India is a country where education is given immense priority. This could probably be one of the reasons why education has also grown up to become a business sector that gains huge profits. Competition among the brightest students is so tight that students who are not toppers are left behind in the race of getting a good academic education and then a successful career.
However, there are exceptions. There are a few people like Mustafa P.C. who have run the race and also claimed the trophy, despite being considered not even eligible to take part in the competition. Who knew that a boy who failed class 6, hailing from a remote village in Wayanad, would one day own iD Fresh Foods a 100-crore company that sells fresh idli and dosa batter to many homes across Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, and even Dubai and become a role model and inspire many to overcome their constrains and fulfill their dreams.
And for all those who think that universities like NIT and IIM are only for a special category of students, Mustafa’s story says otherwise. His father was a coolie and his mother didn’t even have any formal education. Even then he graduated from these universities with top scores proving once again that anything is possible, just that one requires to identify his/her dreams and work towards that.
The latest feather in CEO Mustafa’s cap is the Junior Chamber International India Award – 2016, where he has been chosen as one among the Three Outstanding Businessmen/Industrialist/Professionals.
An overwhelmed Mustafa says, “It is indeed a fantastic feeling to have won such a prestigious award. JCI shares the belief that in order to create lasting positive change, we must improve ourselves and the world around us. I believe it’s iD’s team work that has fetched us this award by creating a positive impact in society by way of providing healthy food for the ones who do not have time in hand and also by providing employment opportunities to the rural folks. We touch the life of millions every day with healthy food. We help them cook authentic Indian food at home.”
Mustafa never aspired to become an entrepreneur and wanted to be known as a good engineer. Despite having a high paying job in Dubai, a yearning to do something for society and the unemployed people in his village and other rural areas who considered him as a role model always remained in his heart. Finally he decided to quit the job and, while thinking about business plans, achieved his aim to acquire a masters degree which he could not do earlier due to financial constrains.
Meanwhile, Mustafa’s cousin who ran a stationery shop in the city and was his support system put forth an idea of selling idly and dosa batter as he thought the demand for it was increasing every day among people who had very less time to spend in the kitchen.
“The products already available in the market were unbranded, unhygienic and loaded with preservatives. We decided to setup a 50-square foot kitchen with a grinder and a packing machine with the Rs. 25,000 I had invested. While the four of them managed the operations, I looked into funding and marketing. The business was managed by them for three years and I joined them full time post the completion of my MBA,” he added.
The brand name of the product was iD Special back then. “Fresh” was later incorporated to it as part of their firm decision to cater fresh food only, without any preservatives.
However, everything though seems like a fairytale was very difficult as the concept of fresh, natural, preservative-free was hard for not just the consumers to believe but also the retailers and employees. According to Mustafa there is no brand in the ready-to-cook segment that offers products that are free of additives and are 100% natural.
“It took some time for us to convince people and educate them about our core brand values, which are – fresh, natural, no chemicals, traditionally made and authentic,” he says, adding that it was one of the toughest challenges they had to face during the inception of the company.
They also had to face many other challenges as none of them had any sort of background in food technology or food industry. Besides this they are catering to the fresh food segment and hence the wastage is high. Apart from putting in all the savings he had, he says that adhering to certain principles and believing in growing business ethically aligned to core values is an obstacle in developing a business venture.
Mustafa, however, is happy that he along with his four cousins have been able to accomplish their aim of providing employment to the rural folks. This noble thought has gained him an invite from India Philanthropy Initiative (IPI).
Sharing his experience of being a part of IPI, Mustafa says, “I was very fortunate to have spent an enthralling four hours with some of the world’s finest leaders. It is the foremost for business leaders to identify a business opportunity, execute it well and scale it up. The world would be a much better place and aid in driving social projects. We at iD are seriously evaluating to position idli as the solution for India’s nutritional issues and make it affordable to the masses.”
Id-Fresh Food and the five cousins behind it are a perfect example of success coupled with humility and responsibility towards society. They are of the opinion that listening to the heart, staying true to ones values and principles even if the going gets tough, treating the team as family and respecting their needs, and finally doing all this without wasting time is the best mantra towards success.
With its new product line and diversification the company is running towards its vision
to become a fresh food brand, admired and trusted the world over and to grow into a 1,000-crore market leader by 2025. The objective of their business is to make preparation of home-made meals a complete delight. By making use of state-of-art technology and good manufacturing practices for each of the product.