When She means Business….
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In fact why just men? It’s true for everyone. However, little do we know that in Hyderabad we have some of the best women entrepreneurs who are running restaurants and feeding the hungry souls for quite a few years. One thing common among them is their passion to stand out. In the coming weeks, every Wednesday, I would be talking to one such women and present her story for all my readers.
In today’s episode we have Soumya Janagama… Let’s find out from her the story of Cibo House in this brief conversation.
1. Tell a little about yourself
I am Soumya Janagama. Born and brought up in Hyderabad. Always inclined more towards academics and never imagined I could apply my education to restaurant industry.
Have done my Undergrad in Mechanical Engineering from Osmania University and Masters in Supply Chain Management in U.S, and worked as a Functional Analyst in JDA software for 4 years.
2. What made you start Cibo House?
My husband is into F & B industry for the past 6 years and started CIBO house in 2015. He is the one who established the brand and made all the right decisions to make it a known name in the city. Joined CIBO house 8 months ago and have been taking care of Operations and Marketing since then.
3. What were you doing before Cibo House?
I was working in an IT firm called JDA software as a Functional Analyst. An year ago, my husband asked me if I could take care of the operations as I was working on problem statements like Inventory Optimization, Cost minimization, Process standardization as part of my IT job which could be applied to the restaurant industry as well. So, I finally took the plunge to quit the job and join CIBO.
4. As a woman, what challenges did you face while setting it up? How did you overcome?
For me, the transition from an IT employee to an entrepreneur was smooth as I was joining a brand that has already been setup and well accepted. But there was also an added pressure to add significant value. In the initial days, I felt people were not taking me seriously but that changed over time. I was very firm on certain choices that I had to make and that I felt has changed the perception of people towards me. This could also be due to the fact that I was dealing with people who were more experienced than me in this field who liked work to be done in traditional ways. Either the case, communicate, understand and come to a consensus but don’t step back.
5. How was Cibo House accepted by Hyderabad?
Hyderabad’s food scene has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 5 years. Travel, exposure to international cuisines, social media has made customers more knowledgeable about food and question the authenticity. With so much happening, we were still able to strike the right chords with our fusion of European and Indian flavors, all this in less than 3 years with 2 outlets. This happened because we took customer feedback seriously and evolved from Italian a la carte to European buffet restaurant.
6. What is the USP of Cibo House?
We were the first ones to start the concept of European buffet in the city and 70% of the food is freshly prepared after you are seated and served on the table. Although, not every customer might be able to pinpoint the difference between freshly prepared food and reheated food, we know that the overall experience with us was rated high just due to this reason. Fresh food is always tastier.
7. How do you motivate your workforce?
- Communicate your vision for the company to every employee at every level constantly. (short term & long term goals, targets, performance etc)
- Recognize and appreciate good work.
- Address employee issues as religiously as customer issues.
The above 3 resonates with the culture of your company.
8. What plan do you have for Cibo House in the next 5 years?
Now that we understood customer expectations, expansion is definitely on the cards. Also, we would love to experiment some more with European flavors and broaden our horizons with some Indian & World cuisine fusion food. After all, good food will be accepted irrespective of the origin.
9. Do you encourage other women entrepreneurs make similar ventures? What tips do you have for them?
I know a few other women in the restaurant industry who are already doing a great job and yes, why not, it would be wonderful to see more of them. I was someone who would always play safe in everything. Quitting my job was quite a big decision that I had to take and was always scared of regretting. In the process, I have understood that taking risk pays off if you have the right intentions and work towards it. So girls, increase your risk appetite.
A big thanks to my dear friend Sankalp, without whom this would have been incomplete.
It will be very helpful, if you can leave a comment and let me know how you liked it. May be a small note on your suggestions to help me grow.
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