It is almost impossible not to salivate on colorful, crisp food videos of yummy dishes while scrolling down your Facebook timeline. The name that stands out for all Indians is of Hebbar’s Kitchen that nudges the cook in us with its simple video recipes, mainly focusing on health and nutrition-rich vegetarian recipes.
With over 47 lakh followers on Facebook, and more than 2.5 lakh subscriber on YouTube, Hebbar’s kitchen presents traditional Indian flavors to people all across the world. Every post is visibly filled with people’s comments, compliments and queries. But a very few will know the hands behind the awesome culinary skills.
Learnt cooking after marriage
The mother of Hebbar’s Kitchen, Archana Baikadi, prefers to remain away from the spotlight. She is reluctant to share her photographs but gives in after little persistence. Currently, she lives in Melbourne in Australia with her husband but hails from Udupi in Karnataka where she remembers the fun of growing up with her non-identical twin brother.
Archana grew up watching her mother and grandmother cook authentic dishes and realized that it is an art that can be perfected only by trial, error and practice. She got whatever she wanted made by her mother and hardly ever cooked before marrying Sudarshan, who is very fond of Udupi cuisine. Only once she came to Australia after her wedding did she try her hand at cooking and realized that she enjoys it a lot.
Couldn’t find a job
Trained as a software testing professional, Archana had a tougher time finding a stable job in Melbourne than she thought. She had to do something to pass her time so she she created a blog on wordpress and began uploading recipes with photographs. It was not a game-changer and received a mild response. This went on for a while before she moved to a short video format in early 2016 using only her iPhone.
The foundation of this huge foundation, ranked the third largest Indian video publisher, was laid without any capital. While interacting with KenFolios, Archana says, “Believe me or not, we started with zero capital investment. Initially, I used to shoot videos from my iPhone and was editing with a basic free software. However, after getting quite a good feedback from viewers, my husband gifted me a DSLR camera and professional editing software.”
All the cookwares that Archana uses are ubiquitous, and affordable. A basic set-up also motivates people to try the recipes in their house. Now, they have set up a small studio in their house with proper lighting system and fixed tripod to shoot videos in a table top view.
Keeping the kitchen warm
Archana says her husband is a fabulous cook, too, but is lazy to do it regularly. They have divided their responsibility under which she cooks, shoots the video, and does the editing. Her husband Sudarshan handles the website, mobile app, and photography. The response to these short videos wasn’t great at the initial stage as the video shooting and editing quality was not that great.
The motivation came from the readers’ feedback that pushed Archana to up her game. Her supportive husband got her a DSLR camera, professional video editing software and high-end desktop machine to shoot and edit higher quality videos.
“This motivated me to work harder and harder and as a result, I invested some time to learn how to edit more professionally. Also, I make sure my husband watches all the videos before uploading.”
Her first video recipe was methe tambli (fenugreek seeds raita), an authentic recipe of Udupi cuisine. Those days they had no knowledge of how to shoot videos, edit and how lighting plays an important role in the quality of videos.
Who eats all the yummy food?
I always wondered who is that lucky person who gets to eat all the wonderful food this woman makes. When I got to interview Archana, I made it a point to ask her this. She replied, “We try to finish off the curries, snacks or breakfast items by ourselves and also share it with the neighbors. However the sweet recipes, I pack it up and ask my husband to distribute in his office. They love it”
Unlike you would expect, Hebbar’s Kitchen has a small team of only three people with Sudarshan, Archana, and her friend Shreeprada from Mumbai who helps in handling the Facebook page. It was decided to turn this passion into a profession when she started making money out of Hebbar’s Kitchen.
When asked about how much revenue she earns from HK, Archana said, “It completely depends on the traffic and traction we get for a particular month. But having said that there is a lot of maintenance cost and effort involved in it. In short, I do not regret not to have 9 -5 job in terms of salary.”
Various strategies have been applied for Hebbar’s Kitchen which includes a mix of photos, links, and videos on Facebook to engage audience. Who devises them?
To be honest, it is my husband who comes with different ideas, but we mutually discuss and strategize about the links, photos, and videos posting. We are in a constant thought process to take it to the next level. One such idea is to open up a franchise.
How do you decide what to make next and how many dishes do you do in a week?
Again, it is both me and my husband do the brainstorming and decide the recipes for a week. We plan and schedule the recipes one week ahead. Currently, I am releasing one video a day.
Running HK also means constant learning. What kind of preparations or learning do you undertake?
Initially, when we started, we had a lot of time for experimenting and were very adaptive. However, these days, I get very little time as I have to follow my own defined pattern and more importantly responding to the readers requirements.
What does Archana do when not cooking/ editing?
I just like to hang out with my friends doing some shopping, exploring new place, new food and learning different culture, however, lately HK is keeping me busy.
Shed some light on your revenue model. How did you devise one, did you take some help? How much time did it take you to clock satisfying revenue?
We have partnered with google adsense and have ads in our website, mobile app and also in Youtube videos. Apart from this we also do sponsored posts, product review, sponsored videos and brand endorsement.
Share this incredible story of a woman who made it big on her own and never stopped learning.