Food brings people together on many different levels. It is nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love. Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not all about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity, and Hironmoy Gogoi, a 23 year old entrepreneur of the food startup “Gaon ka khana” in Sivasagar district, Assam personifies these essences of healthy, traditional Assamese food with earthy flavours, feeding thousand of locals everyday through his online food portal that is not only cheaper than the competition, healthier than the competition but also the ingredients and products used is directly procured from the local farmers. Look at our farmers markets today, bursting with heritage breeds and heirloom varieties, foods that were once abundant when we considered ourselves an agricultural nation, but that we have lost touch with. Bringing all these back helped him connect to his roots, his community and also help feed people the proper way.
After a short stint in the merchant navy, Gogoi barely 18 jetted off to Malaysia to work for an international BPO firm only to find his true calling back home, the passion for food whilst generating jobs for the local youth. For his endeavours, Hironmoy Gogoi was conferred the national award at the 6th national awards for small and emerging businesses2017 and Home grown business of the year 2017 for his brand Gaon ka khana. What makes this so special is that he is actually creating a community around food.
What ignited the spark in you to venture into the food business? How did the idea for “Gaon Ka Khanna” come about?
My desire to preserve our rich ethnicity ignited the spark in me to venture into the food business.
The idea for GKK came up to interconnect rural skills with the technology to build a great business ahead. GKK is solving real life problems by impacting rural livelihood to boom our economy.
How do you find people to bring into your organisation that truly care about “Gaon Ka Khana” the way you do?
By identifying their hunger towards learning something new every passing day.
Describe/outline your typical day?
I segregate my productive hours based on priority level. I work round the clock at times if my goal demands it. I am always open to hug failures each day with an intention to learn something new for upgrading myself. In a day I cover my preparations for all the five career directions mentioned above which is quite difficult to excel simultaneously. Usually I start off with a morning workout, go through a couple of meetings, work related executions and eventually it ends up with a new experience every day.
What motivates you?
The amount of love and respect I receive from the people of Assam.
How do you generate new ideas?
By solving the identified real world problems. I observe human lifestyle and demands of the market.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Regular improvements towards the desired goal and a clear cut plan to accomplish long-term success.
Initially, was it difficult to find and obtain investors for your venture?
We started GKK with just 10 rupees in hand from my home kitchen.
How do you build a successful customer base? By building relationships, serving their needs and respecting their emotions.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I won’t avail that chance as I am strictly adhering to my career plan with a strong determination. Secondly, I cannot buy the time which is gone and if I don’t design my career alongside time then my dreams will be inauthentic because the world is changing every passing day. Time plays a vital role in the journey towards success. I won’t give a second thought about my career because believing in me was my first step while embarking on entrepreneurship.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
It’s all about identifying problems, making improvements, proper planning and execution.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I cannot keep a job for my child or the next generation but I can surely keep a great business for the future generation to secure their lives. As a social entrepreneur, I would like to express that living a life for others is a life worth living.
To what/whom do you most attribute your success? What would say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
I sincerely attribute my success to the efforts of my parents and my elder brother for injecting the power in me.
There are many key elements in this regard and few I already mentioned in my previous answer. Business isn’t just all about huge investment rather, it can also be about finding an idea which creates value for the people by addressing the right market needs and then comes the credibility of your execution followed by the proper utilisation of the available resources near you. Be a learner!
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Converting myself as a brand.
Social Media marketing.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
When I am not working, I write, I listen, I sing and I lift.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
After the sudden demise of my elder brother in a road accident when I was just 15 and the demise of my mother a few years later due to an illness when I was 18 after a long tragic struggle of over 12 years to save her life, I started accepting whatever life throws at me as a challenge and to respond back with precise actions without wasting anymore tears. There were numerous problems that stopped me from continuing my further studies and to live my dream starting from depression, familial instability to financial drawbacks but I never cheated on my dream and I never wanted to make the burning problems of my life as an excuse for the failures. So I converted the biggest tragedy of my life (mother’s demise) into my biggest motivation to let the entire world know who I am one day. Hence, I developed a strong fight back attitude in life to win my dreams. I sacrificed everything.
I lived a worst life with hunger, criticism, discrimination, discouragement, disloyalty, loneliness, failures, bankruptcy, less qualification, poor lifestyle to arrive at the stage I am standing today. The only solution I had for my survival and rescue from inhuman activities was to keep working hard continuously and that’s what exactly I did. More problems arrived, more work I did. More failures arrived, more wisdom I acquired. Life was blank after the loss of my mother and the sorrow was inviting me to quit my life as I was directionless. But I stood up over and over again whenever life kicked me down and thought one day life will be tired of kicking me repeatedly. There was no one in this whole world for me except my dad but today there are hundreds of people who love me for the impact I am creating across Assam. I stopped waiting for a perfect time or a perfect opportunity and I started creating the prefect time as well as the perfect opportunity because now the power is in me, that’s a strong belief.
Where do you see “Gaon Ka Khanna” in 10 years? 20 years?
A reliable brand across many nations. In short, I see GKK as an MNC in the making.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Falling down is okay but refusing to stand up again is totally not okay. Start small but your dream should be very big. Start wherever you are, with whatever you have, with whomever you can, just let the journey begin. The world will need you one day if you don’t give up and never cheat on your dreams. Don’t live a fear, live a life. Don’t focus on what you couldn’t do; focus on what you still can.
Entrepreneurship is the future of India and the future India is looking for the future you. So don’t leave any opportunity or dreams left behind in life. Do whatever you wanted to. Build a life, not just a resumè.