Mwando's journey of
culinary entrepreneurship with
Mwando is a student at Sanskriti University in India, doing an Epitech bachelor in computer science. However, he was born and raised in Zambia. He and two other students have started a side business, Heavens Meal, that generates income to sustain them and help them with future plans.
Most of the food in India consists of vegetables. Traditionally, people tend to have a vegetarian diet, therefore most restaurants solely provide vegetarian dishes. Mwando saw an opportunity: “We have many international students here, who would like to eat some non-vegetable food as well. So I thought, let’s serve this group of students in our own restaurant. Luckily, we were able to take over a restaurant on the university premises and the university provided us with a continuance permit.” It was quite a financial risk, however they felt confident and therefore it did not feel like a risk.
“People are really loving what we cook! ”
When they had to decide what kind of food they would serve it was obvious. Mwando and his cooks are all from Africa and African students make up quite a large part of the international student community at Sanskriti University. What makes a dish typically African? Primarily the preparation: boiling, steaming and pan frying. Typically, few fats are used, even when frying. Secondly, spices are important. Not only do most dishes include a variety of spices, but many aromatic and exotic spice mixes are blended for meat rubs and more. Mwando: “Our most popular dishes are Jalof, a rice dish, and Ugali, which is made from maize. People are really loving what we cook! It’s hard work, our time management is a challenge, but it is very rewarding.” In the near future they plan to extend the menu by introducing Indian dishes, with and without meat.
What makes a dish typically African? Primarily the preparation: boiling, steaming and pan frying.
“The platform is amazing. It's working very well for us, it was really unexpected! ”
In January 2023 Mwando opened the doors of Heavens Meal for the first time and they had a good start. However, after a few months he realized that they needed an online ordering system in which students and other people would be able to order their food 24/7. On Google he searched for “free online food delivery application or website” that would enable him to create a menu and a delivery system. And additionally, that could also provide a direct view on the orders that have been placed for the restaurant. Eventually he found Vev, Mwando: “The platform is amazing. It's working very well for us, it was really unexpected!”
“Mwando shared the Vev link in various WhatsApp groups on the campus. Five minutes later their second customer had already placed an order! ”
Tips & Tricks
Heavens Meal got their first online customer the very same night that Mwando had finished editing their new page on the Vev platform. The very first customer was a friend of his. She made her order because she was so impressed with the look and feel of Vev and wanted to be the first person to order online. That same night, Mwando shared their Vev link in various WhatsApp groups on the campus. Five minutes later their second customer had already placed an order! This is also his big tip to other entrepreneurs: a shared link in an app group with many people, can reach thousands of other potential customers in no time. To Heavens Meal existing customers they would give the link or let them scan the QR code when they were in the restaurant. They also placed posters with a QR code on campus, so (potential) customers can have it on their phones as well.
“In our first week of using Vev we generated an 80% growth in sales, that felt phenomenal! ”
Mwando: “It felt so amazing because everything that we needed was actually there on the application, it just made everything so much easier”. When people order offline by phone or in the restaurant, the Heavens Meal team adds these orders directly into the system. Mwando: “With all online orders, we can see the revenue that will be generated. By adding all offline orders as well into Vev, we can see the total revenue that we generate per day, week or month. I love that feature. In our first week of using Vev we generated an 80% growth in sales, that felt phenomenal!” Another big improvement for Heavens Meal are the data that generate from the orders that are made. Now they are able to see exactly which dishes are most ordered. That helps them a lot in their preparation. And for future menu changes, it is good to know what customers really love the most.