Varun Madan doesn’t underestimate the taste of raw fruit and veggies. Through his business based in India, he makes salads which are both tasty and filling.
What’s your story?
I love soil and over the last decade, I have peacefully motor-biked through many cultures and well kept secrets of India, neighboring countries and the west coast. As part of my exposure to different cuisines, I realized that raw veggies and fruits have a great taste of their own. Just tossing them up with extra virgin olive oil or a couple of vinegars creates magic. This qualified as a great discovery because like most Indians, I too believed that healthy is neither tasty nor filling. That’s because salads were always served as a small side in a boring bowl along with the tasty, heavy main course. It seemed like a very interesting project to dent our mainstream eating habits and compliment them with healthier and tastier options. Put simply, I believed that if we were exposed to real salads, we would love them. This is how Salad Days came about.
What excites you most about your industry?
That the food and beverage industry has always been one of the biggest and most penetrated industries, yet not executed with consistent clarity. That this industry touches every single person alive at least 3-4 times each day, yet there are such prevalent loopholes in the laws governing it. That the fads come and go so quickly in this industry and we become a victim to each one of them, every time. That the consumers are inundated with options, yet they find it difficult to make a choice. That, as part of the latest fad, the core is treated with less importance and the frills with more. And last, that now, in India, a lot of young and well educated entrepreneurs are entering into food and beverage industry.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I love Asia’s diversity in terms of ethnic groups, cultures, languages, food, religions, topographies, environments, histories, economics and government systems. I wish to live for significant tenures in Japan, Tibet, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Vietnam.
I was born and brought up in India. My father served with the Indian Air Force for 20 years. I had a formal education in India and I started my business venture in India. Apart from this, I have motor biked extensively across India, Western Bhutan and I am forever in awe of the beauty of the Himalayas.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Tokyo. It’s arguably the most modern city and it has an ecosystem rich in professional values. I love Japan.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.” Stephen Hawking.
Who inspires you?
Professionally, I am inspired by Steve Jobs and what he has created.
In terms of businesses more relevant to Salad Days, I am inspired by Chipotle for their quality consciousness and robust scale up; by Sweetgreens for their undaunting focus on salads and by Fresh Express for their glorious history of freshness.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
India has emerged on top of the FDI league table.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Balance and prioritize even better.
How do you unwind?
Motorbiking and catching up with good, old friends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Himalayas. Nothing is more serene.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell), Bhagavad Gita
Shameless plug for your business:
www.saladdays.co: Serving handcrafted salads and freshly plucked juices.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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