Startup Street: Straight Out Of College, This Duo Is Bringing Regional Delicacies To Your Doorstep

From homemade murukkus and khakhras to a metal and mining giant’s hunt for collaboration, here’s what went on Startup Street.

Raghav Jhawar (Left) and Muskaan Sancheti (Right) of The State Plate. (Source: The State Plate)
Raghav Jhawar (Left) and Muskaan Sancheti (Right) of The State Plate. (Source: The State Plate)

This week on Startup Street, a look at how a 21-year-old freshly graduated duo started up in the middle of a pandemic. A startup that makes life easier for kirana (mom-and-pop) stores has raised fresh funds. And a metals and mining giant is looking to collaborate with startups. Here’s what went on...

The State Plate Story...

Before Covid-19 struck, undergraduate classmates Raghav Jhawar and Muskaan Sancheti were ready to jump into the corporate world with their recently secured campus placements. But the pandemic played spoilsport and their hirings were put on hold.

That period of lull turned into entrepreneurial inspiration when one day in May, Sancheti’s family ran out of traditional Rajasthani papad. “I’m a Marwari,” Sancheti says. “And if you’re one, then you know we’re talking about a major crisis here.”

In the midst of the lockdown, her family tried procuring authentic papads. They got it but only after much hassle and overpaying for delivery. That sparked an idea for Sancheti who immediately called up Jhawar.

“Soon, we realised that we weren’t the only ones with this problem. Multiple people around us wanted to get their hands on authentic, local food products, but didn’t know where to get it from. The market was simply too unorganised,” Sancheti said.

The 21-year-old duo got together to start The State Plate, an online delivery service that procures authentic regional delicacies from various parts of the country that usually won't be available in supermarkets and mainstay e-commerce websites.

A screenshot of The State Plate website.
A screenshot of The State Plate website.

“The State Plate aims to bring a little bit of home back to people through their indigenous food,” Jhawar told BloombergQuint. “And at the same, create awareness and celebrate the country's amazing food diversity.”

It’s a simple design. The startup finds vendors for regional food items, tests out their product and then gets them on board. When an order is placed on the website, it facilitates the delivery and charges the vendor a fixed percentage on the sales.

And whether it is Induben’s Khakhras from Gujarat, Subbama’s Nippattu from Bengaluru or Rajgira Laddoos from Maharashtra, the duo tries them all out before selecting the vendors.

“For homemade products, we sample each of the products before listing them on the website to ensure quality and taste. We also set packaging guidelines to ensure that the packets are sealed and moisture-proof,” Jhawar said.

The State Plate also sells packaged products of iconic local brands like the Parsumal Bhujia from Rajasthan, Mukhorochak from West Bengal or the famous Karachi Bakery biscuits from Hyderabad.

Murukku, a popular savoury snack from South India. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Murukku, a popular savoury snack from South India. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The startup has its own network of delivery people in Bengaluru, where it’s headquartered, while it has tied up with Gurugram-based Shippigo for pan-India deliveries.

The duo started the pilot for The State Plate with just Rs 5,000 and built the website on their own. After that, they were funded by family members and were able to invest more for inventory, web development and marketing. “While we’re open to seeking funding for the business, we feel like this isn’t the right stage in our business to do so,” Sancheti said.

The bootstrapped startup has a total of 10 personnel working on the venture currently that includes an operations head, a warehouse manager, a creative and media manager and two interns.

Sancheti said that their startup is also a good way to enable home cooks, particularly women, to sell their delicacies and boost their incomes. “It’s wonderful how food is such a powerful way for women to empower themselves.”

The startup will now look to expand its product portfolio to include more regional food items and reduce delivery costs. They’re also mulling more long-term goals of expanding to international markets and starting a private label for authentic snacks.

“We still want to complete our masters and get a feel of how the corporate world runs,” Sancheti said. “As of now, The State Plate is our baby, and we do not plan on giving it up any time soon.”

Jumbotail Raises $11 Million In Funding

Jumbotail, a business-to-business marketplace for food and grocery products, has closed a $11 million funding round led by Heron Rock.

The series B2 round also saw participation from Jumbofund, Nexus Venture Partners, Siddhi Capital, Reaction Fund, Pimpernel Holdings and a group of unnamed high networth individuals, a statement by the startup said.

A kirana store owner using the Jumbotail application. (Source: Jumbotail)
A kirana store owner using the Jumbotail application. (Source: Jumbotail)

“Jumbotail will use the funds to scale its core B2B marketplace to new geographies across India, expand its network of J24 stores, grow its private label product portfolio and to extend its Go-To-Market services to more FMCG brands seeking entry into Kirana stores and standalone supermarkets across the country,” it said.

Jumbotail serves 30,000 Kirana stores via its full-stack e-commerce model consisting of its B2B marketplace platform, warehousing and last-mile delivery supply chain network, and a fintech platform for payment as well as credit solutions to Kirana store owners.

The startup’s new retail platform transforms Kirana stores into modern omni-channel convenience grocery stores under the ‘J24’ brand. Jumbotail was founded by S Karthik Venkateswaran and Ashish Jhina.

Startup Street: Making Life Easier For Kirana Store Owners

Vedanta Eyes Tie-Ups With Startups

Metals and mining giant Vedanta Ltd. has launched an initiative to partner with digital tech startups and tap into innovation and growth opportunities.

The ‘Vedanta Spark’ initiative will tie up with early-stage, growth-stage and venture-stage digital tech startups, the company said in a statement.

The logo of Vedanta Resources Plc sits on a newly molded aluminum ingot. (Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)
The logo of Vedanta Resources Plc sits on a newly molded aluminum ingot. (Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

The initiative is looking at startups from across the globe as part of the programme, working in areas such as asset optimisation and predictive maintenance, exploration, mining and blasting.

The initiative will offer various advantages for startups. These would be partnerships and collaborations to leverage Vedanta’s resources. It will also offer strategic investment opportunities for the startups that offer significant value to Vedanta, the company’s Chief Digital Officer Anand Laxshmivarahan R was quoted as saying in the statement.

With PTI inputs.