Young Entrepreneur: Ooshma Garg

Move over takeout: There’s a new game in town, and it’s homemade. Gobble, the gastro child of 24-year-old entrepreneur Ooshma Garg, provides nourishing meals to students and professionals who are too busy to cook but want real food. For those who know how to whip up chicken tikka masala, enchiladas, beef tibs, and other authentic culinary delights, the enterprise allows folks from all walks to earn some regular income from their own kitchens.

“Gobble is my ‘soulmate’ company,” says Garg, who was deeply nourished in body and spirit by the meals her Indian father made when she was a child growing up in Texas. “The whole thing has been magical, which is what happens when you align your own interests with
a true need.”

Things fell into place rapidly for Garg in 2010, when she was three years into ramping up another company, Anapata, which matched job-seeking law students of diverse backgrounds with potential employers. “I was in the car at 1 a.m. after a long day, eating Chicken McNuggets in the parking lot and watching another startup CEO doing the same thing. I thought: there has to be a better way.” Putting an ad on Craigslist to see who could make a meal for no more than $8, the frantically busy startup exec received 70 replies and set up tasting interviews. “I realized there was a huge supply of people wanting to make a living through cooking—immigrants and others who may know just one type of food but do it well­—and I knew there was a huge market for their services.”

While continuing to develop Anapata, Garg began matching up cooks with her own friends, running an ad hoc food service business “with a piece of paper and a cell phone,” she laughs. But at the end of 2010, she got serious, garnering what has become a total of $1.5 million from investors, and selling Anapata to LawWerx to focus on Gobble full time. She hired six employees, amassed 40 “chefs,” and created a friendly website where people in the peninsula area of the San Francisco Bay Area can order tasty, affordable meals. Chefs bring their dishes to hubs where drivers wait, and voilà—door-to-door service. More than a third of Gobble’s hundreds of customers are weekly regulars. And Garg has plans to expand to New York, Chicago, Seattle, and other major cities.

“Don’t be daunted by the idea of starting a company,” advises Garg, who earned a biomechanical engineering degree from Stanford. “Don’t worry about how you’re going to mass-produce something or get your infrastructure going. Start small with quick experiments that test your idea, and keep going until you find a model that a few people use and hopefully purchase. That first step is the most important one.” dw

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