JhaJi Store : Women-led FMCG Startup, Bagging Accolades & Capital From Investors
JhaJi Store is an e-commerce store based in the Mithilanchal region of Bihar that specialises in selling authentic, homemade pickles and chutneys. The store is led by two sisters-in-law who recently grabbed a ton of applause in Shark Tank India.
India finds itself at the core of entrepreneurial enlightenment in the last couple of years and the world is taking notice of it. The startup culture has been nurtured so tenaciously by the government initiatives and big investment corporations alike to give wings to the ambitious journeys of upcoming entrepreneurs. There are myriad new women-led unicorns in the country, reaching the highest tally ever.
Perfectly encapsulating this newly incepted entrepreneurial spirit are two sisters-in-law, Kalpana Jha and Uma Jha, who founded the JhaJi Store, with the name (Jha) representing the native people of Mithilanchal and ‘Ji’ indicative of the simple and sweet tone of affection with which people speak in the Mithilanchal region.
Established in 2020, JhaJi Store pickle manufacturers made headlines after it pitched its business in Shark Tank India recently. Within a month of the episode airing, JhaJi Store has become a household name, as well as gained unprecedented interest from serial investors across the country. Although they didn’t get any investment from the sharks, India’s largest revenue-based financier, Velocity has invested an undisclosed amount in the company to propel its growth. Specialising in handmade and authentic pickles (achaar) and chutneys typical to the Maithili region in Darbhanga, Bihar, the idea was to serve regional pickles to everyone who crave the native taste irrespective of where one is located in India.
Kalpana Jha moved back to her home in Mithilanchal after her husband retired from the government job. Not someone who likes to sit idle at home, she decided to pursue her passion of making pickles and chutneys for which she was already famous. Knowing the passion Kalpana had for cooking, her husband put up a sum of Rs 10 lakh and JhaJi Store came into being. She also included her sister-in-law, Uma Jha in the venture and the duo never looked back. In their 50s, the two businesswomen began sourcing vegetables and raw material from the local farmers and markets, ensuring that their pickles and chutneys don’t carry any artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.
Business Operations at JhaJi
One floor of their home turned into the factory churning out bottles of pickles and chutneys to fulfill the demand. The incomes of the local farmers and women, who were employed by Kalpana and Uma began to experience a surge by doing something that they had been doing all their lives, keeping the cultures and traditions of their region alive. To distribute and market the products, Kalpana’s son’s team at Mensch Ventures contributed and the achaars became household names. Within the first 30 weeks of operations, the company has crossed 10,000 orders.
With the business gaining incredible attention and receiving funding, JhaJi Store is prepared to take the next big steps towards turning this family business into a professional growth story to inspire a ton of nascent entrepreneurs. The plan is to introduce new local flavours to the lineup along with the addition of local dry snacks like Thekua, Nimki, Khaja, deepening the authentic Maithili food experience.
JhaJi Store has reached a point in its inspirational journey where the owners will focus on increasing the speed of production while trying to bring down the costs per bottle, making sure that in the long run, the cost per bottle comes down a bit. The aim is also to build offline stores and warehouses to optimise the operations of the business.
Amazon and other international distributors are planned to be incorporated into the system to fulfill the requirement and orders from Nepal, Bangladesh, Singapore, Australia, Europe and North America. This year, the company plans to expand its operations in some of these varied geographical locations, taking this local venture to promising international marketplace with an ever-increasing Indian diaspora.
Journeys like these depict and embody the very spirit of entrepreneurial and startup culture in India that is only beginning to take its roots. The future of economic and business prowess evidently belongs to India with exponentially rising unicorns every single year. A prime example of such commendable endeavors is expressed in Shark Tank India indicating the direction the Indian startup ecosystem is going in. We will have to keep an eye out for such upcoming business ventures in our country.
Appearance on Shark Tank India Season 2
Kalpana Jha and Uma Jha, Jhaji Store founders were again seen on Shark Tank India Season 2’s first episode, but not as pitchers. Vineeta Singh of Sugar Cosmetics, Namita Thapar of Emcure Pharmaceuticals and a representative of Jharkhand Angel’s Network visited them at their Bihar production unit and awarded Jhaji Store with Rs. 85 lacs for 8.45% of their business.