Salad Maps - Mapping out the path to success | Sunday Observer

Salad Maps - Mapping out the path to success

The road to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a treacherous one, littered with roadblocks and hardships and could be incredibly challenging to launch a business, but some have the grit, luck and background to blaze new trails and find success in doing so. One such person is RishanThambinayagam, owner of Salad Maps, a highly popular Instagram handle with one ingenious idea and attractive design that amassed a considerable following.

Packing the unique flavours of the world into layers of ingredients within a jar to create an intriguing and eye-catching product, Salad Maps quickly became a fast-growing force of healthy food. However, Salad Maps is just one brand under Cloud Kitchen (Pvt) Ltd., Rishan’s food company that has half a dozen more brands in the works to bring an even greater variety to your dinner table.

A born entrepreneur with big dreams, we got to speak with Rishan himself, who shared with us his journey as an entrepreneur.

Q : How did your relationship with cooking and food service start? Was Salad Maps your first venture?

Cooking has always been a passion and a hobby which I learnt while in university in Manchester, UK, where I had to learn to cook for myself and that is where my passion started and ever since I’ve loved innovating new dishes.

Q: Do you work on Salad Maps alone? If not, what responsibilities does your team have?

I am the only owner of the company called Cloud Kitchen (Pvt) Ltd. which the Salad Maps brand works under. I have two chefs at present who handle the cooking, but I take care of the purchasing, finance, marketing, branding and creation of the dishes. Since we are planning on moving to a bigger kitchen soon and also starting even more brands; to handle the upcoming load we’ll be hiring new staff through job posting advertisements and then interview them.

Q: Was there any particular reason you chose to package salads into jars? Was it simply aesthetic?

Yes, one of the main factors was the aesthetic look of the jars and how the different layers of vegetables and meats made it colourful and appealing but it also serves as a tool which customers can use to eat out of on the go or on their office desk, etc.

Another main reason is my belief in being environmental friendly and moving away from single use plastic.The jar can be reused by our customers, and sometimes when they contact us through Instagram or Facebook, we even arrange a pickup to collect the used jars from the customers and reuse it ourselves.

We have also introduced disposable areca nut boxes which serve the same purpose as its easier to eat from and can be eaten on the go without the need for extra plates or cutlery and it’s 100% biodegradable.

Q: What has feedback been like for you? What have you taken from that feedback?

Feedback has been great, we have received a lot of positive comments about our salads, it’s not only affordable but tasty and large in quantity and a lot of our customers say they even have it as two meals since it’s that big in quantity.

We had suggestions to add a box option as some customers found it hard eating from a jar and would prefer the salads in a box so it would be easier to eat out of, rather than a giant jar filled to the brim when they are not at home and don’t have a bowl to put the salad into; so we have now done that by adding the areca nut box as an option, and therefore introduced the areca nut boxes as an option.

Q: What’s your plan for the rest of the year? What would you consider a successful 2020?

Salad Maps is just the first brand of my company Cloud Kitchen PVT Ltd and we just opened our state-of-the-art centralized kitchen in Borella this month. We aim at introducing another 6-7 brands of different and innovative cuisines under this one centralized kitchen which will be available only through delivery services like Uber eats and Pick Me foods. We are doing this so we can adopt a Cloud Kitchen based model where we don’t have high overheads such as rent (as we don’t have to be located in a highly central area) or have front office staff like waiters cashiers and even avoid costs such as, dish washing, etc. Hence, we are able to have lower overheads and can translate these benefits to the customer by having a wider variety of food through different brands and using high quality ingredients as well as invest in great packaging.

We will soon be introducing more brands that cater to burgers, wraps, Japanese, rice bowls and more.

Q: What advice have you for someone else with a dream of doing something like this?

It should start small and do your research. It’s important to learn the industry you want to get into in detail first, before you expand or invest a lot of money into it. With Salad Maps, I started in my mother’s kitchen and even made salads myself to learn the process. I was involved in purchasing and every other aspect of the business and kept studying the industry and researching day and night until I was confident I knew what I was doing and the direction and plan, before investing in our new state-of-the-art kitchen to which we are now moving.

I followed this same principle with another company I founded called Hello Print where we started with just a basic photocopy machine in 2016 and knew nothing about the industry when I started out but I kept researching and talking to other experts and now 3 years later we are a state-of-the-art digital printing company with the capability to print not only on paper but a wide variety of products like wood, metal, leather, glass, etc. which not many of our competitors can, and we are now one of the leading digital printing companies in the country.