Setbacks are a part and parcel of human life. We all are bound to experience some form of loss in our lives. But those who overcome these hardships and keep moving forward make a name for themselves and are idolized by millions.
This story is about 34-year-old entrepreneur and food truck owner Shilpa who is based in Mangalore. Life threw challenges at her time and again but she overcame all of them and moved ahead. Looking at her determination and hard work, Mahindra & Mahindra’s CEO Anand Mahindra came forward and extended a helping hand.
Stranded in the city
Shilpa, educated only till STD 10, led a very content life. After getting married, she moved to Mangalore with her husband Rajshekhar, a city-based businessman. After a few years, Rajshekhar went to Bangalore citing some business purpose and never returned, leaving Shilpa behind with their three-year-old son. Their families tried to look for him, and even lodged a missing complain, but nothing helped.
“It was 2008 and I had a child with me. It was my responsibility to get him an identity in the society,” says Shilpa in a conversation with KenFolios.
With bills mounting and the overwhelming duty to take care of her family pressing against her, Shilpa started taking small jobs to make ends meet. But a meagre income of Rs 6,000 was not enough to feed the entire family. So she started looking for other options.
Unexpected start-up idea
One day, during a casual family conversation, Shilpa’s family praised her cooking skills and emphasized on her ability to prepare delicious north Karnataka cuisine. For years, experimental cooking was Shilpa’s hobby but this time, she began taking it seriously. “I told my brother that we could start a venture that serves healthy food options,” she tells.
Shilpa’s husband did not give her a single penny before leaving. However, she had Rs 1 lakh in her bank account that she had saved for her son’s education. After a lot of thinking, she decided to use that money for setting up the business.
Shilpa saw a Mahindra showroom nearby her house and thought of getting a truck. But one lakh was not enough, as she had to buy raw materials for her business as well. She finally decided to source the remaining amount by selling her jewellery.
In late 2015, Shilpa bought a Mahindra Bolero pick-up truck and started an independent food joint called Halli Mane Rotties.
Shilpa was criticized by many for her decision to sell north Karnataka cuisine in south Karnataka. But that was all she knew and she was ready to take her chances. To her surprise, her food stall became a huge hit, leaving both Shilpa and her critics dumbfounded. The eatery operates between 4pm and 10pm fetches her around Rs 10,000 everyday. Be it doctors, students, or IT professionals, hundreds of people flock to her stall for her delicious north Karnataka recipes.
“It was my circumstances, not a decision to become an entrepreneur that led to the starting of this business. The local residents supported my initiative, and it just clicked,” says Shilpa.
Shilpa says the key to her menu’s popularity is the material from her hometown. “We want to go by the concept of healthy street food. We don’t mix additives or taste or colour enhancers, and want to keep the food homely,” she says.
To give her truck an online visibility, a few tech-savvy students mapped her food truck on the Google search engine that significantly added to her customer base. After stabilizing her income, Shilpa let her brother ditch his job as a security guard to help her run the truck. They now plan on opening a second outlet which would effectively help her brother sustain independently.
Seeing Shilpa’s venture, Anand Mahindra has offered to buy her a brand new Bolero for her second outlet as an investment.
There was a time when Shilpa thought of ending her life by consuming poison. But her attitude towards life to turn things around even in the most adverse circumstances has made her a successful female entrepreneur.
Today, with a monthly turnover of more than Rs 3 lakh, she sets an example to those who are battered and bruised in life to never lose hope, for there is always a better tomorrow.
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