BHUBANESWAR: What started as an experiment during the Covid-19 lockdown, is today a means for sustenance for Ashutosh Patra and a large number of local vendors associated with his startup - Tashukeru.
At a time when the pandemic hit the economy hard and many lost their sole source of livelihood, he was able to come out of a personal tragedy because of his year-old venture.
Tashukeru (meaning help in Japanese) was launched by him on August 15 last year when the State was under the pandemic shadow.
A young MCA passout from Ravenshaw University, his aim was to innovate a platform through which the pandemic-hit vendors can sell directly to buyers and the latter can shop anything from the convenience of their homes.
The app hosts a ‘Mo Store’ through which vegetable vendors, home chefs, grocery shop owners, street food sellers and many other small businesses can sell their products.
Helping him in the initiative was his friend Ankit Dhal who completed his MSc degree from Utkal University.
The youths, who had planned to join the IT market after completing their courses, bootstrapped the startup.
While the business was picking up pace, Ashutosh lost his father Jagannath Patra - the sole earning member of his family - to Covid-19 four months back.
Although his demise broke the economic backbone of Ashutosh’s family, he found support from the venture that helped him stay afloat during the difficult time.
“My father’s death had a huge impact on me and my family because he was the one who supported us. Since my startup is an e-commerce platform, it sees both profit and loss. Had I not started this small experiment, I would have been in a financial turmoil”, he said.
Tashukeru does not only sell vegetables, grocery and non-vegetarian food items, but also offers pick and drop facilities for medicines, groceries besides, appliances repair facilities. And there’s ‘prasad’ for the faithful too.
“In fact, annaprasad is our USP now”, says Ashutosh.
The venture, currently, has three temples on its platform - Jagannath temple of Regional College of Management (RCM), Shani temple at Vani Vihar and Vishnu temple at Saheed Nagar.
‘Prasad’ from the temples are delivered in both Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
While it started with a small group of delivery boys, the startup currently has 12 core members. From a humble beginning in Bhubaneswar, the e-commerce venture has now been expanded to Cuttack, Khurda, Bhadrak and Khallikote and talks are on for opening Tashukeru in Berhampur.
“Online marketing is here to stay which is evident from the fact that more people are coming forward to take franchise from us”, added Ashutosh.