Archana Hebbar, a Software Engineer by profession and food video blogger by passion, she was born and brought up in Udupi, Karnataka. She is the founder of Hebbar’s Kitchen, an online recipe hub dedicated to share two-minute long videos to its vegetarian foodie followers.
Well, what’s so special about a vlogger who shares online recipes, you ask! Interestingly, data doesn’t lie. Archana’s Facebook page has nearly 9.3 million followers and their videos have garnered more than 1.6 billion views. According to a survey released last year by a video analytics company, Hebbar’s Kitchen was the third most popular Indian video publisher on Facebook. The website is clearly a culinary joint for those working hard day and night and misses homemade sambar or rasam.
SheThePeople.TV catches up with the culinary magician…
How was your love for cooking born?
I have always felt that cooking soothes me, balances out my mood but I never thought of making it as a blogger someday. The reason could be that I had a professional security blanket – as a Software Testing personal. After getting married, when I moved to Australia with my husband, I wanted to continue my professional life. But as a non-experienced person, finding a job became difficult. Since, I had plenty of time to kill and being a workaholic, sitting idle at home was making me go nuts, my husband, Sudarshan, and I came up with this idea of sharing easy and basic recipes online paired with photos. What started as a fun time-pass activity turned out to be a success, as from the initial stage itself it gained a great response. I was inspired by the idea that there were very few Indian channels that deal with the same idea, and they generally didn’t go in for vlogging. Both of us started discussing it over meals, and finally, sharing Indian recipes in a form of short videos on Facebook became my permanent agenda. Hence, in 2016, having received amazing response, I took the entrepreneurial plunge.
I really didn’t cook much before getting married. However, I could do easy stuff like making rasam and dal. I wasn’t really worried about it because my dad always says, “if you can prepare a typical Udupi rasam deliciously, then you can cook anything.” obviously, it’s not as simple as that, but yeah, it’s really not that hard either. It just takes practice and a bit of trial and error. My passion for cooking started all because of my husband Sudarshan, who is fond of Udupi and Indian cuisines. And in Australia, it is very difficult to find Udupi cuisine in restaurants. And as all of us have heard “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” I decided to cook and experiment myself.
Before Hebbar’s Kitchen, I had not taken any professional culinary classes. However, I have learnt a lot of culinary techniques from elders.
What are the responsibilities that you take up daily and how do you keep up the status?
Content creation is not a one-day job. My husband and I plan the entire week’s schedule well in advance. We make sure to add recipes from different categories like breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and desserts. This not only helps to get a variety of recipes but also helps users to try most of them in their daily routine. And I also make sure to show the recipes as simple as possible, so that readers feel like trying it out. In addition we try to accommodate the incoming reader requests to our schedule and try to meet the current demand.
What type of deterrents did you face?
We are vegetarians, and hence we need to stick to vegetarian cuisine. Having said that, as we all know India has a wide variety of vegetarian cuisines and we are exploring them.
Explain why the venture you founded is so efficient?
I guess it is the short videos, which makes my readers to try my recipes. I also try my best to post videos everyday, which helps my readers to be in touch. And I make sure to share simple recipes like that of chutney to the difficult ones like baking a cake.
I keep the video short and share step by step photo of the recipe, notes and tricks for each recipe in my website. This motivates a user to refer and try my recipes. Also, I give online support in solving queries via Facebook page messenger and email.
What is your core passion and long-term vision?
Well being a food blogger has certainly been bliss but we are prepping to go big now since my recipes have garnered love from across the world. The plan is to merchandise our brand, tie up with e-commerce to deliver the recipe ingredients. Looking ahead, opening food outlets and creating food chains are also in the planning phase now.
How did you manage funding for the base operations initially?
We never thought we would be earning from Hebbar’s Kitchen. The main motive to start it was to use my time productively and to keep myself occupied. Previously, I used to shoot videos from my iPhone attached to selfie stick and edit it on my personal laptop. The video quality wasn’t that great but it was a good start. Later, my husband gifted me a DSLR camera, professional video editing software and high-end desktop machine to shoot and edit higher quality videos. This motivated me to work harder. As a result, I invested some time to learn how to edit more professionally. Also, I make sure my husband watches all the videos, before I upload, as a second opinion always helps to fine-tune the video better. In short the response is amazing and we are thrilled to see ourselves at the top among Indian food channels on Facebook.
What has been your most amazing moment?
It was the day when BBC News featured my business with the title ‘Hebbar’s Kitchen and the Indian couple behind a food video empire.’ Since then I am motivated as ever to grow in this business, to reach out to those who miss homemade food.
What are the biggest challenges that have come your way?
Every phase of the journey was challenging, as I and my husband had no knowledge about creating a website, videography, photography and editing. We had to learn everything from the scratch. We always, sit together and assign tasks to each other on what to do next, so that we can focus on it individually.
Being in the culinary industry and having started on your own, what did it teach you? Why do you think the start-up ecosystem is unfriendly towards women?
Everyone has ideas, but getting them up as a reality is not everyone’s cup of tea. There will be a lot of limitations and restrictions that one will face, so, one should be ready to handle those. And for women, it can be a success if your family supports.
Do you believe the start-up ecosystem will take a long time to transform in order to become gender-balanced and female-friendly?
Not really. I feel today families are supporting women in fulfilling their dreams. I am happy that my husband not only trusted in my idea but also helped me to grow it.
How can we encourage more women to take up entrepreneurship?
Believe in yourself. As no job is small and no idea is stupid.
Believe in yourself. As no job is small and no idea is stupid.
Women chefs are now empowered by social media platforms. How do you think its reach can help women grow in the business?
Women are definitely great cooks. And now we can see, women are taking it up professionally, and they are living their dreams.
Do you think digital media has shaped women’s entrepreneur passion?
Digital media is a platform where you can try anything without the fear of failure. You are not going to lose anything. It has made our life so easy that; we can sit in our homes and reach audiences worldwide.
What impact did the digital boom have on you and your company?
India is turning digital. There is a greater reach now to a wider range of audience. The digital boom is helping content creators to reach out to larger brands and is also helping them in generating revenue as well.
Any tips for women entrepreneurs?
Never give up and be consistent in what you are doing.
Feature Image Credit: Archana Hebbar