Name: Sadhana Raj
Birthplace: Vellore, India
Q & A
What is your distinctive idea?
24 Carrots uses organic or locally grown ingredients to create delectable and healthful drinks and dishes with an emphasis on seasonal fruits and vegetables. We are committed to supporting small, local farmers who share our vision of providing affordable delicious and nutritious treats through environmentally sound and ecologically responsible means. Drink Pure, Eat Pure, Live Pure!
What inspired your entrepreneurial idea?
I was working at a well-known juice franchise inside the Student Recreation Complex at ASU and was appalled at what was being put into the smoothies in the name of health- excessive sugar, sorbet/ice cream, canned fruit and boosts that were well passed their expiration date. My frustration mounted as I realized that while their customers were trying to make healthful choices, the more they drank those smoothies, the further they would be from their goals. I understood that there was a serious need for a healthy and tasty snacking alternative, one that was genuinely nutritious as well as delicious and so 24 Carrots was born.
What made you take the leap of faith and take the risk of starting something on your own? Did you always imagine yourself as being an entrepreneur or did you surprise yourself?
My family played a huge role in giving me that final push to open 24 Carrots. I remember sitting in P.F. Changs for lunch, and my uncle asked me what I wanted to do with my life and for some reason I said that I wanted to start a juice bar, to which he responded “well, why don't you?” That got me thinking, why not? Having no formal culinary or business background, I never thought one day I'd own a restaurant…but now, 2 years later, I really can't imagine doing anything else.
How did you overcome your fears; if you don't mind sharing, what were those fears?
When I first started talking about 24 Carrots, I didn't have a clue about running a business. Everything was new, and everything was terrifying! I had an incredible support system around me of people who had been there and done that and that gave me courage. Still, I spent many sleepless nights wondering what I had gotten myself into and how I'd get through the next day. I think what really helped me overcome those fears was time. At the end of each day, after I realized that I had in fact gotten through it, the next day wasn't so scary anymore.
What management tactics do you have incorporated into your business style?
I like to encourage our team to put their own stamp on 24 Carrots by taking up pet projects that let them develop their own talents. Our employees are involved in everything from recipe development to organizing music and open-mike nights. Even our webpage was designed by one of our staff, and as a result she's developed a side business of her own promoting her graphic art. I feel like this helps them understand the passion I have for 24 Carrots and gives them a sense of responsibility for the company as well.
What characteristic of your own personality has been your strongest asset in being successful with this endeavor?
I love food. Shopping for it, cooking it... eating it. That and I LOVE talking to people!
How long did you mull over, think, plan before you shared and went public with your business venture? What was your work schedule like during this process? How did you determine you were ready to move to the next step?
I worked on 24 Carrots for 3 years before my cousin, Shyam, joined me to make it a reality. In that time, I worked 3 jobs and was a full time student as well- life was so hectic! I would take vacation time from work to have meetings about the business and spent all of my free time working on juice recipes or sitting in café's and juice bars compiling market research. I would set up sampling stations in office break rooms, inside my classes, friends' parties, and outside Gammage Auditorium where I worked to get feedback. The more I practiced the more positive feedback I got, and after I had compiled my first 10 recipes I felt confident that I was ready.
If you only could use five words to describe your idea, business... what would those be?
Natural, Pure, Earth-friendly, Nutritious and Deeeeeeeeelicious!
What is your definition of success? How do you plan to succeed?
Right now, I'm living the dream - I wake up each morning thrilled and excited to go to work. I've never felt so connected with the community around me or so committed and impassioned about my career path. Honestly, it's hard to imagine that life could get even better than this, but if I had to define success, I'd love to see 24 Carrots outgrow me and become a representative socially, environmentally and nutritionally conscious company that is fueled by the vision of the community it serves. As a step in the right direction, we are currently working towards school and industry programs to promote earth consciousness, sustainable farming practices and the importance of sound nutritional choices. The biggest measure of success for 24 Carrots would be an opportunity to give back as generously to the community who has been so supportive of us and our dream.
Can you provide an anecdote of your happiest moment as an entrepreneur?
Actually, I live it everyday - several times a day in fact. Every time a customer takes a sip, bite, or nibble of one of our dishes I find myself holding my breath slightly, waiting to see if they are enjoying it. When I see them smile, it makes me do so as well! :) It a small way seeing that makes me feel like despite having started with minimal business and culinary experience, that I am doing what I've always been meant to do.
For more information about 24 Carrots, visit: www.24CarrotsJuice.com or search for it on Facebook.