Climbing the stairs of the worn-out building at iconic Bombay Gujarat Hotel in the city centre of Srinagar throws up many surprises. Room number 101 of this hotel, located in the busy commercial hub of erstwhile Palladium cinema lane in Srinagar is nowadays buzzing with activity. In a limited available space of not more than 10/10 feet, the room has become a launchpad for business activities of a startup service Iftaar Ze’an (an assorted box containing fruits and other Iftaar commodities) delivered at the doorsteps of their clients.
While many of us are still lazing around on a fasting day, these young entrepreneurs, none of them more than 24-years-old, reach the hotel room early morning to ensure the ball is set rolling for the day. From marketing and operations being taken care by Nihal Rehman and Umer Kirmani to accounts being handled by Fasahat Allaqaband and Aqeel Nehvi, the team is busy every single day. With its member Zaid Qureshi attending the customer calls, others who have just returned from the fruit mandi with the day’s consignment of fresh fruits get their act together to pack an assortment of Ramadhan essentials in corrugated boxes to be delivered for their clients across the city. Young designer Furqan Bazaz ensures that the design elements associated with Iftaar Ze’an are eye catching.
“Sometimes even during my sleep I feel I am at the mandi collecting the fruits. As a startup entrepreneur venturing out to a fruit mandi is an altogether new experience. More than anything we want to ensure quality so we procure the fruits directly from Delhi which we collect in the mandi here,” says 22-year-old Furqan Qureshi, who heads Kartfood, a food delivery service which is one of the two startups behind the Iftaar Ze’an service. “Our venture has been making home delivery of food for quite sometime now. We have that edge. In addition we did a market survey and came to a conclusion that people face a lot of inconvenience to buy fruits, dates etc during Ramadhan which we should deliver to their doorsteps,” says Qureshi.
Iftaar Ze’an is packed in three different assortments whose price also varies. Boxes priced at Rs 499, Rs 699 and Rs 999 are offered by the team Iftaar Ze’an. They charge a one-time subscription of Rs 199 which is refundable for their clients who will avail the service eight times during the holy month of Ramadhan
Unlike many youngsters of his age, deeply focussed on entrepreneurship, 24-year-old Nihal Rehman exudes confidence about success of Iftaar Ze’an. Rehman’s Captivating Kashmir, which deals in digital marketing, is the second startup behind this doorstep delivery service.
“I strongly believe in joint ventures and that any boost to our startup ecosystem is possible only if we can join hands,” says Rehman adding that the team at Iftaar Ze’an initially tried to pack the fruits, dates, basil seeds in a tradition cane basket but had to soon drop this idea. “That was not economical considering we pack several kilograms of fruits including water melons. So we had to instead use corrugated boxes for the deliveries. In the first year of this service even if we are a no profit no loss venture we don’t mind it. The focus is to deliver a quality service,” says Rehman.
Furqan Qureshi, who has been catering a vast clientele of various restaurants and cafes through Kartfood says a client base of 370 at present for Iftaar Ze’an has been garnered by this service itself, which they expect to become 500 in next few days. “It is mostly business houses and private sector which we are catering to, besides the home based orders. We have been in talks with many companies in the private sector who have shown interest in Iftaar Ze’an,” says Qureshi. He says they have been receiving bulk orders for customized boxes as well. “Some clients order for an assortment of dates, basil seeds and tang only while others want just a variety of fruits,” says Qureshi. Qureshi says survival of a startup service in a market such as Kashmir comes with several challenges.
“The first season for this sort of a service is important for its survival. There are startups with a capital of several crores of rupees but fail due to its shoddy implementation. We are keen that Iftaar Ze’an does well and even have plans of home delivery of bakery for Eid if all goes well,” says Qureshi.