Guwahati: Bazaari Funde has become something of a local phenomenon across Assam. How it grew from a locally produced tasty delight among the Assamese to something transported all across India is still unclear to many. Today, it is a national phenomenon. The mind behind this enterprise is Debasish Khargharia, who we recently had a chat with, offers an insight into how his business grew over the years.
“Northeast India is blessed with agricultural products. This is why our Bazaari Funde is all about spices and herbs that are organically sourced from the Northeast part of India. We value quality and try to set a balance between trust in our products and the taste of our products. Each of our products is unique, with the ingredients handpicked from nature.”
To ensure the quality of the products, Khargharia ensures the ingredients of the products are grown by some of the best and most experienced farmers available. Their Red Trip brand includes products such as smoked and oven-dried bhoot jolokia (ghost pepper/king chilli in English), hot pickles, paste and sauces made from the bamboo shoot – king chilli mix, lemon – king chilli mix. Bhoot jolokia is considered to be one of the hottest in the world; the hotter, the better. While most normal chillies range from about 350 to 30,000 SHUs, the king chilli exceeds 1,000,000 SHUs.
Crush is another brand that flaunts the highest quality of powdered organic spices, made and packaged with international standards. Crush represents ingredients ‘produced with love’. Whether it’s Turmeric Yellow Crush or Ginger Crush, this spice adds ‘organic love’ to the products in an exotic way.
As success followed, Khargharia introduced the brand Bounty to showcase a unique and helpful health product. Ginger Bounty is one’s everyday friend – a mouth-freshener which heals the sore throat provides relief during cold and takes care of other common day-to-day problems like indigestion and gastric as well.
Speaking about the genesis of his journey in the world of entrepreneurship, Khargharia says; “Even from my days studying engineering at Nagpur University, I always knew I didn’t belong in the corporate world, I knew I was meant to start up something. While working at the Health, Education Rehabilitation Society (HERS), I got my first experience of managing people and having a team.”
Khargharia also got extensive knowledge on important subjects like structure, foundation, revenue, and cost. These were part of his training during school. “It wasn’t until completing my post-graduation at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ranchi, that I started Bazaari Funde in 2013.”
The vision, Khargharia says, is to create, impact, sustain, and improvise a brand with solid roots in the Northeastern part of India. Years later, Khargharia can still boast of his products retaining its high quality and its ingredients grown in the chemically-free hills of North East India.
Khargharia says when he started in 2013; it originally was just a firm. It wasn’t until 2017 that his friend from his days in Engineering, Sourav and Abhishek, joined him and turned the firm into a private limited company. Sourav went on to join the firm as a director on the board and an operation officer, while Abhishek joined as a shareholder and the operations officer in charge of sales and distribution.
Often, successful entrepreneurs come from families that have solid business backgrounds. Although this wasn’t the case with Khargharia as his father was a doctor who retired from government service. He recounts, “Growing up, there was always an entrepreneurial spirit around me. And now I’m an entrepreneur, the biggest support in my current journey has been my parents.”
When probed about his journey through the first tough years as an entrepreneur, He says, “I think of entrepreneurship like a long journey. The first few years are where you begin working on an idea and this decides the direction of your journey as an entrepreneur. During the first few years, all that may be clear is the vision and your philosophy. Subsequently, everything else gains clarity. You will need important things like a strong team, revenue generation, foundation, structure, etc.”
Constant improvements to his products have ensured it retains premium quality. Khargharia notes that before his products are fully released into the market, his team collects reviews and feedback from online sources which include emails, messaging on social media, and the company’s website, and offline sources like customer feedback from the retailer.
Khargharia highlights his biggest motivations on his bad days. He says, “My parents, friends, and family encouraging me on those bad days works excellently well. I am blessed to have their words of encouragement when things are not going well.”
From humble beginnings to exploding popularity across Assam and India as a whole, Khargharia recounts that his initial investment into his business was Rs 1 lakh and has subsequently increased his investments in various aspects of his business. Now, Bazaari Funde had a monthly turnover of about 4 lakhs in a very good month. Yearly, Khargharia estimates his turnover to be around Rs 40 lakhs. He says “This year is an exception of course, due to the pandemic and resulting lockdown. But immediately everything resolves, we will be back to normal”.
As for how he is coping with the lockdown. He says “Most businesses are affected by this lockdown, and it is fatal for start-ups. I feel any start-up that survives this period can tackle any challenge in the future.”
Currently, the business has launched a total of 15 product varieties and once the pandemic is over, he plans to ensure the rest of his products get into the market. Customers can get these tasty delights from both offline and online sources. Online sources include; Flipkart, Simsim, Qtrove, and NEorigin. Offline sources to get these products to include supermarkets like retail outlets and stores all across major cities in the Northeastern part of India, and all over Assam.