In the vibrant tapestry of Mumbai’s entrepreneurial landscape, Abha Singhaal’s remarkable odyssey from modest origins to a thriving 50-crore enterprise epitomizes the essence of success. Her groundbreaking initiative, Khichdi Express, transcends mere culinary offerings, symbolizing unwavering determination and far-reaching vision. Through this trailblazing venture, Abha not only presents a beloved Indian delicacy but also signifies the resilience and audacity essential for carving one’s path amidst challenges, inspiring aspirants to dream big and pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions relentlessly. Her journey encapsulates the spirit of innovation, fortitude, and the transformative power of unwavering dedication in the bustling city of Mumbai.
From Life Savings to Rs 50 Crore Valuation:
Abha Singhaal embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2019 with Khichdi Express, beginning with a modest cloud kitchen. Over time, the venture expanded, blossoming into eight branches across Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Driven by her aspiration to chart her own path, Abha aimed to challenge societal norms dictating a woman’s timeline for marriage and career establishment. Against familial expectations, she sought independence, refusing to conform to traditional timelines and instead carving her own trajectory.
Reflecting on her journey, Abha recalls her determination to avoid succumbing to societal pressures, foregoing marriage at an early age and shunning the prospect of joining the family business. Armed with an MBA and a meager Rs 5,000, she ventured out at 23, renting a space in Mumbai and securing a job paying Rs 22,000 per month.
More than a decade later, Abha’s Khichdi Express stands as a testament to her resilience. Evolving from humble beginnings, her chain of cloud kitchens and restaurants now values at an impressive Rs 50 crores, illustrating her extraordinary story of empowerment and success.
About the Founders:
Abha Singhaal, the trailblazing force behind the resounding success of Khichdi Express, embarked on a transformative entrepreneurial journey fueled by determination and a relentless drive. Armed with an MBA in marketing and a passion for breaking societal norms, Abha ventured into uncharted territory to forge her path.
Her tenacity was evident from her decision to step away from societal expectations, eschewing the conventional paths laid out for women, and diving into the entrepreneurial world. Starting with minimal resources and undeterred by uncertainties, Abha leveraged her culinary skills, honed during her student days in London, to craft delectable variations of khichdi.
Collaborating with her husband and co-founder, Mahendra Kumar, Abha’s journey from being a self-sufficient young woman in a one-room kitchen apartment to the visionary behind a 50-crore enterprise is a testament to her unwavering resolve, innovative spirit, and the audacity to challenge conventions. Together, they ideated, strategized, and transformed their dreams into reality, revolutionizing the culinary landscape with Khichdi Express. Their unwavering belief in their vision and the relentless pursuit of excellence propelled their venture to soaring heights, symbolizing resilience, perseverance, and the power of entrepreneurial grit.
A Journey of Empowerment:
During her stint pursuing a partial scholarship for her masters in London, Abha Singhaal discovered the humble yet versatile khichdi – a comforting, economical, and filling dish made of mixed lentils and rice. Mastering the art of cooking khichdi during her tight student schedule, she found solace in its simplicity and nourishment. Returning to India with minimal possessions, Abha took a leap of faith, leaving behind the security of her family home to forge her path. With meager belongings and a monthly income of Rs 22,000 from a marketing job, she learned to live frugally, relying on khichdi for sustenance and comfort.
The process of making various khichdi variations became Abha’s solace during challenging times. Faced with uncertainty and having no backup plan, she took a risk, embracing the unknown to chart her own course. Her journey took an unexpected turn when she was discovered by an ad director and earned Rs 40,000 for a day’s acting. This windfall became the catalyst for her decision to leave her job and delve into acting, modeling, and collaborating with renowned brands.
However, her path toward entrepreneurship truly began when she met Mahendra Kumar, now her husband and business partner. After impressing him with her khichdi skills, they envisioned the idea of a khichdi-centric business, marking a significant turning point in her life.
Abha’s odyssey from finding comfort in khichdi during challenging times to leveraging its essence into a thriving business venture mirrors her journey of resilience, taking risks, and embracing opportunities that transformed her life.
The Rise of Khichdi Express:
Pooling their life savings totaling Rs 3 lakhs, Abha and Mahendra embarked on their culinary journey, establishing Khichdi Express in July 2019 as a humble cloud kitchen in Hyderabad, initially with just one staff member. Fueled by Mahendra’s suggestion and Abha’s thorough research on the dish’s popularity, they crafted a diverse menu that ranged from classic favorites like dal, palak, and mixed vegetable khichdi to more inventive varieties such as cheese chilly, pav bhaji, and corn mushroom khichdi. Priced between Rs 209-349, their khichdis offered a complete, wholesome meal.The venture gained immediate traction, and within the first month, they achieved a significant milestone—paying their staff from the profits, reminiscent of Abha’s initial salary. This achievement validated their dream, marked by self-sufficiency without relying on loans or external investments.
Their success propelled Khichdi Express to expand rapidly, establishing a foothold with eight branches across Mumbai and Hyderabad within a short span. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for healthier food surged, benefiting businesses like Khichdi Express. Their nutritious offerings gained attention as prescribed by doctors for their health benefits.The pandemic also saw Khichdi Express contributing to community welfare. They received orders from hospitals, isolation centers, and households seeking healthier meal options. Additionally, they distributed free khichdi to people on Mumbai streets, receiving heartwarming calls of gratitude from recovered patients, affirming the healing power of their food.The meteoric rise of Khichdi Express not only reflects entrepreneurial success but also embodies a commitment to wholesome, healing meals that resonate with communities in times of need.
Defying Notions, One Bowl at a Time:
For Lavanya from Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, ordering from Khichdi Express has been a flavorful, comforting experience for the past year. She praises the delicious and filling khichdis, especially favoring the sumptuous regular dal khichdi. Lavanya stumbled upon Khichdi Express on Zomato and values it as a blessing, a satisfying complete meal for daily office-goers like herself.Abha, undeterred by naysayers who scoffed at her idea of a khichdi business, persisted, proving their misconceptions wrong. Amidst the journey’s highs and lows, including moments when they couldn’t afford even a cup of tea, Abha and Mahendra invested all their profits into building the business.
“We risked everything to thrive. There were times we had only each other and a shared cup of tea due to financial constraints. But those struggles taught us invaluable lessons. Lack of money never hindered us; it only strengthened our resolve and taught us the art of business,” Abha reminisces. Khichdi Express stands tall as a bootstrapped enterprise, a point of pride for Abha. As they aim to expand by launching 300 more branches nationally and venture into international markets, they now seek investors for further scaling.
Abha’s journey, from challenging societal norms to creating a ‘khichdi’ empire, reflects a message of empowerment and risk-taking. She urges everyone, particularly women, to break free from societal expectations, embrace risks & chase their dreams.
“Step out of your comfort zone. Challenge societal norms, take risks, and dream big. Success comes when you break free from conventional constraints and believe in yourself,” she advocates, sharing her unwavering commitment to empowering individuals to reach their full potential.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Ques: How did Abha Singhaal start Khichdi Express?
Ans: Abha began Khichdi Express with her life savings of Rs 3 lakhs, establishing a cloud kitchen with just one staff member in Hyderabad.
Ques: What inspired the idea for Khichdi Express?
Ans: Abha’s journey started from her passion for khichdi, which she discovered during her days as a student in London, where it served as a quick, nutritious, and economical meal.
Ques: How did Khichdi Express expand to its current success?
Ans: With dedication, strategic choices, and the evolving preferences of a health-conscious audience, Khichdi Express expanded to multiple branches in Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Ques: What makes Khichdi Express unique?
Ans: The chain offers a wide array of khichdi varieties, ranging from traditional dal khichdi to innovative flavors like cheese chilly and pav bhaji khichdi, catering to diverse tastes.
Ques: What role did the pandemic play in Khichdi Express’s growth?
Ans: The pandemic accelerated the demand for healthier food choices, amplifying the popularity of khichdi, leading to increased orders and outreach for Khichdi Express.
The story of Abha Singhaal’s journey from zero to a 50-crore empire with Khichdi Express stands as an inspiring testament to determination, passion, and resilience. Her vision and unwavering commitment to her dream propelled her through challenges, transforming a simple passion for khichdi into a flourishing business. Abha’s story is a beacon of inspiration, urging aspiring entrepreneurs to break societal norms, take risks, and pursue their dreams relentlessly. Through her journey, she not only built a successful enterprise but also advocated for individuality and the courage to pursue one’s aspirations. Abha’s triumph with Khichdi Express echoes the potential within each person to create their path to success, regardless of the obstacles faced.
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