Becoming an entrepreneur was not what Huda Masood thought about becoming while she was pursuing her masters in stem cell research. However, a government order mandating a ban on the field meant Huda was out of a job. A few brainstorming sessions and feedback from fellow bikers later, the 35-year-old decided to foray making into nutritious breakfast bars.
That was 2012, five years later the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur is making news for her nutritional bars that aim to strike a balance between sustainable farming and a sound business model.
Huda Bars with patrons spreading across seven seas are meant for the days when you don’t want to cook breakfast. Healthy, nutritious and sourced locally, the bars give guilty-free binging a whole new meaning.
Masood, who operates from her own home, operates with a team of four people. What’s more, these bars are made completely manually, which means that a pair of human hands is roasting and hand-pressing every almond or splitting every date that is going into these bars.
The avid biker talks to Woman At Work spelling out why she thinks paratha-sabzi is still a fantastic breakfast idea and her future plans.
Where did you get the idea for Huda Bars?
I got the idea for these bars from my own experiences on days when I didn’t want to cook breakfast after I was rendered jobless after a change in government regulation. I was helping friends with projects and was doing a lot of freelance projects. I would rather save time and do something else – be it spending that time sleeping or wrapping up my work. Even if I skipped breakfast, I would end up having a big meal at 11 am and the only thing I would want to do later is to sleep.
Also, my biker friends took a few of these bars on a trip and came back with rave reviews. It took care of their needs and was healthy.
How easy or difficult is it for you to source everything locally?
We aim to use only organically-grown and local produce. We source most of our ingredients even oatmeal and flaxseeds from local growers. Right now the only thing we import are dates (khajoor).
Do you think these breakfast bars could replace the quintessential Indian breakfast musts like paratha-sabzi or idli sambhar?
I don’t think so and why would you want to give up on paratha-sabzi; it’s a phenomenal meal. These bars are for those days when you don’t feel like cooking. Huda bars enable you to have a choice and ensure that breakfast is no longer a chore or an obligation, especially if you are somebody who doesn’t like to cook.
How do you decide on different flavours?
It’s a combination of experimentation and the kind of feedback we get. Like the classic flavour was our basic bar that was in demand. Then we devised the chocolate flavour for those who wanted some indulgence. We offer vegan bars as well. We later extended our product line to include peanut and almond butter as well, which include unique ingredients like caramelised onions and spices like jeera making them a perfect companion to idlis and dosas.
Your products are shipped within three days of being manufactured. Given the fact that you don’t use any preservatives, isn’t shelf life a problem?
We don’t use any preservatives, so we ensure that our products are shipped within three days after they are packed. Hence, we try to minimise the use of water in our recipes, which reduces chances of bacterial and microbial growth. We believe in strict quality control and try to stay up to date with the best packaging practices.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced while creating a market for these breakfast bars?
I think we have a long way to go to market our product properly. We don’t know how to tell our story. Right now the only feedback I get is via word of mouth.
What are your future plans?
I want people to travel within India without having to worry about food. If they want to spend five days in a jungle, they should know that they are sorted with a stock of Huda bars. If they are travelling by car, they need not make pit stops, as these bars are your go-to-travel food.
Image credit: www.thehudabar.com, The Hindu