Most of the Indians love to eat street foods. Indian street foods have a wide range of varieties that no other country would offer. A food lover always searches for the best food vendors that are available in a particular city or town. Sometimes the search process becomes quite difficult. And, most of the times we miss out on the best Indian street foods just because we didn’t have any information about them. To simplify this process, Harsh Shah, a 23-year-old young entrepreneur from Mumbai started working on developing an Indian street food finder app since the end of 2014. Harsh’s ideas became a reality in August 2016 when ekplate app was officially launched. The ekplate app is presently available for iOS and Android platforms.
The ekplate app is presently restricted to Mumbai. The team aims at making ekplate the biggest possible repository of Indian street food information with plans of including street food details of other cities soon.
We would get to know more about them today as Harsh Shah, the founder of ekplate joins us in this interview session of conflatingVisions to share their story.
Hi Harsh, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To begin with, we would like to know a few lines about you.
I am Harsh Shah, a 23-year-old Business Graduate and I have been working on making ekplate a reality since the end of 2014. I am a true foodie by heart. Doing own business has been our family tradition, so, it was natural for me to take that route.
Please tell us about ekplate. How do you go about building the information base of Indian street food vendors?
Ekplate is a street food finding app that helps people find street food around them.
We define street food as: Food that is served on the street or street food like chaat and other typical street food dishes served in small restaurants.
We have a dedicated team that maps out the entire city of Mumbai and visits new Indian street food vendors and adds them on the app every day.
Harsh, what inspired you to start working on ekplate?
This may sound dramatic. When I was in my final year of graduation, we used to have a break during lectures for lunch. There used to be one famous sandwich vendor near our college and everyone used to only flock there.
What used to end up happening was that sometimes you would miss out on getting the sandwich you wanted.
Once while walking towards my college, I noticed a small sandwich vendor that was near my college, but I had never seen him before. After talking to him, I realized that he has been there for the past 20 Years!
That’s when it hit me that these Indian street food vendors have been working so hard and have such amazing stories but have nowhere to promote themselves.
I truly want to make a difference in their lives in the smallest way I can. I am looking for people who share the same long-term vision as me to create a social impact.
How challenging was it for you to bring the idea of Indian street food finder application to reality?
It was not hard to find people who believed this street food finder app should exist. But it was definitely really hard finding people who were ready to put the money where their mouth was and actually fund it.
In the start-up space, nowadays everyone is looking for a quick entry and exit. But we are creating something more than that.
In the beginning, it was also hard to find a team that wants to truly help and uplift the vendors. But eventually, it got easier. We are still looking for like-minded people to join us on this journey.
Please share the investment details.
Ekplate is presently Self-Funded.
When are you expecting to break-even?
In two years.
How are you reaching out to prospective users to try out the ekplate app?
As we are in the bootstrap stage, we are presently focussing on getting users organically. Since ekplate has been in the Indian street food space for so long, we have managed to create a good social network presence.
How has been the journey so far for you?
The journey has been extremely enriching. I have personally met over 200 Indian street food vendors and came to know about the problems they face. The stories and life experiences of each of the vendors are amazing. We are trying to get these stories out there through our social media.
What are your future plans for ekplate?
We want to aggregate the biggest possible repository of Indian street food information and contacts and connect the street food patrons to their favourite “Ek Plates” first in Mumbai and then across India.
Plans are there to train the street food vendors on health and food safety.
We have already started sending SMS and WhatsApp messages to our loyal vendors about the same.
In the future, we want to create a standard that if a street food vendor is affiliated with ekplate the food served would have some level of quality.
And one last question of this session Harsh, if you have had one wish…
I wish I had free food for the rest of my life.
I wish for 1 million street food vendors registered on the ekplate app.
Oh, that’s more than 1… Sorry, I wish for 1000 wishes!