May 17, 2018 Hospitality/food

Vegan baked goods.

Pushkar Gogia was working in a demanding senior management position when he decided to take a year-long sabbatical. He lived in an Ashram, using the time to study and take a thorough look at his work and his life. Among the changes he made, Pushkar whole-heartedly embraced veganism and was keen to promote its benefits to others. This, and his new-found conviction of not wanting to go back and ‘work for someone else’ gave him the courage to start his new business, Mahadeva’s Kitchen – a gourmet, vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, wholesale vegan foods bakery in Maidstone in Melbourne’s West.

An early challenge for Pushkar was establishing a product range that would appeal to a broad market, not just a vegan audience. Pushkar’s training at William Angliss in Hospitality and strong support from friends and chefs, all contributed to the delicious selection of sweets he offers today. 

Mahadeva’s Kitchen specialise in ‘baby cakes’ (single person serves). They use premium ingredients for their toppings, including cashew cream, almond mocha ganache and organic salted caramel. The cakes are tasty, light, yet moist and flavoursome; and to his great pride, they are popular among vegans and non-vegans alike.

Pushkar explains that while his management background was very useful, the business training from the NEIS program at Holmesglen offered very action-orientated and practical strategies. “Even though I was a senior manager at work for many years, I didn’t realise the multiple aspects that needed to be looked into in order to get a business off the ground and more importantly to keep it there. The NEIS course was essential to make me realise that fact.” 

“The calibre of educators in the NEIS program was impressive. Also the time and energy they put into each session and each student was admirable. I believe NEIS offers a very practical hands-on approach to go from thought to action, from “what if?” to “let’s do this”.”

To keep costs low, Pushkar started his business in his home kitchen, which required approval from Maribyrnong City Council. The kitchen had to be fitted with a commercial oven, commercial dishwasher and other equipment. Pushkar found the council to be very supportive and a great resource. He then sourced the best food-grade packaging, for both aesthetics and suitability for logistics and transportation.

The next stage involved shelf-life testing of all the food by a laboratory to ensure their safety for a defined period. Along the way Pushkar taught himself – through YouTube tutorials and various free platforms – how to create a website and design his own logo, label and brochures. He read up on labelling laws, and corresponded with a local consultant for ongoing advice. He also regularly met with his NEIS mentor for guidance, and as a sounding board for his ideas.  

With the help of his NEIS trainer, Pushkar researched and identified all his different target audiences. He then either called them and booked an appointment, or visited them with awesome samples of his food. Recently, Mahadeva’s Kitchen leased commercial kitchen premises and hosted pop-up stores at markets and shopping centres. Pushkar also had a terrific response to his products at the Big Vegan Market in Melbourne in May 2018.

Pushkar says running his own small business is all about constantly learning, adapting, responding and expanding. “I see all the people who stock my products as an extension of my business and treat them in the same way. I think about what will help them to succeed, and about adding authentic value to their businesses in any way I can.”

You can connect with Pushkar on Facebook and Instagram.

Would you like to access free business training with the NEIS progam? Use the postcode finder to get started, and contact your local NEIS provider.

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