TinMen – winner of 5 lakhs at The August Fest5 years ago Varun Rastogi
TIN MEN :The flavour of the season
Enjoying the hype of being endorsed as the startup with most potiental and winning half a million rupees at the biggest startup conference of India(The August Fest 2015) -Tin Men is literally the flavour of the season.
TinMen is an effort to bridge the gap between hard at work office goers and ambitious household kitchens.They call themselves a modern, technology dependent version of the Dabbawala system and I suppose Harvard may have to visit their operations center soon. Smiling with the innocence of a little boy, Mukesh Manda,Co-founder of Tin Men, answers some questions we throw at him.
1.So,How did Tin Men start?
A. I quit my very comfy but unfulfilling job at Amazon about 18 months back and I must say it has been a great journey. Me and on of my current co-founders Chaitanya worked together on a hyper local grocery startup QuickBasket, which failed for various reasons, most of which resulted in some fabulous learnings which we are making the best use of in our current startup TinMen.
My insight into the concept of Tin Men struck me when I realized that after having worked in 2 companies, consulted in 3 and almost never had access to good food at work. So there was a problem and we thought we could solve it if we focus on that one thing completely.
2.”Failure is a steeping stone to succes” -this proverb rings true in your case too.Tell us how tough it was to bounce back. Also how to deal with the inevitable disappointments a startup has to face.
A. It was heartbreaking but I must say the 1 year I spent on my failed startup QuickBasket resulted in a lot more learnings than my entire 4 years of professional life before it.
Recently We were having a tough week at Tin Men and I found this quote by Paul Graham that said “Working for a startup is like being punched in the face every other day, but working for a large corporate is like being waterboarded”. It reminded me of why I was doing what I was doing and everything was back to normal. I whatsapped it to my team and we are gonna make a poster out of the quote very soon.There are some very hard days, but no matter how hard the day is, the satisfaction you have at the end of the day is worth it
3.How did you react to becoming the most promising startup of The August Fest 2015?
A.I was sitting at my demo pod at the end of two intense days and someone calls up and says I won 5 lakhs. It didn’t register at first.I went to the stage doubting it could be a prank and was shocked to see people waiting. Then it finally registered. It was very special since the startup was running out of funds and this money would go a long way. Plus the confidence this gives us. It took some time for me to believe it was all happening. I must say the August fest guys executed the surprise really well. I had no clue.
4.What according to you is the USP of Tin Men?
A.Our app/website is intuitive to use and brings benefits such as –
# A wide variety of home style cuisine which can be had everyday.
# Affordable lunches starting as low as at Rs.50 and a wallet so that you can plan ahead.
# A meal planner so that there is no need of ordering every day. You only have to come back to the app when you need to change your choice or pause/start deliveries.
5.Tell us more about the tin men team.
A. We primarily are four people:I am a full stack developer and do the entire tech for TinMen ,Chaitanya ( Oxford Said bschool aluminus ) handles the delivery operations, Anusha (BITS Pilani Aluminus) handles the food operations,she has had the experience of running a cafe Qafe Bistro earlier,
Madhura (Asian Institute of Management alumnius) handles the sales and business development activities of TinMen.We all bonded over our passion for food and starting up.
6.Any specific plans as to what to do with the 5lacs?
A.Yes, we will be able to do 2 more new hubs (Banjara Hills-Jubilee Hills-Film Nagar will be the first among these two).We are also going to spend some of that money on marketing the product (all the exposure we got till now was only through word-of-mouth).
7.What is your current biggest challenge and how do plan to rise over it?
A.Our biggest challenge with TinMen is to make sure the quality of food and service which our users love right now don’t go down as we keep scaling up and launching in more areas. We are coming up with a uber kind of 5 star rating system for each lunch that users can rate (and we will use the average rating for each homechef/food maker to decide whether they should be on TinMen or not).
8.Lastly,if you could what would you tell the Mukesh Manda who left his job one and a half year ago.
A. I would have told myself to not spend 6 months building the “perfect” tech for quickbasket (my earlier startup that failed) and instead told myself to just build an MVP in a month and go to the users who would either validate it or make it fail fast.
About the founding team:
Anusha (25, alumnus of BITS Pilani) and Madhura (29, alumnus of AIM Manila) joined the team 2 months after TinMen was founded.
All 4 of them connected over love for food and a desire to build a startup.