In this story, I would like to shed light upon that which inspires me immensely. I will not only talk about business struggles but also how the founder of ID Fresh, PC Musthafa, became who he is today: the owner of a company worth Rs 2,000 crore. Musthafa was born into a poverty-stricken family; his dad used to work as a luggage picker at railways stations. Musthafa dropped out of school at a young age and started doing odd jobs at the age of 10, when a three-meal day used to be his dream. Now, the question arises: how did this happen?
Musthafa resumed his schooling and started studying hard. He went to NIT for BTech in Computer Science and then went to IIM Bangalore to complete his master’s degree. He was offered a placement that allowed him a salary of more than his dad’s savings from his entire life. This was an overwhelming moment for the family.
His success story comprises a massive failure from an app he launched that did not do well. Surprisingly, his apps consisted of almost all the features that the most popular apps that have come after him. This is the point when he realised that he did not do the right thing at the right time.
He returned to India from the Middle East (where he was working) to create employment opportunities for kids in his village. This is the point where he and his cousins recognised the faulty services of idly batters (the staple food of Southern India) by children. There was poor service quality and sometimes there were cockroaches mixed in the batter.
Now, Musthafa, along with his cousins, came to the decision of making idly services convenient for people. However, their focus was not to make idlies, but to make the services and products much more efficient and trustworthy. They started in a 50-square-feet kitchen with an investment of less than Rs 50,000. Musthafa’s job was not to cook the batter but to ensure its reach, quality and ingredients.
Henceforth, they deliberately aimed at creating a completely natural and fresh batter. Since he was from a tech background, his team hired entrepreneurs and marketing experts to expand their market. The company spent zero money on advertising during the first eight years. Musthafa stated that when you ensure the right products and desirable services to your customers, more than half of the marketing is done.
They persistently worked to package and brand, which added to the company’s credibility. The company worked by keeping the needs of the customer in mind and conquered success with great teamwork. The company received funding from Helion Venture and Azim Premji in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
The challenge faced was the lack of customer trust in lieu of packaged eatables. Musthafa was a strong believer in customers’ trust and wanted them to believe in the company’s chemical-free products. The startup devised an experiment that is absolutely mind-blowing and intelligent.
In order to gain trust from customers, they said that first, they would show trust in customers. For this purpose, the company set up 40 unmanned stores in 40 different apartments. There were no cameras or people overviewing it. They set chillers that had the products and put a money box nearby, they called these shops Trust shops. The results were incredible. It led to a 90% more collection than from their retail stores. This idea was rated as the best food marketing idea in India.
Everything about this story encourages me to work harder and harder in spite of the challenges and failures. If you work industriously towards your aim, success will come your way. One of the crucial learning was that for a startup/company to be successful, there is nothing more important than the customer’s trust in its underlying principles. One must not serve the customers just to gain profits but also connect with the customers on an ethical basis. From striving in his childhood days for breakfast, today, Musthafa has secured breakfast for thousands of people.