The Road To Entrepreneurship And Self-fulfillment Are Intertwined Believes Gayathri Swahar, Brand Head, Y-Cook India



As a woman entrepreneur in India, I understand the tight rope-walk we women entrepreneurs make every single day irrespective of the industry one belongs too. Being a mother to two daughters, only makes the walk that much more challenging and exciting for me however. I do understand that the popular perception often dictates, that the road to success is peppered with far more obstacles for women than it is for men, a fact that was recently pointed out through an interesting caricature widely circulated across Twitterati in India. While that may be true to a certain extent depending on the personal circumstances one is coming from, in my own experience, I have learnt that the resistance to growth faced by an entrepreneur is more often than not, gender neutral. In saying that I mean, that both women and men hold equal potential to become successful business owners but the success is usually determined by our response to challenges that come along the way of running a business.

The women entrepreneurs edge

Women have been anointed with striking the proverbial work life balance, and it is this age-old challenge that has helped us hone our abilities as well. It is the ability to respond differently, that gives women an undeniable edge in the world of entrepreneurship. Born with a worry gene, women are natural thinkers which makes them great at multi-tasking. We are able to lend a unique lens to each business challenge simply because we have been able to polish our ability to create connections differently and are used to anticipating and planning ahead as a function of the lives we juggle on our personal fronts.

However, our worry gene must also be observed and handled with a sense of awareness as on the flip side we can also run the risk of sometimes chasing the unrealistic aspirations of being infallible super women, who are best at everything.  They key is to be aware of the unique advantage we have on our side in order to set ourselves on the path to success.

The turning point

Witnessing the growing menace of unhealthy choices in the ready-to-eat meals and snacks available, I was concerned as a mother that the choice was either to forego time or nutrition. The popularization of these high-energy and high-fat foods is contributing to the growing obesity and lifestyle diseases. An increasing number of studies are also establishing the relationship between the nutritional benefits of the foods we eat to both our body as well as our mind. And the studies show that we need urgently create awareness and make smarter food choices.  

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other Institutes conducted studies on lifestyle disease and estimated the proportion of all deaths due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to have increased from 37.09% in 1990 to 61.8% in 2016.

The growing comfort with this compromise and the addictive nature of these so to speak “convenient” processed food options, deeply affected me as a mother and a food lover too, and what ultimately led me to seek a solution to ably bridge this gap that existed to sourcing healthy nutritious food that was not only good for the consumer but uplifted every stakeholder in the ecosystem.   

Just as we seek out people we can have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with; we need to seek out foods that are enhancing and beneficial to our bodies. With calories becoming cheaper and nutrition becoming expensive, there is evidence galore about lifestyle diseases, malnourished children and obesity. Even the urban rich are found to be suffering from malnourished obesity because of their unhealthy eating habits. 

Ignoring this dangerous trend can prove fatal for the world and its human capital. It was with this intent to build sustainability that we set out to create a Ready-to-Health category in the food space with our range of boiled snacks and ingredients that are boiled naturally without any additives or preservatives.

Creating good, tasty, sustainability

Our ethos of aligning Y-cook! with the virtues of Innovation, Quality and Responsibility ended up creating more sustainable good than just convenient, lip-smacking nutrition on our dinner plates. Understanding mankind’s dependence on agriculture and the value farmers and their farmlands, following Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global G.A.P), for safe and sustainable agriculture in which the farming output does not leave any pesticide residue helped us create a more conscious ecosystem. This deeply benefits the farmers and the end consumers too. We strongly believe lifting others helps us rise as well, and it a philosophy that has helped us  create the right difference in the world of healthy foods.

Nurturing growth with the right partners!

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a lot of support for any innovation to gain acceptance and then eventually make an impact that is meaningful. In addition to our supportive investors, the energetic team, 2000+ farmers,  Helping Y-cook! write its growth story is Marico Innovation Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of the leading FMCG Company Marico Limited. The foundation with its aim of nurturing innovation was not only forthcoming and invested in Y-Cook!’s success by helping us zoom in our focus on measuring and evaluating our production capacity and enhance efficiency, but is also mentoring us on maximizing effects on marketing.

The support of a foundation with its treasure trove of experience was just the nurturing environment any startup needs, as MIF  is focused on helping innovations scale and win in the market. Getting help of this kind can help early stage companies solve critical problems quickly, some of which can include challenges of efficiency, right pricing and also creating awareness about our purpose and products. Finding the right partner who allows you to dive into their existing pool of knowledge and expertise can be priceless for any startup. Startups today the world over recognize the value of connecting with seasoned professionals to gain insights and counsel on roadblocks faced instead of struggling to “re-invent the wheel.”

Building a purposeful life

At the end of the day, I feel a supportive environment helps an entrepreneur more than anything else, be it in the professional arena or even on the personal front. What truly helped me in my entrepreneurial journey was seeking the right mentor support with a platform such as MIF in order to fulfill my professional goals and simultaneously seeking the right support at home by not shying away from asking for help, because there is plenty out there.

Lastly, acknowledging to myself that what we are attempting to build, gives me a sense of deep satisfaction, makes the journey not only exciting and motivating but it also gives me a sense of a larger purpose in my other roles in my personal life too. After all, as architects of our own families, happy and fulfilled women ultimately create happy families. And happy families go into making happier societies.

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