Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Unjunking Junk Food

For most of us eating right is the mightiest challenge that we have ever taken on. Especially for those working in 9 to 5 jobs, taking time out of busy schedules on weekdays to go to a gym and sweat it out, is a tough task. Also the fact that our worlds are full of junk food, and people short on time invariably end up surviving on a diet of junk food, adds to our helplessness. While exercising might be tough, the easier way out to control your weight would be to control your food habits, avoid the junk. And to help you out in this endeavour two young entrepreneurs, ‘Divyesh Panchal’ and ‘Yash Bhatia’ have started a company by the name of ‘JustUnjunk!’, which gives you the goodness of “Unjunk” food with the taste of the junk! Doesn't that sound so enticing?
Divyesh Panchal

Divyesh, is a Bachelor in Hotel Management and an MBA in marketing. Before starting Just UnJunk! he was worked with Vodafone. His partner ‘Yash Bhatia’ also an MBA was working with him at Vodafone for the same boss. Both young guns always had an urge to start their own venture. Food and Beverage was very close to Divyesh’s heart, his graduation being from that field, and they both decided that it was the perfect industry to get into for them. Thus was born Just Unjunk!

“The normal food available for the aam aadmi has always been junk food. It is cheap, quick and available everywhere,” says Divyesh. Healthy food, on the other hand has always been perceived as expensive, boring and thought of as something that you can’t have daily. “We saw a clear gap between the junk and healthy food and decided to service this market,” he says. Right now their target markets are the corporates. The duos aim is to make affordable Unjunked food for the masses, while ensuring that the taste factor is not compromised. The whole idea is to ‘Unjunk’ the ‘Junk’ food.

To start out, they decided that soups was the best category. “India is not a soup drinking country and the mostly we have soups when we are having Chinese or when we are sick! However, soups are the best way to have vegetables,” says Divyesh. Though they do offer the healthy versions of the ever popular manchow and tomato soups, surprisingly, their flagship soups are that of lentil and carrot. Price range for the soups is 20 to 30 rupees and these are served in glasses. They believe that soups are a very good alternative to the numerous cups of tea that people have in offices, which causes acidity. “Our ultimate aim is to replace those coffee/tea vending machines with freshly prepared soups,” he says.
Yash Bhatia

Apart from soups Just Unjunk also offers juices and salads. The juices are available in a variety of combinations like orange, mausambi and pineapple or apple and guava and vegetables too. Even the salad options are very innovative with an attractive price range starting at 30 rupees for veg salads and up to 60 rupees for the non-veg salads. Salads are pivotal to their entire product stable and have immense differentiation in the way of presentation and taste. They do not have quintessential Ceaser and Russian Salads but altogether innovative range of salad that can seduce any Indian palette. “All Sprouts” to start with, is served with a soup dressing while “Reshmi Murg Salad” has a scrumptious finesse of Reshmi Tikka”.  

The duo constantly works on creating new dishes and they have a host of ideas lined up. People usually have chips and biscuits in between meals and they would like to offer roasted version of chips along with delicious dips. “We have just launched the ‘Unjunk Bhel’ which retains the essence of the normal bhel, but uses roasted chiwda instead of the normal kurmura based bhels,” says Divyesh. They are also looking at starting foot-longs.

Just Unjunk! is currently serving their previous employer Vodafone, a customer base of around 700. The plan is to expand their service to another 10 – 12 corporates by next year and a half. Marketing right now is very low key. It’s more of creating awareness among the customers about the kind of right food options available to them through Just Unjunk!. They have also worked out various combos like soup and salad combo that people can substitute their meals with. Since they are servicing their previous employer, most of the marketing has happened through word of mouth. The response they have received has been very encouraging.

The journey so far has had its fair share of challenges for Just Unjunk!, the biggest one being the perception towards health food. The fact that people have always thought of health food as an expensive option has been a big roadblock for the duo. F&B industry, due to its very nature, has also presented them with a lot of challenges. Inflation and fluctuating prices have been a big headache for them. Fluctuating prices ensure that the profits do not remain stable and it also gives the vendors more bargaining power making procurement a hassle. Then there was also the criticism from a lot of people when they decided to quit their jobs and jump into entrepreneurship.

On the personal front, the whole experience has been very enlightening and enriching for Divyesh. “I would like to be a motivational speaker one day,” he says, explaining how he would like to share his experience, the lessons he has learned with all those who too would like to jump into entrepreneurship. The biggest lesson for Divyesh has been perseverance. “You might have a good idea, but if you don’t have the perseverance to stick to it, then you might end up being just another player in the market, rather than being the one who wants to change the world” he believes. He also believes that it is never too young to start your own venture, “Steve Jobs took his company public at 25”.Running Just Unjunk! has been a challenging and exhausting task, but Divyesh has relished every second of it and looks forward to bigger challenges to overcome in the future.

With their youthful energy and innovative ideas the guys at ‘Just Unjunk!’ are surely going to change the way you look at eating food, they are going to make it tastier and more exciting than you ever thought it could be. And they are going to do this by ‘Unjunking the Junk’!

What do you think about Divyesh and Yash's idea? Do let us know your opinions.

You can check out more about Just Unjunk on Facebook and Twitter

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