One of the talks really inspired me. It was a talk from CEO of iD Fresh Food. His name is Mustafa and he is the founder of iD Fresh Food – a very common brand for packaged ready to cook food especially in South India. They have a lot of variety of South Indian food like idly dosa batter, vada batter etc.

Mr. Mustafa was explaining his struggles while starting this venture. It was a very inspiring talk and one particular thing inspired me a lot. He mentioned how they were struggling to survive in the market and not getting any orders at all. They hardly had any money and they were struggling to keep the venture open. At that time they also started with some snack items with the hope to survive. One day, he gets a call from Hotel Taj. They were interested in doing business with Mr. Mustafa. He thought that maybe his hard work and toil has eventually paid and they are about to bag a big fat order. He went for the meeting to Hotel Taj and while talking to those people he came to know that the chief chef really liked one of the snacks that iD had come up with recently. Mr. Mustafa got really excited thinking that this deal is going to take them far. But something else happened. The chief chef mentioned that he would like to have that snack as a bar snack. That got Mr. Mustafa’s hopes crashing down. “Bar snack, really!!” he thought.

While coming back from the meeting, he thought about the deal in detail. This deal would bring them out of a huge cash crunch and it was huge business opportunity. But this deal would also mean that he is in some way promoting the alcohol industry. He asked himself and his team this question – “Should we help a chef of 5-star hotel in keeping their bar business going? Or should we help a homemaker who cooks food for her kids every single morning?” They pondered over the questions and answer was clear. They gave up the deal. He said in the talk that he cried that night not because he lost a huge business opportunity but because he was glad that God gave him enough strength to stand by his values even in the situation so adverse.

I could relate to this incident totally because we were in a similar situation few years back. We opened up a restaurant and it was a great venture (at least we thought so initially). But 3 months down the line we realized that it is not working out. We were out of money and out of patience. We had a lot of debt that wasn’t managed well. It was a very stressful situation. Just then the owner of the building where our restaurant was running mentioned that he had some liquor license available which he could sell it to us at high discount. It was a big deal which would have been profitable for sure. The residence area where our restaurant was located was full of youngsters – college kids and young adults looking for jobs in the city. He also mentioned that selling alcohol also meant that we open the doors to drug dealers many of them illegal but highly profitable business. So thinking what might happen if we really go for the deal – we would be encouraging youngsters to drink alcohol and take drugs. We would also be making money at the cost of their health and future. We did not have to think twice before saying a no to this deal. Even though it meant that we had close down our venture and that meant a huge debt (which we are still paying after 5 years of closing down L)

Values aren’t really values unless you can stand by them in the worst condition. Money is one thing that is the easiest temptation when it comes to compromising on values. But all you got to do is stand by them. Like it is a saying – “if you don’t stand for something, you will definitely fall for anything!”