Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Anjana Shankar

Anjana pursues her cooking passion as an encore career

Anjana always loved to cook. While working at a University in Kerala, her friends sold cakes. They tasted good, but she knew she could do better. However, she never had enough time to start a business of her own. Now that she is retired, Anjana finally has time to pursue her passion for cooking. She joined the Cookbook Project to showcase her recipes. And now, she is participating in the Startup Accelerator Program to organize her business structure, narrow down her ideas, and learn more tools to get her company off the ground.

Starting a business is never easy

Anjana experimented with baked goods and curries, making some sales in the process! Her french pie, apple pie, and brownies were among her favorites. But then the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of her sales. "I joined Michael's class on starting a business way before the Startup Program, and I was inspired. I realized having time was not enough to develop a business. However, due to my frozen shoulder, recent retirement and the pandemic, I was very depressed. I couldn't thrive." 

Anjana did not give up

Anjana challenged herself to learn more about the cooking industry despite the roadblocks. "During this period, I got a bit of experience and ideas about how our business structure should be and what mistakes we were making. I realized that I must standardize my recipes to taste precisely the same each time. I knew I had to see the science behind cooking." 

When Anjana learned about the Startup Accelerator Program, she was thrilled. Social media marketing was still foreign to her, and she wanted to learn as much as possible to help her business succeed. She jumped at the opportunity to take specialized business courses. At first, the program was difficult to understand, but as Anjana kept attending classes, she started seeing results. 

New skills for a new business

"When GetSetUp came up with this program, I joined the 'Pitch your idea' class. It was fantastic because you had to convey what you dream of and put it out in those few lines, which helped me sort myself out." 

Anjana especially enjoyed Guide Binda's advice about organization and goal-setting. The classes involved listing out all ideas and then narrowing them down to a single one. The sessions on setting up personal and business goals struck a chord with Anjana because she no longer felt overwhelmed. Instead of tangled in a web of great ideas, she could prioritize which are essential and which could be done later. The assignments provided her with a format to structure her thoughts and see what she needed to do next. 

While Anjana is still not sure if she will focus on baked desserts, pies, premixes, or traditional curries, she is much more confident in her business. "When I started, I had a one-page business plan, and now we are going in-depth. We would need finances if we want to scale up, and we need to be able to convince people that this is a viable project and that exactly what the Startup Accelerator Program is teaching us how to do.”

Looking forward to success

"My recipe, kitchen, and presentation are top-notch, and I am confident in these areas. I want to learn more about marketing my product and photography. I love following my cooking passion so much that I forget all about the hurdles and my frozen shoulder."

Anjana plans to learn how to bake clean desserts with fresh ingredients and no added colorants or preservatives. She also wants to explore the concept of cloud kitchens and how to make millet cakes. "I plan to launch my snack business this month. We are working with a local college student to start a kiosk." In the meantime, Anjana will keep developing her business skills and ideas.

"This has added a new dimension to my life, bringing zeal, zest, joy, and excitement while helping me explore new avenues and bettering myself!"

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