March 2020. A multi-million dollar business of delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to the hospitality sector had just come to a standstill. Our company would not be getting any new contracts. COVID-19 had changed everything, forever. This is my story of rising from the ashes.
Visualize a cold Delhi morning of 5 am. A time when everyone loves to cozy up in their quilts and get a few extra hours of sleep. It was 1998 and my entrepreneurial journey had just started, the dawn had become my new friend. It was time for me to deliver my daily consignment of fresh fruits and vegetables to my clients. My clients were not ordinary, the most premium 5-star hotels and flight catering companies were counting on me to bring them the most premium fresh produce. My small business, AT Enterprises, was growing and had now started catering to the most affluent 1% in my country, and sometimes even celebrities. Since then, my company has reached many milestones. We have served International Schools, Hospitals, popular restaurant chains, and even Formula 1, Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
In 2016, we decided to take it a step further by diversifying into farming. We reached out to the people who form the backbone of our country. Our Farmers. We leased our farms and hired farmers to grow our own produce. Exotic bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, basil leaves, avocados to even everyday produce like onions, coriander, potatoes, and green chili. We were growing everything and much more in a 100% clean & healthy environment!
Our farms in Himachal Pradesh and Nashik were now fructuous in their own right. All of our products were being served to premium hotels across the state of Delhi. Our employees were happy, our farmers were happy and as entrepreneurs, we were happy that we were making the world a better place one day at a time.
Then COVID-19 happened. The travel & hospitality industry started to see its worst phase ever and the losses associated with it is truly unprecedented. With no one traveling around the world, all our contracts were put on a standstill. Our 20+ year journey has had many crests and troughs, but this was probably the hardest time of them all. 22nd March 2020, the lockdown had almost started and it became a grave concern on how I can support my employees, my farmers, their families, and the entire society during this unexpected pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill. Laying people off was just not an option for me.
After a few sleepless nights, I decided to pull up my socks and get back into action. I took the bold decision of bringing my business online. I had now realized that the world is not going to stop, it's just going to be a new normal for everyone. That’s when I decided to pivot my business and committed to reach customers directly at their doorstep. In less than a week, I started retaking orders. This time I started to serve residents of my society where I am currently residing. By the end of March, we realized that it's not just my apartment complex but the entire city and state that would need such fresh fruits and vegetables. We restructured our supply chain and ramped up our logistics as the idea started taking off. Soon, we created a website and launched it for residents in Noida and Greater Noida only. Almost immediately, our efforts were recognized & our brand was making rounds in different chat messages and Whatsapp threads. One fun moment was when my school friends were praising our brand without knowing I was running the business. They all claimed that Fast and Fresh delivers garden-fresh produce to our doorsteps. A little voice inside me said I had made it.
Fast and Fresh Global is a one-stop-shop today for sourcing the freshest farm produce home delivered to your doorstep. Our customer’s food consumption is of utmost importance to us, which is why our farm fresh exotic fruits & veggies are cultivated with a high level of care. This story of how we pivoted our business during COVID to serve the freshest fruits and veggies to people in despair is one that is very close to my heart. It serves as a reward to the years of hardship and efforts that has gone into making my business and farm produce better every day.
In hindsight, I feel sacrificing those few hours of early morning sleep made us who we are today. Adaptable, resilient, and unstoppable. This is the story of Fast and Fresh Global LLP.