Traditional and Native Delicacies on a Digital Platform at Nativ Chefs

From #NICEStories. Nativ Chefs won 2nd place at the NICE Aarohana Business Plan Competition (BPC) – Early Stage.

Nativ Chefs is a multicuisine digital platform for traditional and native delicacies made by home chefs and delivered to customers at their doorsteps with just a click. Featuring the Nativ Chefs story on NICE Stories. What was the motivation to bring native delicacies from home kitchens to consumers? What is the founder’s vision? How did she go about developing a tangible business? Read on.

Meet the Founder

With 15+ yrs of work experience in various industries, Leena Dixit founded Nativ Chefs because of her passion for food. She has a B Tech in Electronics, PGD in Public Relations & Corporate Communications, and an MBA in Marketing. She has been part of the Women Startup Program at NSRCEL, IIMB.

Leena is also a sportsperson having played Badminton for most of her life, including at the National level. This is her story.

Founding Nativ Chefs 

Food is an inseparable part of our lives. Our food culture has been an important part of who we are and how we express ourselves. However, not many people are lucky enough to experience regional food, let alone authentic traditional food. I wanted to bridge the gap between yesterday and today and bring people closer to their roots. I was keen to work in the food industry but was unsure of where to start.

In my years of experience, I had noticed the gender imbalance in the workplace. While women are highly talented, they are definitely not seen showcasing their talent. This got me thinking; I began to connect the dots. I conceived a digital platform for passionate home chefs to cook their traditional family recipes for consumers who are seeking native, regional cuisine. Thus, Nativ Chefs was born in 2018 in Nagpur, my hometown.

Idea Validation

As a first step, I focused on validating my idea. My team conducted multiple surveys to understand consumer sentiment and concerns. We then put together a business model incorporating the insights from the market analysis.

Chef Community

Our home chefs are our food heroes. Armed with traditional Indian recipes from their grandmothers and mothers, these homemakers whose lives revolved around food, today feel empowered because of it.

We organize various activities and training sessions to equip them to deliver better. Their home kitchens are professionally made over with all the standard sanitary protocols.

Today we are a proud family of 70+ chefs and going strong.

Our Vision

We have a clear vision – we want as many home chefs who are passionate about bringing their family delicacies to the world to be part of our community! Join us!

Brand Building

Given my background and experience in Public Relations, building a brand was high on my priority.

  • Instead of offering discounts, we focused on quality. Our orders grew and our strategy of focusing on quality without price-cuts was validated.
  • Trust is an intrinsic part of building a brand. So, from day 1, our USP has been our transparency. We remain transparent not only to our customers but also to our community of home-chefs.

Brand building is an ongoing process and we will continue working on it.

Combining Tradition with Technology

We offer a range of premium delicacies made from simon-pure recipes that have been passed down through families for generations:

  • Authentic recipes
  • Home-cooked food
  • Freshly made on order

Our delicacies are available for order both on our website and through our app.

Demand for Home-made Food During the Pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, people were wary of ordering food from restaurants. They looked for clean home-cooked options and chose Nativ Chefs as their go-to for ordering food. Not only did we go up 65% year-on-year, but we also recorded an impressive repeat ratio of 83% repeat ratio during the third quarter of this financial year.

The food we deliver is highly appreciated, and we are 1000+ customers and growing!

Packaging and Presentation

The food we deliver is packaged and presented with exceptional care and attention.

We ensure that the customer’s entire experience from ordering to relishing the delicacies is friction-free and of high quality.

Current Challenge

Our top challenge is in acquiring customers. While we need to spend on marketing, we lack the funds.

We are growing slowly, mostly through word of mouth.

A Sportsperson Perspective

Having been a badminton player for most of my life, the learnings from play have stood me in good stead.

  • No looking back

Sports adapts you to accept both wins and failures. This has given me a great perspective in my entrepreneurial journey – ups and downs are a part and parcel of life.

  • Focus on the moment

When at play, you have no choice but to focus on the moment. This has been a valuable lesson! There is no time for comparisons or distractions.

When at play, give it your all! And if you face setbacks, simply work harder.

As a Cultural Entrepreneur 

While it’s not easy to make people stay connected to their roots especially in the world of fusion and innovation, at Nativ Chefs, we have stayed true to our vision and core values.

Although we strive hard to bring traditional regional food to the market and will continue to, it is not the onus of any one person. As a society, we must step up and own our heritage.

We must keep our traditional food alive.

With the ever-changing landscape of the food industry, we must cling to our roots and not let them perish. At Nativ Chefs, we think it is best to take our history with us as we march forward.

On Winning the NICE Aarohana Business Plan Competition

Congratulations Team NICE for putting up a great show. Appreciate all the hard work and support during the BPC!

I had my NICE buddy, Chitra to help me out. What a wonderful concept to have a buddy who motivates you to give your best.

This conversation, originally published in NICE Resource Center, was authored by Chitra Aiyer. 

Chitra is interested in all things Indian and enjoys reading and writing. She has been a technical writer, a freelance writer, blogger, professional photographer, content creator, and an architect. She has worked in startups and has also been part of various citizen-led initiatives, both in the online and offline world. She trained in architecture and professional writing. She is an alumna of Mysore University and San Jose State University. 

Images from NativChefs