Chilling the Spicy way with Harsha Vardhana – CoFounder and Director of Chillizens

The taste & flavour of our food is the direct result of the ingredients we use & the sides that we consume it with. If the ‘dosa & chutney’ in Mumbai doesn’t taste the same as in Chennai, it is because of the ingredients. Why doesn’t the ‘dal makhani’ that you get in Bangalore taste anything like what your mom makes? Why do Indians going abroad carry their favourite pickles, papads & masalas even when there are Indian stores abroad? Why is the same turmeric powder priced differently by every brand available in the retail stores? Why can’t I get my favourite barbeque sauce in Visakhapatnam? Well the answer to these woes and many more similar questions is

A fresh startup in the hustling city of Bangalore, chillizens is an online marketplace for condiments & accompaniments operating across multiple channels that not only serves individuals but institutions like restaurants and hotels as well. It is becoming a popular place for Bangloreans to source their daily dose of chutneys, pickles, papads and every other kind that you can think of.

Started by four great minds, Chillizens is founded by Harsha Vardhana D, Saumil Maheshwari, Harsh Vardhan N and Anusha D, who are all B.Tech graduates with master’s degree in business management and each one has great working experience with some of the big firms in the country like Havells and ICICI Bank.

While always busy working around, Harsha Vardhana, the co-founder and Director of chillizens spares some time from his demanding day to talk about his business. While the business is of a different kind in the tech city of Bangalore, Harsha tells me the story of what ignited the spark to start this business venture and how chillzens was born.

Anusha was looking at various business ideas to take up when she stumbled upon the idea of doing something in the traditional Indian masalas, spices, pickles & ethnic accompaniments segment. When she discussed this with me, who was by now living in or travelling to places far off from home & struggling to put together a decent home-cooked meal, instantly recognised that this was a treasure waiting to be discovered with endless possibilities domestically as well as globally with technology as its vehicle. Saumil being well travelled, a thorough foodie himself and a believer in building global businesses saw this business idea to be truly global in nature, as well as a solution to his quest for a challenge. Harsh, a sales guy to the core realised how this business could bridge the gap between what the traditionally unorganised condiments sellers were offering & what the modern hospitality & retail industries demanded. This brought us together, four passionate, young & committed foodies armed with the best of business and engineering degrees that led to the inception of a business. Our goals are to build a world-class, industry defining, profitable & self-sustaining company.

Chillizens is not just another website with a few generic products but we want Chillizens to be the default & ubiquitous platform online as well as offline to go to for buying all your ingredients, seasonings or spreads to cook your food as well as accompaniments for anybody, from anywhere and at any time.

Although the company is currently bootstrapped, they have been making revenue since day one and are now looking to raise funds. Based out of Bangalore, Harsha tells me the reason why they chose Bangalore as the location for their business.

Bangalore is the ideal testing ground for any startup in India. It has a culture & an ecosystem that is very open & conducive for the building of any innovative company. Most importantly, it is very good for testing & validating your ideas.

He promises to expand their network very soon to other cities as well.

With different kinds of competition in the market, building a customer base is important and for that Harsha elaborates on how they are going about it.

Every customer, be it an individual or an institution, wants the best product/service for the money they are willing to pay. It is like a handshake where both the hands meet only when everything is in perfect alignment. So you need to study your target customers to understand what they exactly need or may require in the future in terms of the product, price & the support that they need during or after purchase. On the other hand, it is equally important to profile your product to decide whom to sell it to, how to sell it, how much to sell it for & how to serve the respective buyer of your product.

As we discuss further, more insights are shared on the systems that the team of Chillizens has set up for helping the business grow.

We believe in building businesses that are independent of the people managing them. Chillizens has focused on making knowledge management assets available to every team member so that business operates regardless of the person in-charge. We have also pledged to build a culture of accountability, transparency, meritocracy & ethical functioning using technology as the vehicle.

While Harsha elaborates on the different aspects of his business, he also expresses on what he enjoys the most and also his least favourite part of being an entrepreneur. He loves the freedom with which he can completely leverage his intellectual capacities and the ability to contribute to the creation of something significant without having to be confined by the hierarchies & job roles. But every coin has another side and similarly the uncertainty of how the next day will be, is something that he dislikes.

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Talking about his inspirations, Harsha shares that while he admires Google, Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City and companies like ARM who have successfully taken on audacious goals & achieved unbelievable results, his greatest inspiration has always been Elon Musk, especially for his unconstrained thinking, and ability to execute on his ideas with business acumen.

Finally, as we conclude our discussion since Harsha has to head back to managing Chillizens, he tells me that being an entrepreneur has helped him to look at life as a package of limitless opportunities where you need to accept to find work- around for certain things rather than change them the way you want them to be.

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Business Analyst by profession but truly a travel enthusiast, animal lover, dancer, and an avid reader that has brought me to writing. A reliable team player living in the present with utmost positive attitude who cannot live without friends and family. And I am one of the best persons you will ever meet unless you mess with me :)