Food prepared by home cooks, housewives and stay-at-home mothers is the most valuable and precious asset which money can’t buy. No gourmet restaurant can provide the satisfaction of eating a fresh, home-style meal made by experienced hands.
Daalchini, the Woman-led Enterprise
Daalchini is a food tech start-up based in the Delhi-NCR region that’s improving access to affordable home cooked food through IoT (Internet of Things) technology. The company sets up food kiosks and provides instant, affordable, healthy home cooked food through IoT enabled phygital (physical + digital) vending machines. Prerna Kalra leads the enterprise and is currently one of India’s emerging women leaders who turned an idea perceived as feminine (home cooked food) into a novel start-up innovation.
Prerna Kalra – Brain behind the company
Prerna Kalra, the brain behind Daalchini is a former Paytm employee who co-founded the start-up alongside her Paytm colleague Vidya Bhushan.
Her womanpreneur story
Prerna Kalra’s womanpreneur story stemmed from a brief work visit to China where she found the answer to her constant struggle with accessing fresh home cooked meals amidst a busy schedule every day. The answer was found in vending machines that could dispense fresh food items. She leveraged the huge tiffin services sector in India after thorough research into the market for home cooked food.
Prerna’s keen eye quickly observed that despite the home tiffin market comprising over 3500 services providers back in 2017, access to home food was still difficult for consumers. Through Daalchini, she quickly tapped into the demand for strong tiffin and home food services. She also identified several gaps in the market like the shortfall of the logistics infrastructure which she fulfilled through her start-up Daalchini.
Prerna’s Vision for Home-Cooked Meals in Food Tech
Prerna’s vision for home-cooked meals in food tech was to make healthy and affordable home food instantly available to consumers. The company’s fleet of smart vending machines that make this possible became operational in business settings such as offices, hospitals, and hotels.
How she led the vending machine concept for home-style meals
Prerna led the company into a vending machine concept for home-style meals by bringing together a team of home chefs who started working at 3 am every day to prepare daily fresh food using prescribed recipes and ingredients. Food safety compliance norms are met with and monitored to ensure that the food is consumable, healthy, and safe to be vended out of the Daalchini kiosks.
Prerna Kalra's Daalchini tapped into the strong demand for tiffin services and fulfilled several gaps in the market.
What’s in it for me?
Prerna Kalra is truly a woman of vision. She didn’t falter from harbouring ambitious expansion plans for her start-up despite the impact of the pandemic threatening the company’s survival. Her and the company’s answer to the pandemic hit was a geographic expansion and to grow the business.
This was a very strategic and well thought out move since Prerna and her team knew that if they would remain restricted to a small market, they wouldn’t be able to survive. So they improvised and wasted no time in expanding to much bigger customers including the manufacturing sector, in-transit locations, and residential areas.
Prerna has proven that women entrepreneurs don’t hold back from taking the boldest decision in business during the most precarious times. This move has reflected her strength of character, and a strong sense of purpose, something that’s rare in entrepreneurs. Through her start-up, Prerna is turning thousands of home cooks into women entrepreneurs, thus carving a niche in womanpreneurship.