During the COVID-19 lockdown, while many of us were experimenting with online recipes, three innovative women transformed their love for cooking into a business that eventually emerged as the brand for the best hot sauces in India.
Meet Dikshita Sharma, Ojasvi Sharma, and their mother, Hema Sharma – the dynamic trio behind Chilzo, a Mumbai-based startup offering a worldwide delectable range of authentic sauces and condiments.
The Birth of Chilzo: A Happy Accident in the Lockdown
The story of the Chilzo founders is of passion, perseverance, and culinary exploration. Dikshita Sharma, who had worked with food companies abroad, was missing the diverse cuisines she had tasted while traveling. Back in India during the lockdown, she, with her sister Ojasvi and mother Hema, started experimenting with different sauces to satisfy their cravings.
Dikshita Sharma, Chilzo’s co-founder, “The birth of Chilzo was not a planned venture. But a happy accident was born out of the lockdown. Our family found solace in cooking together during those tough times, which sparked a passion for creating something unique. The R&D for our sauces began during the lockdown, and by January 2022, Chilzo was ready to take on the world! Dea Sharma – the Managing Director- was happily working a different job until the Chilzo frenzy took over, and she quickly switched careers. What a thrilling ride it has been!”
Authenticity and Quality: The Pillars of Chilzo’s Success
What sets the flavors of Chilzo apart from the competition is its unwavering commitment to authenticity and quality. Dikshita’s first-hand experiences with different cuisines during her travels allowed her to bring back authentic recipes for the sauces. The brand ensures that each sauce is cooked using traditional methods and specific ingredients sourced from the regions they originate from.
Their Italian sauces are slow-cooked for hours, just like the ones in Italy, and do not contain any added water or sugar, making them diabetic-friendly. The Schezwan sauce uses genuine Sichuan peppercorns imported from China, and their Pesto is made using hand-chopped herbs, crushed pine nuts, and nutty Parmesan cheese. From the fiery Red Harissa of Morocco to the mouth-watering Italian Marinara, Chilzo was on a mission to bring authentic flavors to Indian households.
The trio took their time in the development phase, fine-tuning the recipes with the help of food consultants to ensure the sauces’ shelf life and preserve their authentic tastes. Today, Chilzo’s portfolio consists of 11 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) across four categories – Italian, African, Mexican, and Chinese.
Empowering Women and Giving Back to Society
Beyond their culinary finesse, Chilzo stands as a testament to the prowess of women entrepreneurs. Not only does the brand employ many women in its production process, but it also contributes a portion of every purchase to its Women Relief Fund. This initiative empowers vulnerable women, showcasing Chilzo’s sustainability and social responsibility commitment.
Scaling New Heights and Exploring New Horizons
The founders established a factory in Vasai in October 2021 with an initial investment of INR 40 lakh from family and bank funding. The commercial operations began in January 2022. In FY23, the business made a turnover of INR 1.2 crore.
Chilzo has quickly gained momentum and caters to around 7,000 monthly customers across Delhi, Mumbai, and other cities. The founders have ambitious plans for the brand’s future, with 26 new products set to launch within a year. They also want to diversify their product line beyond sauces and condiments and explore lesser-known cuisines in India, such as Argentinian and Spanish.
Chilzo is already available in over 80 stores across Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata, as well as on Amazon, Flipkart, and Bigbasket. They have their sights set on the UAE market and are in discussions with distributors and exporters. Moreover, Chilzo’s future plans aim to create HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafes) packs while exploring the potential of exporting their products to Europe, UAE, and North America.
The inspiring story of Chilzo’s evolution from a kitchen experiment to a prominent hot sauce brand entails the spirit of innovation. Their commitment to empowering women and contributing to social welfare adds an admirable layer of purpose to their entrepreneurial journey. Chilzo’s growth trajectory reflects the dynamic potential of passionate endeavors.
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