CHENNAI: Sriram Sridharan, along with his business partner Anand, established the first outlet of their brainchild, Gormei Market, a fine foods place that specialises in a range of exclusive local, global and artisanal foods, in 2012. Since then they have expanded to four outlets across the city, and boast a customer base of about 25,000. “We wanted to bring fine foods and a superior shopping experience to Chennai and that’s how the idea of Gormei market came about,” he says. In a tete-a-tete, Sriram tells us about his aspirations, love for travel, food and more.
You are a software designer-turned-entrepreneur. Have you controlled your own path?
Yes, I certainly have. I come from a business family. My father was in the pharmaceutical manufacturing line, and also did some real estate. So, becoming a businessman was always a goal. But I went to the US, did my Masters in Industrial engineering and was a software designer for a while. After about seven to eight years, I decided to come back and do what I was passionate about. I enjoy controlling my path, and helping people in my own way. That has always been a goal.
If given a choice, what alternate career would you have opted for?
I don’t know if I would have opted for it. Since I have always wanted to be my own boss, if not for entrepreneurship, I would have been interested in taking up financial/stock investing. It was a possibility.
Since your work involves travelling - to exhibitions, to meet producers and so on, have you been bitten by the travel bug?
I do travel for work, but not too much. I do it once in a while. But on the other hand, travelling for leisure is something I do very often with my wife and two sons. We haven’t taken many international trips but we have covered almost all the states in India. We love exploring the country, its heritage, culture, food, people. Every place we have travelled to has been different, and to us, it’s the process of travelling that matters and not the destination. We made a goal plan to travel across India and in the last eight years that’s what we have been doing.
A specific memory from one of your recent travelogues?
During our recent visit to Assam, we travelled to Kaziranga National park and that has been one of our best memories. We stayed in a place along the banks of river Brahmaputra and saw wildlife all the time. I would say that was one the best travel experiences we’ve had recently.
Since you work seven days a week, when and how do you unwind?
Yes, the store is open all seven days and work is hectic. But there are ways in which I unwind. I regularly go to the gym in the morning and indulge in weight training. It gives me time to focus and set the track for the day. I also spend time with my family, catching up on movies at Sathyam, visiting temples. One of my favourite activities is to explore the local food scene. I believe that there needs to be a work-life balance and that’s what I work on achieving.
You said you like exploring the food scene, would you call yourself a foodie?
Not really (laughs). I am often confused by the term foodie. It’s so easy to call oneself that. For me, it’s just about exploring everything out there, without a tag.
What was it like to come from a small city like Trichy to Chennai in the early 90s?
I came from Tiruchi to Chennai in 1995, stayed for four years, and then went to the US. I came back here in 2010. The city is of course bigger that Tiruchi but what I love the most is how it has a way of weaving both the modern and contemporary with our heritage. It’s very effortless in Chennai. I consider myself a Chennaiite now.
What does the future look like for Gormei market?
We will be expanding and opening more outlets. We are also working on introducing a mobile application and an online ordering option. We are planning to launch it in the next three to six months. We also have goals of branching out to other states. our reach in Chennai and move to other parts of