6 MBA Grads Who Followed Passion for Food Over Corporate Jobs

MBA graduates

An MBA is often viewed by Indian society as the ultimate degree. So, when an MBA graduate quits a high-paying job to start something unconventional, it does take people by surprise. 

We bring to you five MBA graduates who dared to dream beyond the borders of the degree. 

1. MBA Limbu Pani Wala 

When MBA grad Mohammed Arif Hussain decided to ditch the traditional job route and open a nimbu paani business, he not only took everyone by surprise, but also heard many jibes along the way. 

“Everybody doubted it,” he told Telangana Today. “Things like ‘gharwalon ka naam kharab kare’ (You’re ruining the family name) and ‘bade khandaan se hoke aise kaam’ (Why are you doing such things when you’re from an established family?) were said to me in a discouraging way. But there is no compulsion that if I have an MBA degree, I will have to do a job.”

“I have a degree in business administration, which basically means I learned how to run a business.” And that is exactly what he did. 

His stall in Hyderabad, ‘MBA Limbu Pani Wala’, which opened in February 2021, provides a refreshing break for people with soda nimbu pani, plain nimbu pani, and dry ice nimbu pani and even mocktails. The drinks are sold for Rs 30 to Rs 60, and Mohammed says what sets him apart from other stalls is that his drinks come with a guarantee of hygienic preparation. 

2. MBA Chai Wala 

When Prafull Billore from Madhya Pradesh asked to borrow Rs 8,000 from his father during his MBA days, his dad was taken aback. 

However, Prafull soon proved his business abilities, when his stall ‘Chai Wala’, located outside the IIM Ahmedabad premises, became a roaring success. 

Prafull Billore
Prafull Billore

On its very first day, it saw a profit of Rs 150, and this number has only grown in leaps and bounds through the years. While many were perplexed about this unique startup, Prafull was convinced in his vision. 

Today, his 300 sq ft restaurant ‘MBA Chai Wala’ sees a turnover in crores, recording Rs 3 crore in the financial year 2019-20. 

3. Ram Ki Bandi 

If he wanted, Ram Kumar Shinde could have chosen to not continue his father Lakshman’s pushcart, which had been serving dosas and idlis since 1989. The 35-year-old had completed his MBA in Hyderabad and could have very well pursued a well-paying job. 

But even while looking out for jobs in the corporate sector, he says, “I had a voice telling me that my future would not be stable with the money they would pay me. So I decided to join my father’s business in 2011.” 

Dosas made at Ram ki Bandi
Dosas made at Ram ki Bandi

In the coming years, he even introduced pizzas to the humble menu, and went on to employ 70 people. The venture now caters to over 1,000 customers. 

“People visit the stall not only to taste our food, but also for a unique experience…Even foreigners visiting the city stop at the bandi to taste crispy cheesy dosas. It is always a part of their itinerary. I believe it is our quick service, hot food, a menu of so much variety, and modest prices that keep us close to their hearts,” Ram notes. 

4. ‘What’ A Sandwich’

For Hussain Juzer Lokhandwala, a 33-year-old MBA graduate, it was a simple idea that led him to success —  making good sandwiches available at reasonable prices. However, it wasn’t always this simple. 

As he recounts, it was a difficult choice between joining his family business and starting something on his own. “But,” he says, “I wasn’t afraid of failing and never gave up.”  

Hussain Juzer Lokhandwala
Hussain Juzer Lokhandwala

The success of the venture, which started in Pune in 2013, is reflected in the turnover figures. What started with an initial investment of Rs 1.5 lakh, has grown into a multi-crore empire with 50+ delivery kitchens. 

His ideology was to “introduce a desi equivalent of an international giant in the submarine sandwich space.” 

5. Beyond Snacks 

In 2018, an Alappuzha native Manas Madhu quit the job he had secured post MBA and launched Beyond Snacks, a venture selling banana chips in four different flavours.

The inspiration, he says, came from his parents, who would pack his bag with these chips when he was travelling for work. “If you are travelling from Kerala to another place, “this snack is a must-have,” he says. 

Manas Madhu
Manas Madhu

But he felt there was a lack of outlets that sold authentic banana chips outside of Kerala. “I wanted these to be available all over India.”

It was his zeal and idea that got him into Shark Tank India, where he asked for Rs 50 lakh in return of 2.5 per cent share in equity. Ashneer Grover, co-founder of Bharat Pe, and Aman Gupta, co-founder boAt Lifestyle, came on board. Manas says that thanks to them, the products are available in more than 3,500 outlets in Mumbai and Pune.

6. Chew N Brew – Eat On The Go

Kashmir has found its way into the hearts of many through its landscape and food, both of which travellers say are ‘heavenly’. Sajad Ahmad Bhat (40), an MBA graduate from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth University (BVP), Pune wanted everyone to experience this ‘heavenly’ food, but without paying a high price for it. 

“I wanted to kick start the street food culture in Srinagar,” he told India Times. And so he did, with delicious Kashmiri snacks available at affordable rates. 

“We get 80 delivery orders in a day, while at the van counter we get over 150 orders in a day,” he continues, saying that they are planning to expand the business in the near future and also reach out to schools, colleges, offices and hospitals.

Hyderabad: This ‘MBA Limbu Pani Wala’ means business by Epsita Gunti, Published on 6 June 2022. 
Meals On Wheels: This MBA Is Establishing A Street Food Culture In Kashmir Valley by Idrees Bukhtiyar, Published on 10 April 2022. 

Author: Aaron Ryan