From the classrooms of MBA, straight into the kitchen of innovation: A unique culinary entrepreneurship saga!

On my recent visit to Sri Sri University, I was suddenly taken aback by the haunting aromas of typical South Indian cuisine fervently hitting my olfactory senses in the alien remote corners of eastern peninsula. Following the fragrance of ‘my kind’ of food, I ended up at the gateway of a café that felt too strange to be true in a place like Cuttack – steaming hot idlis, sizzling buttery dosas, hissing fried vadas …. all served with authentic lip-smacking spicy ‘podi’ and loads of hearty smiles!! Intrigued by the palate, aroma and ambience of the resto, I curiously walked over to explore their origins. I gathered that they fondly call it the ‘Vindara Café’ and what is startling is the fact that it is being funded and managed  by a few students of the University itself! The curiosity in me grew and I set out to listen to their adventurous story of the birth of Vindara.

Vindara Cafe

Two budding MBA students, Sobhitha and Kishan, in their initial years on the management campus, put together this unique start-up idea of tickling the eastern taste buds with a traditional South Indian cuisine through a one-of-its-kind blend of modern methods and authentic traditional recipes. Their dream took wings when they showcased their concept to the Management Faculty and received whole-hearted support in return.  Just like all new startup ventures, for these budding entrepreneurs too, while the imagination and ideation sounded enthralling, the journey of making it a reality was not really hunky-dory.

In the nascent days of its inception, ‘Vindara’ was completely handholded by Sobhitha and Kishan, with just the two of them managing the whole show right from setting up the infrastructure and procuring ingredients to delivering food over the counter. Needless to mention, the financial baggage that comes along at every step of the setup. Sobhitha roped in her mother who lent a huge helping hand in the kitchen chores at times when they were away attending the classes. Inspite of the initial setbacks and tremendous pressure, they faced the crunch and held their nerves. Gradually ,as the café had more people pouring in, a few other junior students joined hands with the struggling threesome and the journey continued. Persistently marching ahead on this expedition of amalgamation, their joy knew no bounds when a  dosa making modern machinery made its way into their kitchen!

Finally, baked in the fuel of  testing times, when their business began to grow, they decided to ‘outsource’ a portion of cooking to a family outside the university. Today, Vindara is a full-fledged smart café with full time Sales Manager, Stock Manager, Chefs and a few students supporting the founders, part time. What more, they have a prominent web presence too at ! Now, reaping the fruits of its sweat and toil, this cafeteria stands tall as a landmark of inspiration, innovation and determination in the hearts and minds of the foodies dining here, day in and day out.  

 In the founders’ own words,

 “Vindara is a food start-up initiative that aims to Indianize the global food sector through product standardization using world class operational techniques. We solve this by becoming an amalgamation of authentic recipes and machinery coupled with a strong modernized service operational plan, that stands par with any international brand.”

Standing true to its values of ‘Deepening the Roots and Broadening the Vision’, Sri Sri University is turning out to be a pioneer in  building value-based role models for tomorrow. This whole story made me realize that ‘Entrepreneurship’ is more of an ‘attitude’ and less of a phenomenon and can tap the simple of the markets, provided the mission is extra-ordinary and the perseverance is unswerving. With rapid advances in technology, the world is literally reduced to a ‘global village’ today and opportunities galore in every walk of life for those who go knocking.

Amidst all this saga, it occurred to me that, while the whole world of opportunities is waiting out there with its arms wide open equally for all, what sets the trendsetting leaders apart is their ability to fiercely take on calculative risks, break the conventional mindset and snap out of their comfort zones, keeping the roots of ethics and values intact. 

And so…. slowly, but surely, they march on to accomplish a quantum leap towards success!

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