- Hi, I am CA Siddharth Patel. While pursuing my MBA in Ireland, I discovered my knack for cooking delicious Indian meals.
- During my time in RSM Ireland, I started O’desi Meals with my friend, which donates 50% of its proceeds to a School for Blind kids.
- Juggling my corporate job with entrepreneurship is challenging but also fulfilling.
I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth yet had a good childhood.
Having a fondness for subjects involving numbers, Plan A was to pursue mechanical engineering at a well-known college in Mumbai. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get in.
I went on to pursue Commerce and eventually Chartered Accountancy from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
Since I passed my CA exams, I had the wish to study abroad, although not where most people were going (i.e. US, Australia, UK, and Canada). I zeroed in on Ireland and opted to pursue my MBA from Trinity Business School (The Oxford of Ireland).
Seven months into my MBA a recruiter reached out to me regarding a role in M&A. By the ninth month in Ireland, I was doing a full-time job along with my MBA.
As part of my MBA Program, I also did a project related to Social Entrepreneurship. I graduated from Trinity in 2018.
Launching a Food Delivery service in Ireland
When I first came to Ireland, I had no other option but to cook for myself. To my surprise, any new dish I tried to cook, turned out to be delicious. Thanks to my mom and a great cook, who guided me.
At college, some of my friends tried my home-cooked meal, and the compliments poured in. They suggested, “Why don’t you cook for us? We’d pay for it.”
I agreed, and along with my flatmates, started taking orders on Whatsapp. Eventually, more orders started coming in. We continued until one day my friend who was studying law in Dublin informed me about food laws in Ireland.
He told me that it was not legal to sell food without a food license, hence we had to stop immediately. I decided to learn the law of the land and start the business again, legally.
In 2018, I got an opportunity to join RSM Ireland. It is a member of RSM, one of the largest networks of audit, tax, and consulting firms in the world.
Fast forward to the next summer, I met my business partner who had just started an Indian tiffin Service in Dublin. He was looking for a chef and asked me to come on board.
All the Indian restaurants and takeouts in Dublin have Europeanised Indian recipes, it is not authentic. That’s why O’Desi Meals was formed, to deliver homecooked Indian meals to people’s doorsteps. That is our Unique selling proposition (USP).
I became the co-founder of O’Desi meals in 2019 while working in Advisory at RSM Ireland.
We started with delivering 35 to 50 tiffins a week. As per our business model, we had to cook only twice a week and deliver it ourselves.
I somehow managed to cook on Wednesdays before going to work and on Sundays in the early morning. I was putting in 20-22 hours a week to the business, along with my 40 hours of a corporate job.
The word of mouth regarding taste and quality was going around Dublin and gradually the number of orders increased from 50 a week to 250 a week.
In early 2020, I moved to Facebook in the Finance team; it got even more hectic. Now I was not able to manage while working a full-time job. We decided to hire a chef and delivery drivers.
Our business picked up a lot more during the lockdown.
As the number of orders started increasing, I decided to take a step back from the kitchen and started managing operations, recruitments, and accounts. We invested in a machine that has taken away a lot of our headaches. Now I just have to dedicate 10 hours a week to the business.
We were breaking even within the first two years and started making a surplus amount from the third year onwards.
O’Desi was not created with the intent to make money. We wanted to contribute to society.
My business partner and I decided to donate 50% of the profits towards the education of underprivileged blind kids at Blind Boys Academy run by Ramakrishna Mission in Kolkata. The remaining 50% is used to support our operations and to help unfortunate homeless people of Dublin.
It has been a very challenging journey but when I look back it’s worth it. From not knowing how to cook to building a business with my own recipes and passing it to the chefs and most of all helping the underprivileged, it makes me feel very happy and proud.
Currently, I work at Evelyn Partners as a Corporate Finance Manager which comprises M&A advisory, valuations, financial modeling projects, etc.
As challenging as it is juggling a corporate job with entrepreneurship, it has still helped me in many ways.
It allows me to put myself in the shoes of my clients, I can understand their rationale for making a certain decision, which helps me to advise them better.
I would encourage finance professionals to make use of their time outside of work. If you are passionate about starting something of your own alongside your day job, then go ahead. If I can do it, you can too.
Aim to make an everlasting impact on other people’s lives. The emotional fulfillment you would get is indescribable.