Next in our Rule Breakers series is Shelley Gupta, the co-founder behind BāKIT Box, a successful food startup that she created in her own kitchen.
Shelley Gupta has her MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she focused on Entrepreneurship and Strategy. While working in corporate, she started baking as a hobby, but was frustrated with the time spent sifting through familiar recipes online and the high cost of ingredients just to make one cake or a batch of cookies. After experimenting in her kitchen, she figured out a way to create a no-fuss baking experience. BāKIT Box is a subscription baking kit that allows customers to choose recipes they like, and get culturally diverse, pre-measured ingredients and step-by-step instructions delivered right to their door.
Shelley even pulls from her own Indian heritage and offers staples like Jalebi and Gulab Jamun, and wants to show how you can celebrate different cultures and cuisines through baking.
Here’s a bit more information on Shelley and her background.
1. What motivated you to start this business?
I started this business a few years ago when I realized there has been no innovation in baking in 100 years. When you think about companies that are synonymous with baking and give you easy baking solutions we naturally think about Betty Cocker but this brand was started in the 1920s. But in this generation, we have different pain points than we had in the 1920s so I felt the need to come up with a more modern solution to make baking less intimidating.
One of such pain points that I came across during my research was decision fatigue that happens while filtering through so many different recipes for the same dish online. This wastes a lot of time, money, and food because you have to buy ingredients in larger quantities than you will actually use. This was my motivation to start BāKIT Box.
2. How did you raise funding for your venture?
We started out as self-funded. We invested a lot of personal savings in this business. Last summer we started looking for outside funding. We won $20k in a Zoom pitch competition and from there on we started talking to friends and family and various investors.
3. How do you build a successful customer base?
The first thing is to be authentic with the customers. I want our customers to see that we are the real people behind the brand and that we are here to help them be successful with their baking. This is our main goal. To achieve this, I personally speak to my customers either through phone calls or emails and answer their questions regarding baking.
4. How do you generate new ideas?
I get inspired by a lot of different things. Interestingly, I love to travel and I am a big foodie. So BāKIT Box is a combination of both those things; travel and food. A lot of our recipes are inspired by my or my team’s travels. We also do a lot of research around different holidays and seasons and their flavors.
5. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?
In terms of business, I don’t necessarily have fears, but I do have to take some calculated risks. To manage it, I try to take as much time as I can to think through various scenarios. I talk to my advisors and people around me to help me mitigate the potential risks.
When it comes to personal fear, the fact that we have yet not explored the ocean to its entirety is scary and fascinating to me. I love the ocean and swimming, but I can’t help but wonder what lies beneath all these waves.
6. What are your ideals?
When it comes to business, we want BāKIT Box to become a household name and be synonymous with baking. And I see the potential in it, so I am very excited for its future.
Personally, I have a lot of things that I try to accomplish. One of those is traveling. I try to travel to a new country every year. Another is to feel fulfilled professionally and personally.
7. If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
The three things I would do, in no particular order, would be to make the world more tolerant and accepting of others’ differences. The second would be that all the children have access to high-quality education. The last one would be to create gender equality in the world.