In this episode of Good Business, we speak to female entrepreneur, Anushka Purhoit, about founding Breer, a sustainable beer company.
What were you doing at 23? Anushka Purohit has founded three businesses, won AmCham Hong Kong’s Young Achiever of the Year in 2021 and has been featured in media across the world. She is most well known for Breer, which makes beer out of leftover recycled bread. In this conversation, we discuss how her childhood has shaped her outlook, how she navigates the STEM spaces as a young woman of colour and her passion for making a difference. This is one conversation you cannot miss – she is truly an inspiration.
In this conversation, we learnt…
– Anushka’s motto and upbringing (3:09 – 05:26)
– Her businesses Breer, StayK, and Somme Cosmetics – or side projects, as she likes to call them (06:02 – 08:33)
– Her thoughts on the pandemic and its impact on entrepreneurship (08:49 – 12:49)
– Operations of Breer, the key challenges in the early days and how she overcame them (13:06 – 17:20)
– Anushka’s experiences being a young woman of colour in the STEM field (18:15 – 25:49)
– The benefits of focusing on competitions and awards instead of venture capital funding (26:19- 28:21)
“I am going out there, trying to do crazy things, and embracing that part of my personality, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m giving back in the process.” (4:00)
Anushka has a motto, “Always be MAD”. The first part is just a testament to her personality. Having always been a big fan of over the top ideas and performances, she wanted to embrace that aspect of herself. If she accepts it as a part of herself, no one can judge her for it. But she also realised that having the ability to be “crazy” is also a privilege. So, MAD stands for Making A Difference. Not everybody has the flexibility or even the environment where they can make some crazy decisions, and people applaud them for it. And so she thought that it’s important for her to balance the two.
“I like it when others call you an entrepreneur, as opposed to you calling yourself an entrepreneur because I feel like it’s a title that needs to be earned.” (12:35)
Anushka never grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur, it wasn’t even a career path she’d imagined. Everyone around her talked about being an engineer, lawyer or doctor – the classic careers. This has changed over the years but she feels like the pendulum has flung to the other end. Now, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur – their own boss, to be able to decide their schedule etc. It’s glamorous. But Anushka wants to focus on adding value to society or in her target market. Hence, she believes that entrepreneurship is a title that is earned.
“I just started talking to myself a lot more. I think it’s a very underrated skill.” (16:29)
When asked about being a young entrepreneur and levelling up, Anushka shared how one of her key tips in handling business decisions was talking to herself. Before going to bed, she would envision upcoming conversations and decisions, trying to conceptualise all the angles. She specifically tried to anticipate others’ thinking and goes the extra mile to find a middle ground. Not only did it help her become in tune with herself, but it also improved conversations with her co-founders and partners.
“Everybody’s human, and everybody has some sort of a common experience that you can bond over. It’s about how you get there” (20:10)
One of Anushka’s most memorable experiences was her first meeting with senior management, where she felt like she was walking onto a chopping block. She was only 19, in front of eight senior executives sitting in suits and ties, and talking about beer when she was barely old enough to legally drink. But when she offered that she could speak in Chinese, the entire room’s atmosphere changed. It was a lot more receptive. Since then, Anushka has viewed everyone as human, and therefore aims to meet them where they are.
“Because this is your area, you are the subject matter expert here. So it’s so important to give yourself that credit and feel super confident.”
It’s warranted to feel nervous when taking an exam, as it’s testing your abilities. But when you’re presenting something that you’re passionate about, you should be confident. As a business owner, no one knows more about your business than you. When Anushka walks up onto a stage, she feels this aura of excitement. An “I am going to kill this” sentiment. Because this resonates with the audience, people feel that energy, and will receive you differently.
Chris Edwards (02:45)
Anushka. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Anushka Purohit (02:48)
Of course. Thank you for having me, Chris, super excited to speak to you.
Chris Edwards (02:51)
Oh, me too. Me too. Now, before we get into the nitty gritty, because you truly have accomplished tons, I want to ask you about your motto, always be mad, meaning making a difference. I absolutely love this. How did it come about?
Anushka Purohit (03:09)
So I think the first bit the actual mad is just a testament of my personality. So when I was a kid, or even now, I’m a big fan of all these gregarious, huge over the top kind of performances. And so I just always thought it’s important for me at least to embrace that aspect of me. So I thought if it’s just a part of the way I live, then no one can judge me for it, because I’m so happy in being crazy. But the second part of it is making a difference, but I think came a little later when I realized that having the ability to be that crazy and be that mad is also in some way, a privilege in itself. Not everybody has the, you know, flexibility or even the environment where they can make some crazy decisions, and people applaud them for it instead of laud them for it. And so I thought that it’s important for me to balance the two. So while I am going out there and trying to do crazy things, and embracing that part of my personality, I wanted to make sure at the same time I’m helping those who might not have that ability, and then give back in the process. So making a difference.
Chris Edwards (04:08)
And did this sense of color and freeness that you have did this come from the way you were brought up? What’s given you permission to be this creative?
Anushka Purohit (04:18)
Definitely I would 100% attribute it to the way I’ve grown up. Because sometimes I think about alternate realities and what my life could have been had I been born somewhere else had, I’d been living somewhere else. And I think a very big part of the freedom, the opportunity, the understanding of hustle and struggle came from the fact that my dad and my mom made the decision to leave India, their home country and really get out of their comfort zone move to Hong Kong, and then set up a life for me and my younger sister here. Because for me, you know, growing up here, I would always think about the struggles I had as the one child who didn’t necessarily speak full Chinese, but then wanting to learn Chinese but spoke English and then came back home and spoke Hindi. You know, so a lot of these different cultural aspects that I’m sure a lot other people relate to. But what I didn’t think about is for, say, my dad or my mom, leaving the country that they’ve called home, moving to Hong Kong not knowing much about it at all, not knowing how to speak Chinese being vegetarian, coming here, setting everything up from scratch, and then doing it to the level where I was able to grow up here and call Hong Kong my home. So I would 100% attribute it to the fact that I’m so lucky to be able to call Hong Kong my home and adapt to the surroundings that I was given.
Chris Edwards (05:26)
Wow, so interesting to kind of break down. I suppose that experience that you’ve had, from a really young age seeing your parents just rewrite the rulebook? And that kind of gives you permission to question everything and rewrite your own rulebook. And you 22 Now, is that right?
Anushka Purohit (05:44)
I just turned 23, like 11 days ago?
Chris Edwards (05:47)
Oh, well, happy birthday.
Anushka Purohit (05:49)
Chris Edwards (05:49)
I mean, that’s in my notes. But I was like, Really, you’re 23. And you are a true serial entrepreneur, maybe you can share with the listeners a little bit about all your different businesses and what you’re doing.
Anushka Purohit (06:02)
Sure. So I always actually refrain from calling them businesses, because I think there’s so much of a hype around that word. And everyone likes seeing it so much. For me, they’re truly just at the core of it – projects that I feel very passionate about. So probably the one that is the most, you know, people know about the most is Breer. So I’m the CEO and co-founder of Breer, which is a food upcycling startup where we collect surplus bread from bakeries and restaurants, and use it to brew local craft beer. So that was kind of our way of bringing sustainability to the alcohol industry, which unfortunately didn’t really exist before. And through my pursuit of breer, I actually realised that unfortunately, bread isn’t the only source of food wastage. And you have all these flowers that are going to waste fruit peels going to waste, there’s this very significant bigger portion of the wastage that is being contributed every day. And so I actually started somme cosmetics with my mom to collect all of these flowers and fruit peels from temples and bakeries respectively, and then use them to create sustainable skincare items. So you can imagine we collected an orange peel tub from a bakery that use oranges to decorate their cakes, and then used that to create a face pack. So that was something I’m doing. And then the other few I would say are just really fun projects, I was involved with StayK , which is an activities marketplace. So during COVID, everybody was talking about how they wanted to travel the world. And they wanted to go here to do that and go there to do this. But what a lot of people don’t realise is there are a lot of these crazy activities that you can get right here in Hong Kong, but no one knows about them. And because the businesses were struggling, and this was their bread and butter pun intended, it was important that we were able to give them an outlay for people to know about these activities and be a part.
Chris Edwards (07:40)
Ah, so cool. And how do you split your time? What does a week look like for you?
Anushka Purohit (07:47)
Oh, that’s a tough question. I think my Google Calendar will probably answer this question best. But it really depends. I think the beauty about the kind of life that I’m living in, what I love about it most is that it’s so spontaneous. And I personally love spontaneity. So, for example, you’ll wake up the morning and you won’t really have anything planned. And then suddenly, you’ll see oh, there are these networking events at like 5pm that might be really good to go to, and then you just go. So it really depends. But I would say the day before that I would rather the night before I kind of just look through my calendar and understand, okay, this is what I need to do tomorrow and just have my head set in that mindset. And then, yeah, take one day at a time. But one thing that I do try to keep a constant now especially is I don’t miss a workout any day, because I think that’s what helps keep me grounded and makes me even more excited to do things.
Chris Edwards (08:33)
I love that. And tell me Hong Kong’s had a pretty rough ride through the COVID period. I mean, we’ve really only just coming out of COVID now and the rest of the world’s been out for you know, a year and a half. How has that impacted your businesses.
Anushka Purohit (08:49)
It’s crazy because a lot of this change in my life came because of the pandemic. I honestly don’t think that I would have been sitting here talking to you about anything that you know I’ve done or that I’ve been involved with, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, because truly Breer started at the onset of the pandemic, we realized we wanted to do this just before the pandemic set in. And I was actually in the US at the time. So I flew back to Hong Kong and kind of the first thing I was doing was navigating this new normal and trying to find partners to work with. And I think it gave me personally a lot of downtime where there wasn’t this expectation of being everywhere physically all the time, in my case university so I was still attending class, but I didn’t have to be on campus 9am In the morning till 5pm Instead, you know if I had say two hours where I would have normally spent traveling to and from university now I could spend those two hours doing something else I enjoyed. So I think for me, it gave me a lot of flexibility and I’m actually very grateful that as hard as that time was it came and it went because it gave a lot of people in Hong Kong this idea that there’s something beyond our traditional nine to five work hours sitting at your desk all the time. There is this concept of working on the go working from home you know really taking your time and understanding where can I make the most value out of it. And I think that helped me the most. So I would say as hard as it was, and of course, business was difficult, it was really a time to just test everything, test all your abilities, test your adaptability, and just test whether what you’re doing is truly something you love. And you’re passionate about.
Chris Edwards (10:19)
That’s refreshing. And I love how you can see such a positive impact that I suppose COVID just shook up the way we did things. And it gave us again, that permission to do things differently. Tell me Were you always going to be an entrepreneur? What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Anushka Purohit (10:39)
Oh, I was never going to be an entrepreneur. If you asked me, maybe 5-6 years ago, I this was never in my little career path. I’d never imagined it. Also, because I think, you know, unfortunately, at least early on in my generation for a very long time. Entrepreneurship just didn’t seem like a career option. Again, everybody would talk about the engineer, but the lawyer but the doctor, you know, these very classic careers that we have created. But no one really said, oh, I want to grow up and be an entrepreneur, I think today, that’s changed a lot. I feel like the youth are very much opening up to this concept, whether it’s from reality shows like Shark Tank, or whether it’s for movies being made about this concept of you know, being your own boss and hustling. But I think at least when I was growing up, it was just not really an option I just didn’t even know. And I always say I feel like I accidentally stumbled into this world. Because even when we started Breer, and frankly, I would say even a year into Breer, I still didn’t consider Breer business, it was for me still something that I just had so much fun doing. Again, it was like a side project for me. And it was until I realised that there are people paying their hard earned money to buy this product that I was like, Okay, I need to change my mindset. And now this is a business because I’m accountable to people. And it’s important that I do all the responsibilities I’ve taken up to the best ability of me know my possibility, because people are counting on it. And there’s actual impact being made. So yeah, it was all you know, a chance encounter. And now I’m very open to it, I still, again, don’t really call it entrepreneurship, because I think also, you know, you’re walking on a slippery slope in my generation, the word entrepreneurship is also a little bit over glorious. Now, everybody’s like, Oh, I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to be my own boss, I want to be able to decide my own schedule. But no one really thinks about whether what they’re doing is actually adding any value in society or in their target market, you know, as a whole. It’s just, I think, now become a little bit about, hey, it’s one extra thing for me to talk about. And I get to tag myself as an entrepreneur. So I think it’s a little bit of a tricky situation, which is why I tried to stay away from this word entrepreneurship. I actually really like it when others call you an entrepreneur, as opposed to you calling yourself an entrepreneur, because I feel like it’s a title that needs to be earned.
Chris Edwards (12:49)
I love that. I love that. And I think you raise a really valid point about the label and that people want that label for status as opposed to, is it actually what you’re doing? So how big is Breer? Now? How many staff have you got,
Anushka Purohit (13:06)
We have pretty much no staff. So we started off as a team of four co-founders. And now we’re kind of in the process where it’s more or less going to be a team of two co-founders leading the way. And we kind of just have ad hoc people join the movement where and as we can. So we have a volunteering system called the Breer runner program where we have 4000 active volunteers. So at any given point in time, if we need to collect any bread or drop it off, then we have this volunteer system to depend on. But again, they’re not really staff. They’re just people who want to make a difference and have some extra time. So they’ll help us out. But other than that, yeah, it’s really just the two of us. And we’re really trying to build this team into something bigger and better. But I think another you know, thing that I’ve learned in this experience is it’s very hard to find the right people to trust and rely on and especially find the people with the same amount of passion as you because yes, they might feel a certain way about one part of the business, but their heart might not be there for other parts of the business. And I think that detracts from what people will look at you as a company in light that they’ll see you. And so it’s been tough. So literally, as we speak last night, my co founder and I were at my house chroming bread, literally, I think it was like 18 bags of eight kilograms of bread each just crumbing it and then coffee grounds. And then we got it sent over to the brewery. So yeah, it’s a lot of grunt work that we have to put in ourselves to.
Chris Edwards (14:26)
Yeah, wow. And how are you selling the product?
Anushka Purohit (14:29)
So we actually sell in a lot of these bars and bottle shops and restaurants around Hong Kong, there are a few notable ones were in craft his MO when hands the craft beer bar, but we also did a very cool collaboration with Maxim’s group, which is Hong Kong’s largest and oldest bread manufacturer. And they also happen to be a pretty much a very big Restaurant Group. So we did a collaboration with them called BOB bottle of bread, and that’s selling in over 200 of their outlets as well.
Chris Edwards (14:55)
That’s awesome. Congratulations.
Anushka Purohit (14:58)
Chris Edwards (14:59)
And so What’s been the hardest thing about Breer, besides the people piece, I mean, it sounds quite remarkable what you’ve created. Tell us some of the pain points that you’ve had through the journey
Anushka Purohit (15:10)
took for me personally, I would say mentality has been a big thing, just because like I, you know, aforementioned, I think I just never really expected that there would be this time in my life where I would be working on something that I feel so passionate about, and I would be accountable to so many other people. And when I began my career, it was with three of my closest friends at the time, really, no strings attached, no expectations of what’s going to happen. It was just let’s just do this fun, social innovation competition and see what happens. And I think because it eventually evolved into us having almost clearly defined roles within the business and us having to make, you know, quote, unquote, executive decisions about Breer, there was a time where I had to step back, and now put my friendships aside and almost treat these conversations as I don’t know these people. And we’re just here, because we have the sole motivation, which is Breer. So for me, that was very tough, because I went from, you know, always wanting to be in the best position with all of my friends, to sometimes having to say, hey, I don’t necessarily agree with what you’re saying, I personally believe this is, you know, the better way forward. Let’s discuss this, as opposed to always being the happy go lucky person who’s like, yes, yes, yes, let’s do everything. So I think for me, that was very difficult, because it’s just not a position I’ve been in. And it was a very, very new situation to face. But I’d like to think that I’ve overcome it now.
Chris Edwards (16:25)
And how did you levelled up? How did you learn the skills that you needed?
Anushka Purohit (16:29)
I think I just started talking to myself a lot more. And I say this a lot. I think it’s a very underrated skill. But I think individuals should just really connect with themselves a little more, and there’s no harm and just seriously having a one on one conversation with yourself. So I remember, whenever I was, in those moments, the night after, and the night before, when I was sleeping, I would ask myself, like, okay, so this is what I want to say. And I know, this is what this person is going to think. And I know, this is what this person’s thinking. So how can I go the extra mile and find the middle ground and propose that all together, as opposed to wait and see, you know, where we can find mutual space. So I think it was just being in tune with myself and being, you know, almost confident in myself that everything I’m saying is 100%, because I want this to go forward. And because I have a bigger goal for this, not for any other reason that it might come across as to anybody else. And just being 100% honest with myself.
Chris Edwards (17:20)
Hmm, I love that. That’s a really lovely little tip. But obviously you’re doing the work, you’re doing the work thinking through putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and, and every time you have one of those conversations, I suppose is like a muscle you just get stronger and better. Lovely.
Chris Edwards (17:37)
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Chris Edwards (18:01)
One thing you’ve been very vocal about is how your identity, especially as a young woman, impacts potential partners and vendors. How do you navigate the traditional male dominated STEM world?
Anushka Purohit (18:15)
Oh, yeah, it’s a crazy uphill battle, I think. And I don’t think I realised, for me personally, I think it’s less about the fact that I’m female. And it’s a little more about the fact that I’m comparatively younger, I don’t necessarily look like every other Hong Kong or here, but I can still speak the language and identify as a Hong Kong, I think sometimes it’s a little confusing for people to see this triangle that I associate myself with. Because when you first speak to me, you probably won’t be able to guess that I can speak to you in Chinese and it’ll be a comfortable conversation. So a lot of times people will approach the conversation with a lot of apprehension or a lot of hesitation. And they just don’t even want to take it forward in the first place. So difficulty I face is there’s only so much you can do you know, through an email, or even a cold call. For me face to face kind of interaction time is super, super important. And sometimes it’s the hardest part is getting there. So it’s been tough. But I think, you know, the way to make a stand for it and make it a little more of the norm is just by you pushing through and being okay with that change. So I remember one of the first meetings that I had with senior management for a company that we now work with, was in their office and I was, you know, super prepared. And I’d spent the whole day and knew all my numbers. I knew everything I needed to talk about there was nothing they could have asked me about Breer that I didn’t know. And I went into the room. And I remember opening up the door to like eight senior executives sitting in suits and ties and almost ready to it was like willfully walking onto a chopping block. And I just opened the door and I was like, oh wow. And here I am and at the time I was 19 walking into a room trying to sell a beer business that I barely was legal to drink myself at that time. And, you know, I couldn’t show it on my face. But in my head I said it doesn’t matter because I’m here to represent Breer and nobody in this room will know better than I do. And so I walked into that room and we had the conversation. And one of the first questions they asked me was in English, and then I could figure out that there were certain people who were taking charge and asking questions and certain who weren’t. And so I offered and I said, Actually, I speak Chinese, if you want, we can do this whole conversation and Chinese. And suddenly the entire room’s atmosphere changed. Everybody was so open. They were like, what, why do you know how to speak Chinese. And I was like, I’ve grown up here. I went to school here. And they asked me what school I went to, because there’s kids were studying in Hong Kong, they asked me what it was like to study in the local and international school system. So I think it’s just important to realize that at the end of the day, everybody’s human, and everybody has some sort of a common experience that you can bond over. It’s about how did you get there. And oftentimes, that bit is honestly the hardest, it’s about overcoming that first hill that will make the most, you know, impact and make it the most difficult. But once that’s done, I personally believe it’s all smooth sailing from there.
Chris Edwards (20:54)
Yeah, and I love that story. And what strikes me is how it is easier to form that human connection when you’re in the same room. And one of the challenges we have today is that so many meetings happen like this podcast where it’s virtual, and it is a little bit more difficult to, to have that human connection. So that’s a great story. And, yeah, I really get a sense of who you are with that story as well. And that self talk, you know that what you’re telling yourself to make yourself feel more confident, and you are 100%? Right, you do know your business better than anyone else. So why would you feel nervous? You know, like, you’ve got this? Yeah, I love that.
Anushka Purohit (21:35)
Exactly. I think yeah, one of the differences is, you know, when you’re in school, and you’re going to give an exam, I feel it’s justified to be nervous, because this is an entire subject, right, and you might be interested in it, you might not be interested in it. So you never really know, which is why it’s warranted to feel nervous, because it is an exam that is testing your abilities. But when people say that they’re nervous about public speaking, or they’re nervous about meetings, I always wonder if whatever they’re representing is something they truly feel passionate about. Because if you did, then you should be so confident in it. Because this is your area, you are the subject matter expert here, there’s no one in that room that can look at you or laugh at you or you know, say that you said something wrong, because you know everything, and you’ve done all that research. So it’s so important to give yourself that credit, and not feel nervous, and instead feel super confident. Like when you walk up on stage, you should feel this aura of excitement. And I know I’m going to kill this kind of sentiment coming out of you. And I promise you, it resonates in the audience, people feel that energy, and just the way they receive what you’re going to say is going to be different. So that’s something I feel very passionate about, too.
Chris Edwards (22:38)
Ah, I love that 100% agree. And I definitely love your point about the audience feels that energy. So that’s so right. You’re also a woman of colour, does that impact you as well? Or do you feel like it doesn’t really matter?
Anushka Purohit (22:53)
I think unfortunately, it does, probably more than the fact that I’m a woman period. I think the fact that I’m a woman of colour makes a little bit more of difference. Interestingly enough for Breer, our entire founding team is of colour. Same for StayK actually. And so because medics as well, because it’s me and my mom. So I think by coincidence, and I just realized this, as I said this, but everything that I’m doing is pretty much led by teams where we’re all you know, not necessarily of the colour that one expects to be in Hong Kong. But I think part of it also comes with challenging that notion. Because truly Hong Kong is home for me, if anyone asked me, you know, where I’m from, when I’m elsewhere in the world, I always say Hong Kong, even though it’s pretty clear that I’m Indian. But Hong Kong is where I’ve gotten so much of my exposure and so much of my opportunity. So I think it’s almost a little unfair for people to just be able to see me and say, No, you don’t look like a Hong Kong or because what does a Hong Kong look like? Right? So I think that was a little bit tough to navigate for me, but I never really let it get to me because in my head, I know I’m a Hong Kong or you can speak to me in Chinese, I’ll respond, you can ask me anything about Hong Kong. And I will know, you know, I am in tune with the city that I call home. So there’s no reason for me to be afraid of it. But I do remember this one episode where we’d actually done when I say we I was representing Breer and I did a Chinese interview. And this was a TV broadcast that was actually, you know, targeted to the Greater Bay Area audience, which meant it’s not just Hong Kong, but it’s a little bit more, it’s a little bit more of China. And the interview went live. And I was a little nervous because it was an interview in a language that is not my first language, it was in Cantonese. And sometimes, you know, of course, I can have a human conversation with you. But when you’re talking business, there’s certain terms you need to know the certain jargon you need to know. So that always gets me a little because I’m very new to this whole business aspect of talking in Chinese. And so I did the interview and you know, in terms of reactions, and likes and shares, everything was really great. But when you were reading through the comments, and I was doing this with my co-founders, there were a few comments that were like what language is she even speaking who speaks is Chinese in China and no one understands this, etc, etc, etc. And my friends are asking me because they don’t have the context they would like why are they understanding your Chinese? And it’s because in China You know, there’s so many variations of Chinese and Cantonese is a very, you know, Hong Kong centric or this Guangdong Province centric language. And so if people aren’t from that part of China, chances are they just won’t understand it. And I remember reading a lot of these comments like, since when there’s a brown girl, being able to speak in Chinese, you know, constitutes being a Hong Kong or that kind of thing. And so it made me realize that it’s fine. Of course, people are gonna say that, but at least now someone in China knows that there’s this one Indian girl in Hong Kong, who speaks Cantonese, and calls herself a Hong Konger and what she’s doing is reducing food waste, right? So for me, the point got, you know, got carried across, but it was just so interesting to me, because I think it’s a true summary of what social media in our time today is, there’s always gonna be someone out there, who’s gonna find that one thing that you didn’t think of, and then talk about it on and on.
Chris Edwards (25:49)
Oh, I love that. I love that. Yeah, 100%. And there is always going to be that one person that finds something, you were recently on a panel at Launchpad. And we loved what you said about being picky with funding, and instead of focusing on competitions, and awards, and you’ve won a lot of awards that have helped you get started with your business. I’ve got a list of all the awards here. But can you just talk more about why you chose the competition route over the funding route,
Anushka Purohit (26:19)
I think it was also a chance encounter. But basically, the reason why Breer began was through a competition, it was a social innovation competition that me and my friends wanted to join. And we just thought, okay, might as well use this way to try to solve something that I feel super passionate about, which is food wastage. So it all started there. That’s how the research happened. That’s how kind of the first steps for Breer started rolling out. And in fact, the only reason we were able to do our first batch of brewing is because we ended up winning that competition, and we got 10,000 Hong Kong dollars, I think 10,000 Hong Kong dollars to actually be able to try it out. And so in that time, again, I’m very glad we did. But it was a very easy decision for us to split the money four ways and then just have a dinner that probably no one would remember six years down the line. But I’m glad we didn’t do that. And instead, we kept the 10,000. And we decided, let’s try and see if this bread actually does turn into beer. And we went from there. And that gave us a prototype. And then that gave us kind of this foundation to then pitch and more competitions. And I think in Hong Kong and Singapore, these are two areas where the government is so supportive of innovation and technology and startups, that there are so many competitions out there that will give you grant money without taking any of your equity. And if you watch Shark Tank, or if you’re a startup or serial entrepreneur, you know yourself, you will know that equity is very, very valuable, and everyone fights for every last 0.1%. And so if you’re getting these competitions that give you exposure, that give you mentors, and give you the chance to win a significant amount of money only for effort that you’re putting in, I always feel like that’s so much of a better route to take than to go knocking door to door and looking for a potential investor or, you know, a VC firm to back. And while that may be right, I think in that process, it’s almost easier to fall into the trap of who’s giving me more money for less of my equity, as opposed to who can add more value into my business for me. And because it’s just such a sticky trap. I just like to avoid that at least for as long as I can not say we’re not interested in strategic investment. We definitely are. But it’s about the right person or the right agency at the right time.
Chris Edwards (28:21)
Yeah, perfect. And I think you’re right, I think there’s so much talk about funding that people do kind of get, I suppose their blinkers on about other ways to raise money that doesn’t cost you equity. And I think 100% If you can be independent and Bootstrap for as long as possible. I think that’s really valuable as well. Tell me more about some cosmetics, like where’s that business at? And what’s the big challenge you have in front of you for that business?
Anushka Purohit (28:48)
Yeah, so it’s a very, very New Baby of mine and very excited about it. We did a little booth at Discovery Bay in Hong Kong, and the reception was really good. We had like 8 baby products that we were trying to just test the market with. And everyone was super excited. They liked the fact that it’s genuinely 100% sustainable, and the products were enjoyed. I think we sold out of six of the eight products that we went with, which for me was good reception to say, Okay, let’s continue doing this. So the challenge, which is where I’m stuck right now is basically being able to have enough products where the quality is there, but not deadstock inventory. And I think it’s difficult to find manufacturers who actually care about your movement. So I’ve spoken to manufacturers who have given, you know, my kind of look of somme cosmetics too, and they’re like, okay, but can I just do like an apple cream and just pretend came from the apples that you gave me? And I’m like, no, because I actually want you to use the apples that I gave you, that kind of thing. So sometimes it’s about businesses trying to make that money cutting corners. And because I don’t want to do that, it’s a little harder to be able to vet these manufacturers and like you said Hong Kong is only just opened up in terms of travel. So I didn’t really have the opportunity to get out myself and go there and see how these different companies operate. And so hopefully in 2023 I’ll be able to do that more We’ll be able to scale it up. And the goal is to have it almost launched simultaneously in India and Hong Kong, and then see how that goes.
Chris Edwards (30:07)
Cool. That sounds very exciting and a nice challenge. And I can imagine now that you can travel that will help with that business a lot. You sound incredibly busy. I’m wondering if you could crystal ball gaze? What’s your goal for the next five years?
Anushka Purohit (30:23)
No, I love this question. I’m a huge manifestation person, as if it wasn’t clear already in this conversation. So I really like talking things out into the world and almost hoping of keeping my fingers crossed, it’ll eventually happen. So my goal is actually for breer, to really scale up its impact. So today, we’ve contributed to saving around 15,000 kilograms of bread. And my goal is to hopefully double that number, at least by the five years that we’re talking about. The goal is definitely to have somme cosmetics pickup and have it be, you know, another avenue that people know about where people are able to purchase their skincare products and know that it genuinely is sustainable, not just vegan, and not just cruelty free, and all of the little tag buzzwords that come with any and every cosmetics brand today. And I think for me personally, it’s just to grow to a level where I don’t shy away from opportunities where I know I can make an impact, and just be in a position to be able to say yes to as many things that I feel passionate about. So I think that’s where I want to be.
Chris Edwards (31:20)
I love it. Okay, well, I could ask you 1000 More questions. It’s really your energy is so delightful, and inspiring. But I want to round out our interview with a few rapid fire questions. Firstly, what does community mean to you and your business?
Anushka Purohit (31:37)
Chris Edwards (31:38)
Oh, I love that change is The only constant in business. What do you think entrepreneurs have Their Eyes Wide Shut about right now?
Anushka Purohit (31:47)
That change is uncomfortable, but it’s the uncomfortable that you need?
Chris Edwards (31:51)
Oh, yeah. I love that. Okay, great. If you could take on another industry. Is there another industry that you’d like to disrupt?
Anushka Purohit (32:00)
Whoo, I actually want to disrupt tech, especially being a woman in tech. I feel very passionate about technology. And I think there’s a lot of crazy stuff going out there in the world. And I want to do something about it and almost put women in tech on the map.
Chris Edwards (32:13)
Oh, I love that. And I think you should get connected to the untamed community. If you haven’t already, great women lead web three community that you would really dig who are members of Launchpad, what is your best business collaboration or partnership? As of
Anushka Purohit (32:29)
now? I would say Maxim’s are so grateful. And we’re so excited about the impact we’ve been able to make through it.
Chris Edwards (32:34)
Oh, that’s a really good big one, too, right? Do you have a favorite business book or podcast?
Anushka Purohit (32:40)
This one’s tough, because I don’t really listen to business books or podcasts. But if you’re asking me of my favorite podcasts, I listened to The Wall Street Journal news, Roundup podcasts a lot. And I really liked that, because it’s very straight to the point tells you what’s happening in the world, what you need to know, what you could potentially do about it, period.
Chris Edwards (32:58)
Yeah, that sounds great. Finally, at Launchpad, we believe a rising tide floats all boats. And you probably know a ton of entrepreneurs creating good businesses. But if there was one, that you could tap on the shoulder and invite onto this podcast, who would it be?
Anushka Purohit (33:14)
It would be a fellow female entrepreneur who’s also in the food waste space, Carla of Chomp. So she’s incredible. She’s a really good friend. But at the same time, she’s working very, very hard to also eliminate a lot of food waste in a different manner, though. So I mean, I’m probably stealing her thunder. But basically, what Chomp does is it’s a food saving app, where at the end of the day, a lot of these businesses can list out items that they saw potentially weren’t going to be sold, and then listed at a discount. So people like you and I, who might be craving and just didn’t know can go and get it an insane steal of a deal. So I think she’s doing great work, and I really think go enjoy speaking to her.
Chris Edwards (33:50)
Oh, I love that business idea. Yes, Carla. I would love to interview you. So if you’re listening, reach out. I just got it’s been an absolute delight. Thank you for your time and your honesty and for sharing your, the way your inner world works. It’s been really enlightening. So thank you.
Anushka Purohit (34:07)
Thank you, Chris. And amazing work that you’re doing always thank you for creating this community that we feel like is our second home Launchpad, and really creating a launchpad for us all to make bigger impact.
Chris Edwards (34:20)
Anushka Purohit (34:21)