Creating Social Value Blog / Food

Pitching at the Quick Service Incubator

By Tabitha Das, M’16 and Founder of Sattva Market.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to open a restaurant. It has been a childhood fantasy of mine to one day open the doors to a space filled with food enthusiasts where I would entertain for hours. Any moment I had I would spend in the kitchen, either helping my mom who taught me all about South Indian cuisine, or conjuring up my own creations based on classics or fusions of flavor. When I was not cooking or doing schoolwork, I was watching food T.V., specifically the Food Network. You could not count how many hours I would spend learning all about cooking, entertaining, celebrity chefs, food writers, and food T.V. hosts. I became obsessed with the food world.

While in college, I put my interest for cooking on hold to work on completing a business degree. It was not until I graduated that I started thinking about my passion for food and for cooking. I made what felt like a very bold decision and decided to go to culinary school in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu. It was not because I had no direction or was confused, it just all made sense that this was what I was meant to do. My passion for food and hospitality was not going to be a fantasy anymore.

So for the next 9 years I worked hard to learn as much as there was to know about the restaurant business. I started cooking professionally and eventually managed a couple of restaurants in New York. It was at one precise moment that I came up with an idea for a fast, casual, South Indian restaurant concept and since then I never looked back.

I knew I needed additional business skills to pursue my venture and had been introduced to Babson at a “Food Entrepreneurs” panel in NYC. Once I was accepted to the One Year MBA program, I connected with Rachel Greenberger of Food Sol who encouraged me to pursue the idea. She pushed me to do my research and after consistent weekly visits to Community Table, shared that she was starting to feel I was really defining my path. She reminded me about the Quick Service Incubator sponsored by Food Sol and the WIN Lab.

At first, I was hesitant because I had not pitched in a while and I did not feel I had my brand together, but after a meeting with Rachel she really put me at ease. This was an opportunity to get the word out there about healthy South Indian food for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who wanted more nutritious food in their diet. I wanted to know how I would be able to position myself in the Boston market and food scene; the Quick Service Incubator was the place to start!

I remember very clearly how absolutely nervous I was to pitch in front of an audience of people who did not even know me. I feared I was going to blank out and forget everything I wanted to say. It was my turn to speak and the adrenaline kicked in, I had it! I received some great feedback from the audience and took notes on ideas I had never heard before. The expert panel was amazing as well, anchored by Gail Simmons and Nancy Cushman whose advice was invaluable. After this night, after feeling the support from the people in that room, I felt energized. I can honestly say it was a night I will not forget.

Coming to Babson truly was a blessing and not only for the enriched MBA program, but for all the people I have met who have inspired me to take action on my ideas. I could not have been in the position I am today, to work on a business plan to a restaurant concept I truly believe in and am uniquely capable to deliver on, if it were not for all those who have supported me and encouraged me to believe in my idea and take one bold step after another.