is my full-time passion and profession. We make cupcakes, cakes for every occasion and ‘cakars’ (cake in a jar), and it’s round-the-clock delivery within Delhi NCR.

Starting Out

My biggest hurdle starting out, was the lack of funds as set-ups costs in baking are capital-intensive. So, to kickstart things, I used up my savings from the tuition I taught in my initial years of college. But those did not last long. Luckily, we started building our social media presence from Day 1, and this is what has helped us get orders. ‘Demould’ social media pages are always active, and most of the bulk orders that I have received are via our Facebook page, and by joining various groups that are relevant to my industry. I also realised quite quickly that the pictures you post must be perfect with proper lighting and all.

in text shiv
Posted on Facebook by Demould.

Another thing that helped us spread the word was our stalls at college fests. For the Lady Shri Ram college fest, I baked approximately 1000 cupcakes in multiple batches, out of a very small oven! I also hosted stalls at Maitreyi and Gargi College this year for their annual cultural festivals, and to keep things interesting, I conceptualised a little interactive game that was a hit. When students came to claim their free cupcake they ended up trying all our flavours, and we were mostly sold out.

Seeking Other Baking Fanatics

In the past few months, Demould has witnessed an unprecedented demand for corporate orders and gifting, and is likely to grow even further. This only calls for more hands at work so we do not lose potential customers. However, being a young business, we have not been very lucky when it comes to finding the right people to work with. But one thing is for sure. I am keen to metamorphose from being a one-man army to having an excited and passionate team to work with, a bunch of bakers crazy enough to roll out a thousand cupcakes from an ordinary domestic oven at once just like me, and challenge my fanaticism for baking!

To help keep it fresh, I am now working on some very unique flavours to add to my baking arsenal and I’ll be rolling them out soon. I am also looking forward to further enhancing my skills and knowledge, by learning newer forms of baking. Incidentally, Instagram helps me stay up-to-date on the latest baking trends and techniques!

Passion Wins

Over the years I have realised that I chose actuarial science just for the sake of getting a job. It wasn’t something that I really liked doing, while baking is something where even if I have to work 24/7, I will be able to. We recently fulfilled a huge order for return gifts for a 25th anniversary, and the person texted me at 3 am that the gifts looked superb. At times like this, I am glad that I discovered my passion and am putting in every effort to follow it. I only hope that in time, with further revenue generation and increasing popularity for Demould, I’ll be able to also make my parents proud.