Take action. Just try it out. Don’t be afraid to fail, because if you can be brave enough to try, at the very least, you will learn something.
Meghana Moya is a TCU alum and was the first international student to be awarded the ‘Distinguished Student’ award in the history of the university. Professionally, she has a background in new product development, operations, strategy & innovation. Originally from Kerala, she was born in India, raised in the Middle East and is now married to a Venezuelan. Her experience of growing up overseas has given her an adventurous flavor palate and a love for connecting people through food from all over the world. She has interned at a French patissier in Bahrain and ran a wedding cake service that donated proceeds to non-profits benefitting children. Meghana came up with the idea for Spice Madam through her desire to make international flavors and spices accessible to everyone and to bring people together through food.
Kim Simithraaratchy is the author of the cooking blog where she shares recipes and stories as a way to spread more love in the world. She graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from MIT and uses these skills in her professional job as a technology consultant where she works with businesses to help solve interesting problems. At night, she puts on her cape/apron and cooks food from all different cultures to share with her family, friends, and blog readers. She is Vietnamese-American with an American/Srilankan husband and the cultures of their families always centered on big family meals where there was always room for one more at the table. Kim wants to bring the joy of sharing a good home-made meal with interesting flavors and stories to more people.
Where did the idea for Spice Madam come from?
Meghana: I had the idea for a spice subscription box to bring flavors from around the world into people lives! I wanted to create a monthly box of different spices from around the world that would teach customers how to use them and help them to easily create memorable meals. I shared the idea with my friend Kim one night as we discussed entrepreneurship over dinner.
Kim: I loved the idea and came up with the name Spice Madam. We decided then and there to try it by meeting once a week every week to work on our business plan. I went home that night and registered the domain and social media handles. We launched our business less than a year later!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Kim & Meghana: Our typical day runs the gamut from product testing, planning out partnerships, creating ways to delight our customers and leveraging technology to keep our business running smoothly. Brand building is key and we’ve found social media to be a great platform to share our story and passion for food. We watch like hawks for customer needs and respond as quickly as possible. Each month, we go through a process of researching and testing recipes, sourcing spices, and eventually packing everything up with a lot of love to send a culinary adventure in a box to our customers.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Meghana & Kim: The first step is to take action. Action creates momentum, which leads to more action, which eventually leads to improvement and growth. We are lucky to have a great partnership where we can bounce ideas off each other, decide which ones we like, and go from idea to action very quickly.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Kim & Meghana: The trend of people being more aware of what they are putting into their bodies. We both grew up in families where healthy, tasty home cooking was central to our daily lives. In our own homes, we love to cook for our friends and family, finding ways to make really healthy, natural food that tastes great. We hope that as everyone becomes more conscious about what they eat, they will enjoy preparing meals to savor and share, while improving their health & quality of life.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Meghana: Voraciously reading and learning…and prioritizing what needs to get done. I used to tease my mom for making lists for everything and now I’m just like her in that way. I take a few minutes at the start every day to write down key priorities and actions and this helps me get the most out of my day. It also gives me room to effectively reallocate my time based on the new challenges that come up throughout the day.
Kim: I’m really good at research. Or Internet stalking people and topics. In order to bring the best quality spices to our customers, we have to search far and wide. The amazing thing is that you can really find anything you want via the web, and social media makes it even easier to connect to the right people and companies.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Kim: I’ve been lucky to have mostly great jobs. My first job out of college was a bit boring, but I still learned what it was like to operate in a very corporate environment, and I also got to travel a bit. Luckily, I knew that it wasn’t for me, and quickly moved on after I had learned all I could.
Meghana: It was the job I had my first year in college, which was sorting large stacks of mail in the campus post office at 5:45 in the mornings. Did you know that any hour before 10am is essentially non-existent in the world of college freshmen?! That job taught me to, first off, appreciate the work behind every piece of postal mail I get, because I know that someone had to sort through piles of envelopes and postcards so I could get it. Secondly, I learned to really appreciate every job I had after that one!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Meghana & Kim: Launch sooner!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Meghana: Meet new people every day, take the time to help them and listen to their story and proactively nurture your friendships. You will need to lean into your network to grow personally and professionally, but you can only do that if you make time for people!
Kim: Take action. Just try it out. Don’t be afraid to fail, because if you can be brave enough to try, at the very least, you will learn something.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Meghana & Kim: Getting featured on key sites with a wide target audience has brought new business our way. The first site that got us a lot of new traffic was Springwise, and we think it is because they both have a large audience and also write very thoughtful articles about the startups they choose to feature.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Kim & Meghana: We haven’t really had anything we’d consider failures…yet! We have definitely had challenges and obstacles that we’ve had to overcome – and that’s all part of the fun of being entrepreneurs!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Meghana: Create one single platform that easily and affordably allows users to schedule posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. There are great platforms out there for some combinations of these, but not one site that seamlessly integrates scheduling for all of them. Solve that problem and you’ll make a lot of entrepreneurs happy!
Kim: Coffee delivery service with a smile!
What is the best $100 money you recently spent? What and why?
The best money we spend each month is on our international spice research and test kitchen. We take the time to seek out the best spices and test several recipes, and variations thereof, before selecting the final contents of our spice box. We capture moments from our kitchen on video to show our Spice Madam family how we put recipes in practice, making it easy to bring people together through food.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Canva: This is an easy way to create fun graphics for social media – and it’s free!
IFTT (If this then that): It’s a great tool for creating links (or “recipes”) between social media sites or your website. For example, you can set up an IFTTT “recipe” to create a Twitter post with a photo every time you post to Instagram. We love this, because posting a link to Twitter straight from Instagram just adds a link to Twitter
Shopify + Chargify: These two platforms together allowed us to launch an online store with recurring billing quickly. The solution is not perfect, but it helped us get going quickly.
MailChimp: Easy to create beautifully formatted emails. Mailing list management. Scheduled email campaigns.
Google Analytics, SumAll: for analytics on our site and social media
Google drive: document storage & collaboration. Works really great from desktop to phone to tablet. Windows & iOS.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Meghana: ‘Now, Discover your Strengths’. This book is based on the Gallup Group’s StrengthsFinder program. Their approach to leadership is to build practice of the attributes & strengths that come naturally to each individual person, while teaching leaders to harness the strengths of others. I love that this book focuses on generating powerful positive leadership by creating awareness of one’s own & other’s natural abilities. At the end of the day, great business and a great life is all about people and this book is one that will give you a toolkit for bringing out the best in people – and ultimately in business.
Kim: #GIRLBOSS – This book is very different from many other business books, in that it wastes no time with platitudes, is highly entertaining, and tells the real story of how Sophia Amoruso started from nothing and worked to build a wildly successful business. Her path is unconventional, but the lessons she shares are highly applicable and actionable. Her voice is unique, realistic, entertaining, and wise. I found myself talking to others over and over about the ideas and her
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Meghana: Richard Branson for his ability to combine serious business with a lot of fun while giving back in many ways & Mary Kay Ash for building a global brand from the ground-up that has created a multitude of career opportunities for women around the world.
Kim: Sophia Amoruso, Tim Ferriss, Sheryl Sandberg
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.