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Dropping Out Of First Year To Making Millions Through Healthy Meals

Simmy Dhillon

Simmer

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Dropping Out Of First Year To Making Millions Through Healthy Meals

Simmy Dhillon

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Simmer

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Simmy Dhillon
Full transcript here

About Simmy Dhillon

The BAE HQ welcomes Simmy Dhillon, the Founder and CEO of Simmer, which provides balanced meals for balanced lives.

Simmy always knew he wanted to start a business someday and got started while at university.

His first year didn't go as expected and he had to drop out but he returned to finish his degree all while building Simmer on the side.

Eventually though the potential was just too great and he went full-time with his brother and mother.

Without taking any outside investment, they've scaled to millions of revenue.

Listen in to learn about his journey and all the wisdom he picked up along the way!

Simmy

Simmer

Show Notes

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Simmy Dhillon Full Transcript

Simmy Dhillon: [00:00:00] This business shouldn't have done so well. And I think one of the reasons that I had is because we don't have any investors, we don't have any, have any advisors. I've never really listened to anyone else who would say, oh, you can't do this. And if someone else has said that, I'm just like, you know what you were talking about.

Simmy Dhillon: So I was working in an admin job, which was very boring. Like I hated it. It was very mind numbing, but I felt like I wanted to start something like SI back then. Obviously what we sell is food, but what we actually sell is like time. It's health. It's a satisfaction for food. It's a feeling of more confidence and empowerment, so we help people simmer up.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to The BAE HQ, where we inspire connecting guide the next generation of British Asians. Smash that subscribe button if you watch us on YouTube and if it's a five star review, if you're listening on Apple or Spotify. Today we have with us Simmy Dhilon, who's the founder of Simmer. Which is a healthy meal delivery service.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Simmy Dhillon: I'm well, thank you. How are you? 

Amardeep Parmar: Good. So thanks so much for coming down. 

Simmy Dhillon:No worries.

Amardeep Parmar: And you're one of the first [00:01:00] people who come on the podcast who I actually use your product and used it for way before I was even thinking about this podcast. Right. So back when your R Ns meals, I used to get that and I pretty much lived off it, to be honest, when I was in the pandemic especially.

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: I'm not the best chef, but. It's nice to know that you always have a healthy meal, but if you rewind for a second, right. When you're growing up, did you think like one day you could be running your own business and doing what you're doing today or what were your ambitions back then?

Simmy Dhillon: Growing up I was, as kids, me and Jay, like wanted to be footballers.

Simmy Dhillon: That was like the dream, but I feel like I realized I was always quite like sharp and I loved business and I always said to Jay that I think we realized Jay wants to go into football. I was gonna go into academia or go into finance, but we always said that we would start our own business together one day.

Simmy Dhillon: We thought that that would be like in our thirties. Once like I'd done like the initial years in, in like a finance career, made lots of money whilst Jay had gone to play football. And it's like then once you're in your thirties, you're set up and you can then start the business. Maybe that's [00:02:00] also because we had a bias in our head that

Simmy Dhillon: You have to be a certain age to start a business as well. Yeah. We'd always talk about when younger, like, we're gonna start a business, we're gonna do all these things. Um, so yeah, definitely. 

Amardeep Parmar: And like what's  the age gap between you two?

Simmy Dhillon: Only 18 months. So he's 18 months older than me. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So people who don't know, obviously that's your brother, right?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you started a business, you've been running it together. Obviously business started about university, right? What were you studying then? Why did you pick that? 

Simmy Dhillon: So initially I went to, um, Warwick and I was studying maths and, and then I dropped out after a term. I really wasn't enjoying it, and I realized that was actually the wrong course for me.

Simmy Dhillon: So I switched to, um, Bristol and I was 

Amardeep Parmar: studying economics. Where did Simmer come into this or the original version of Simmer? Yeah. So 

Simmy Dhillon: actually when I dropped out of university the first time, I had a lot of time in my hands and I really wanted to start doing something that, because I, I feel like. There can, like, I think on gap years, you can do some schemes with, with companies which are quite productive and, and interesting and, and useful.

Simmy Dhillon: But because I. Taken like a, an unplanned half gap year. I didn't really have the opportunity to do any of those things. So I was working in an admin job, which was very boring. Like I hated it. It was [00:03:00] very, um, mind numbing and it was just eating away at me that I was spending my time going into an office, going home and not being able to work on anything.

Simmy Dhillon: So I was reading lots anyway, but I felt like I wanted to start something like, um, Simmer back then for the people I was working in the office with. I was going to do it. I tested the recipes. But when it came to actually starting, I didn't start it because I just thought I was a kid. Everyone else was a lot older.

Simmy Dhillon: They would be like, why are we gonna buy food off you? I wasn't sure if I was allowed to do it in in the workplace. Cause they were like, this guy's here for the summer, like shouldn't be doing that. So that's kind of initially where I had the idea. And then when I got to University, I kind of forgot about the idea.

Simmy Dhillon: And then obviously I'm seeing like the problem, which is like people not having food that like satisfies them. It's not healthy, it's not tasty, it's not convenient. But then I waited until I'd got my first lot of exams outta the way, um, in January of my first year. Then I, and I started it. 

Amardeep Parmar: With the initial dropout, right? How hard was that for you? ‘Cause obviously. As like an Asian person, right. Dropping outta university people, you worried what people are gonna say, all that kind of stuff. Was that, did that [00:04:00] affect you at all? 

Simmy Dhillon: Um, not so much. I think, um, it was like my own, like internal kind of like pressure, because the school I went to wasn't that great and I was probably a bit too cocky, uh, when I was at school.

Simmy Dhillon: So, uh, I think a lot of people were actually shocked that I'd like. Gone to uni, hadn't just like done really well and gone through it. So I think initially I, I hated it in the first couple of weeks and wanted to drop out. I thought, I can't, I, I need to here, here a go. And I kept on doing that, kept on doing that.

Simmy Dhillon: I said I can't drop out. Worked really hard, but it's good that I did like, um, persevere with it because I knew that when I did come to, actually formally withdrawing, it was a hundred percent the right decision. ‘Cause I'd given it like tried everything and I was like, this still isn't enjoyable. This still isn't what I want to do.

Simmy Dhillon: But yeah, that was definitely a challenge. And I think it was like my first real kind of like, uh, setback because I'd always just done really well, like a defining point in my life. And it's really nice that I had that kind of setback at kind of the perfect time.’ Cause obviously it meant that I got to experience a new university where I started a business.

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. ‘Cause I think a lot of people maybe will just carry on going through it and then maybe they have a setback at a later point in life where [00:05:00] actually I think it's better to, to have that failure when you're younger, old enough to understand it, but at that kind of age is probably the best time to for it to happen.

Amardeep Parmar: I think one of the things a lot of people talk about in business as well is like persistence, right? And sometimes what happens is that people keep doing something even when they know it's not working. It's sometimes it's knowing something, it's not right for you. And also is business as well. Like if it's not gonna work, you can also.

Amardeep Parmar: Quit and then not be, it's a failure in some regard, but you've also learned sometimes knowing when to give up. It's, and it's not just giving up, it's putting your resources somewhere else, right? 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And that's what led to where you are today?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I, I think there's a balance because I think a lot of people, especially in like this day and age, um, quit very easily and quit.

Simmy Dhillon: Very quickly. So yeah, on the other hand, people just stick to what they're doing. So it's about getting it right. It's like being like kind of, um, committed enough, um, to something, but also knowing when is right moment to switch, to pivot to.

Amardeep Parmar:  If we go to where you started in at university now with the where like selling the mills, you said you were scared about doing it outta the workplace before.

Amardeep Parmar: What made you actually do it then? What was the first steps you took? Was it just. [00:06:00] To your friends or how did you go about starting the actual business?

Simmy Dhillon: I knew that it would be quite an easy sell because my, where my campus was, it was a little bit outside of like the city. And also this was 2017. So whilst delivery was a thing, then it didn't serve lots of areas.

Simmy Dhillon: So it was out of the radius for delivery. No one could get delivery to our campus. I think the only, uh, the only takeaway that would deliver, uh, was Domino's. So basically Domino's or Cook yourself. So I realized I only had one kind of competitor or two if, you know, I think about cooking. So it just seemed like a bit of a no-brainer.

Simmy Dhillon: And then I realized that this was better than other options, so it should be easy for me to sell it. Um, so I tested a few recipes, tried giving a bit to my flatmates, and they were all like, oh, this is really great. Um, better than anything we make. And then, yeah, just made a Facebook page and started marketing it.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, and it just, Took off .

Amardeep Parmar: Because an issue you're making with the food yourself as well. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So how did you scale that up when you started getting orders in?

Simmy Dhillon: So, yeah, I, I would just literally, I, I had quite a steady, like I knew, I knew that order would come in, so I'd [00:07:00] market it in the morning kind of, or like the night before, try and take orders.

Simmy Dhillon: But then also just like on the day, People would call up, I'd just say, okay, cool. I'll be like 30 minutes, 40 minutes. I'd go in, I'd make the food and then literally walk to their deliver to them because everyone, like the furthest distance I'd have to walk to a customer was like eight minutes. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think one of the tough things, a lot of people at the beginning as well was like, how to price that.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you go about trying to work out how much do I charge this? Are people gonna pay?. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. Um, it's funny ‘cause  like I sold, like, I was one of those kids who obviously sold like sweets and, and chocolates and crisps on the playground. And from that experience I know that like you always wanna charge 50 or a pound because it's a round number.

Simmy Dhillon: And I remember when some people would try and. Charge 80 for things or one pound, two. It just, it's hassle. And I guess this was in 2017 as well, where now like I don't carry any cash ever because it's just inefficient. So I was just like five pounds. It's just a round number. You either have a five pound no or I'll have change or, so it's just uh, quite simple.

Amardeep Parmar: And when did you  start off him? Is this something. Which obviously it was just a side hustle at the beginning, right? When you think thinking maybe this could be like my full-time thing?

Simmy Dhillon: like years later. Probably the first [00:08:00] time I actually thought that without wanting to like jump head too much, cause I know the missing parts out.

Simmy Dhillon: But that was 2017. It wasn't until summer 2019. So two and a half years later, uh, when I was interning at Google and someone said to me, Uh, I think you've got a lot of potential here, uh, for this business. And I think it was so credible saying that to me. Then I thought actually, oh, well if he's saying it then, then actually there is potential here.

Simmy Dhillon: Because before that, even though like mates or the other people at university would say, oh, this is really cool, like, what you do next. I kind of in a way didn't like, there's this phrase of like believability, uh, waiting like decisions or like opinions. And I felt like a lot of people that I knew I wasn't gonna be like, oh, That's a credible source for like business advice or, or input.

Simmy Dhillon: So it was present to that point. My actual, actually there's something here.

Amardeep Parmar: Oh, so you were doing at university and like you said, university's a captive audience, right? You had only Domino's and people cooking as a competitor. 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Once you left university, you started doing interns and things like that.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you then transition the business?

Simmy Dhillon: So I, I was doing it for the first, like kind of six months from [00:09:00] January, 2017 to summer. And then obviously uni finished. Um, so I went home, uh, to Hitchin and then I was like to Jay and Mom, we should, we should start doing this here. So that was quite fun over summer, trying to serve a different audience.

Simmy Dhillon: We also like developed two different dishes. Uh, we had different challenges cause obviously we have to, we had to deliver a bit further. We stopped just using Facebook. I started using Instagram as well. Yeah, that was an interesting challenge. It was fun, uh, really enjoyable. And then, uh, went back to uni for second year and I kind of lost my whole market because everyone was living together.

Simmy Dhillon: Now everyone's living out across the city. So that was a lot tougher. And I tried to pivot away from takeaways, like healthy takeaways. To, um, meal Prep. That was a, like a, a pivot that we had as a business, um, which was good cause it increased the average order value. There was a lot more kind of repeatability there cause people would get it each week as well.

Simmy Dhillon: And there was kind of like, we didn't have food waste before because we always like kind of cook to order and we always have, but this way we are just a lot more efficient because you would turn the ovens on and you'd cook for 10, 15, 20, 50 mealss as opposed to two, three mealss. University became a lot more demanding.

Simmy Dhillon: So [00:10:00] I, I kind of thought that actually about quitting then because I was like, ah, we've. We've had fun with this. It's been good. Made a little bit of money, um, some great experience, but, um, I don't think this is very scalable. And then it got to the point where I kind of didn't want to leave it. I, I think I became quite attached to it.

Simmy Dhillon: It was really fun and I felt like it would be a shame to leave it. Maybe it was also a bit of a pride thing, um, because I felt like a lot of my identity had now being attached to it, especially because of everyone I knew at university. Pretty much, as long as they'd known me, I'd been doing the business.

Simmy Dhillon: So it kind of felt like a, a shame. Um, to stop it, then it was the point where I couldn't do both. Um, it was like I wasn't going to my lectures. I was just cooking and, and trying to make it work, but it wasn't working. I was very tired, burnt out, and then I kind of got to the realization I had to either stop the business completely or, um, take a year off of university, um, to really focus on it and make self-sufficient and hire people.

Simmy Dhillon: And, um, yeah, that was, uh, the year after.

Amardeep Parmar:. And is that what you did then? So you took that year off? 

Simmy Dhillon: So actually, so a year off, starting. 2018 January, I decided to, it was a bit [00:11:00] technical to defer my January exam, so not take them, cause I hadn't gone to any of my lectures, state university, do my summer exams.

Simmy Dhillon: And then when they gave me like resets, like there was a technicality, a bit of a loophole where if you take your exam to do poorly, uh, or if you fail them, you can't like, You were capped at like a 40%.

Amardeep Parmar:Mm-hmm.

Simmy Dhillon: Like, I obviously didn't want to do that and I didn't wanna do poorly, but if you defer them again, it would basically, um, force a supplementary year, which is basically where you reset the year.

Simmy Dhillon: But I could do that, um, remotely without paying tuition fees. So I knew that was gonna happen. Deferred the exams, again, forced the supplementary year, which basically was a year for me to build my own placement year cause I didn't offer that. So that's what I ended up doing. Um, and realizing that we had to like find a new premises, hire staff and 

Amardeep Parmar: Where did you hire the staff? Was that in  Hitchin  or was that Bristol?

Simmy Dhillon:, In Hitchin. I kind of decided that I point in second year that. Bristol and students was, was finished. That's how we started. But that wasn't gonna be the future. Yeah. And it was gonna be like working people spend [00:12:00] more money and we would focus more on, on the meal prep side of things because it was a better business and I guess more meaningful as well.

Amardeep Parmar: And at this time was obviously your family really involved in this? How were they involved in the stage? How much of the time was you versus them? What was that dynamic like? 

Simmy Dhillon: So when I got back to second, so after that summer, it was me, Jay, and mum. We were doing quite a lot of it. I'd probably say more so me and mum.

Simmy Dhillon: Well, I was doing most of the business stuff. I would basically like call mum, say, oh, we've got one or two orders here. She'd cook it and then one of us would deliver it. And then, uh, Jay was helping out as and when he could, but he was still like very much focused on football at that time and helping out as he could.

Simmy Dhillon: And then when I went back to university, I would still basically be taking calls from customers or like people would call up and then, cause it's just my mobile number. I'll be like, hello? I wouldn't say hello. Oh, could you wanna take an order? I was like, hello? And they'd be like, hello? And they'd be like, is this rice spice?

Simmy Dhillon: And I'll like, oh, yes, yes, yes. Um, we started to place an order, uh, where are you calling from? Hitchin or Bristol. So it's just [00:13:00] like a really weird thing, like there's just one number for, for everything. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah.

 Simmy Dhillon: Um, and then if it was Hitchin, I would take the order, um, and then call it through to mom, and then she would cook it and deliver it.

Simmy Dhillon: If it was Bristol, I would do it. Yeah. It was a bit of a. It's very informal. 

Amardeep Parmar: Okay. So obviously then, did you, you then completed Junior University or did you drop out again or what happened there?

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, so I did, my first year did quite well. Second year I did half my exams, uh, the summer and I got a first that was great, and then I deferred them.

Simmy Dhillon: So, I would basically have to take half of my second year whilst running the business remotely. Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Sodid you actually complete the degree in the end? 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So then like once you left the degree, then you didn't straight away decide to go full-time, right? 

Simmy Dhillon:No. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you did the internships and stuff?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: What was behind not trying to get full-time then? 

Simmy Dhillon: Because I didn't think it was a scalable business. I just thought that, um, the reason I was taking the year off is because I felt like I'd done a lot of work in starting something. There was something potentially special here that I could make this a self-sufficient business and then I could potentially.

Simmy Dhillon: Not have to run it. So either I could have some passive income from [00:14:00] it. I can give Jay and Mum something that there's a business for you guys to run and it would be enjoyable for 'em to run it. And they would make a bit of money. I would make a bit of money and I, I guess it would, it was like the intention wasn't to make it some crazy business like a startup or a large business.

Simmy Dhillon: It was just like a fun business that was, um, profitable and, um, satisfied a need and um, yeah. Cause obviously it's a product that we use every day, so it'd also be good to basically have a pro a business that I could even free with. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And  you said there was the guy at Google that then encouraged you to take it full time, right?

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: What then changed in that mindset for you then? Just once she's been told by somebody credible. 

Simmy Dhillon:.Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar:This got legs

Simmy Dhillon:. Yeah. Well actually it wasn't one person, it was everyone I spoke to were like, oh, this is really interesting. Like they were like, you shouldn't come back here. You like, they were like, oh, they'll give you an offer, but everyone loves you here.

Simmy Dhillon: You'll come back like you can give, you can have an offer. You can come back if you want to, but don't go and work on this thing. Like you are clearly so much more passionate about it. It's got a lot of potential and, um, The guy who, who, uh, the specific guy who I was, um, speaking to [00:15:00] actually used to work for HelloFresh and then he worked for Google and he was like, oh, HelloFresh was first a tech company, second a food company.

Simmy Dhillon: And I didn't realize at the time how much companies are worth, but HelloFresh was worth like hundreds of millions, billions. And I was like, oh, that was like quite mind blowing for me. That food business can be worth that much. Cause it wasn't a food business, it was a tech business. So off the back of that, I think I, I learned quite a lot about like obviously working in a big tech company.

Simmy Dhillon: About automation and like, just how things are done, uh, at that kind of like level. So I felt like automation was a big thing that we needed to have in our business. Um, so literally after him saying that, I was like, I need a developer. We need to automate so many processes. So I went out and, and, and found a developer.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, a friend of mine was working in the startup. This guy was a developer there. He was meant to like an eight week project on the website. It ended up going from eight weeks to just like, Part-time indefinitely and then full-time. So he ended up quitting his job to come and work on the business as well.

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, but that's the the point where I thought, oh, there's potential here. But even then I didn't think that I would go work on the business full-time. I just thought there was potential

Amardeep Parmar: As that transition happened. Like what were the different [00:16:00] steps that took you to this is it and I'm quitting my job and going full-time?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. It was a very slow process because, um, I didn't end up quitting until, um, Q1 of 2021, so it's four years of starting. So it was a very long time. Mm-hmm. It was very, like, there wasn't any like big thing that happens or it was just like very slow or gradual. And if you think about like the business where it is today, pretty much everything has been like just built from scratch from the website.

Simmy Dhillon: To the brand, the marketing, the operations, the factory themselves, the menu. Um, and it's great that I've basically had like a lot of input on all of that and understand it all, all really well and inside out. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think sometimes a lot of people think you need to quit your job then start the business.

Simmy Dhillon: Mm-hmm.

Amardeep Parmar: But  in reality, you can do it on the side and yeah, you did it a lot longer than many people might expect as well. Sometimes people think, oh, you started for a couple months, then you quit your job. 

Simmy Dhillon:Mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar:Are you glad you did it that way?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. Yeah. I'm so glad that I did it. Like I feel like I did it the perfect way, starting a business in your first year of university.

Simmy Dhillon: Finishing your degree, having the experience of internships, even having the experience for a [00:17:00] graduate job, and then basically being in a position where you've graduated, you've been in the job for six months, your business is already turning over like, uh, a million pounds a year. Great. And it's profitable.

Simmy Dhillon: Like it's just, it's the perfect situation. Like I couldn't have asked it for it to be any better.

Amardeep Parmar: And when you were in, in full-time then, what was it like you were thinking, okay, now that I'm full-time, what can I do now? Right. What were you 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: I thought, this is what I'm gonna be able to..

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I thought, oh, now I go full time.

Simmy Dhillon: This is gonna be like, I think that year, obviously, um, revenue was like, um, or the ARR the annual recurring revenue was a million. We haven't actually made a million pounds at that point, but that quarter we'd made like a quarter of a million. So we were on for, for a million revenue, I thought, oh. Well, within like a year we'll go 10 to like 10 million, then we'll go to a hundred, then we'll go to like a billion.

Simmy Dhillon: And it just doesn't work like that. Um, like yeah, obviously as you get bigger it's, it's so much harder to, to double and triple and, and, and five x and 10 x. Yeah. I think I, um, you, you obviously work within a certain, like size of market, size of business. And you forget about a lot of [00:18:00] things that when you scale, it becomes a lot harder.

Simmy Dhillon: So yeah, I thought it, it would, it would just fly, um, quite naively, but I'd always been just quite naive and it worked out. So yeah, it didn't work out quite that way. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think sometimes as well, people forget, like to become a successful entrepreneur, you need a little bit of delusion, right? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

You need to be able to believe that you can break something.

Amardeep Parmar: Or do something better than other people can. Yeah. And sometimes you don't know that until we start. 

Simmy Dhillon: Mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar: But I think that's what holds you back. Sometimes you need a bit of like delusion, like Yeah, I'm gonna be, this's gonna be a billion dollar company next year. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Because if you shoot for the stars right, then your land ons a moon.

Amardeep Parmar: Right? It's like, 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah 

Amardeep Parmar: you gotta do that sometimes. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I think as well, um, potentially one of the reasons why this business has done so well is because it, like this business shouldn't have done so well. And I think one of the reasons that I have is because we don't have any investors, we don't have any, have any advisors.

Simmy Dhillon: I've never really listened to anyone else who would say, oh, you can't do this. And if someone else has said that, I'm just like, you don't know what you were talking about. I like, I don't need to worry about what you're, what you're saying basically.

Amardeep Parmar: You are the person who starts the business. You want the passion.

Amardeep Parmar: You're, you've got one who's got it this far for a reason. And it's tough sometimes a lot of [00:19:00] people to know. It's like when do you listen? When do you not listen?

Simmy Dhillon: I think there are a lot of nuances, like if you're a first time founder or not, if you worked in that industry before, who your advisors are, who your investors are, if you're doing something completely different.

Simmy Dhillon: ‘Cause yeah, a lot of businesses will try and do things the same way. ‘Cause there is a way of doing business. It's like raising money, developing your products, hitting like economies of scale, trying to acquire users as quickly as you can. They all acquire 'em the same way. And if you kind of deviate from that, then they don't like that.

Simmy Dhillon: They don't believe in that. It's kind of like, let's do it this way, or we are gonna have problems, basically. 

Amardeep Parmar: Were you ever tempted to try and take on investment? 

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, we never really needed it. I didn't even know you could take on investment. Like I thought the only way you do it is, oh, you take out a bank loan.

Simmy Dhillon: I didn't know what VC was. I didn't know. Like what angel investors are, um, for a long time until we didn't need them. Obviously, I understand that there are benefits of raising money, um, but I feel like every, like, there are some industries that you have to raise money, like lots of tech businesses because you need so much developer power.[00:20:00] 

Simmy Dhillon: You don't make any money until you hit whatever level and you can't generate revenue. But if you have a product where you can generate revenue from, from the start, then I don't think that you should raise money. And so you've got a subtraction. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you, what do you invest most of your money in now, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Cause obviously you are creating this profits, obviously, you know, to pay yourself and your family and everybody like that as well. What are you trying to expand within the business, or where are you using that money to kind of pay it forwards?

Simmy Dhillon: I would say, In marketing, obviously acquiring more users, I would say in product.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, so that's, that's the big one, really, uh, where you're investing in better equipment so you can deliver a better quality product to the customer. But then also like the digital product, always working on like improving our like kind of, we don't have an app, but like our web app experience the staff as well.

Simmy Dhillon: Because in a way, investing in like, yeah, the people is one of the biggest things. That's how the business can continue to grow. Um, so yeah, hiring more people. I think those are main things really.

Amardeep Parmar: Um, what been some of the biggest challenges? ‘Cause if I imagine if I started a food business, some of the things would be worried most about, I was like all of the regulations and making [00:21:00] sure that like if you have one bad batch, what then happens?

Amardeep Parmar: How do you cope with all of that kind of problems?

Simmy Dhillon: So, biggest challenges, I would say operations are a very, are huge challenging food. Because we've grown quite small and organically, or like, it's obviously like a, a significantly sized business now, but that obviously hasn't happened overnight. Um, so it's like first starting and then like, because we've done it quite slowly, it hasn't been that much of an issue.

Simmy Dhillon: There are always moments when we are like, ah, there's a certain challenge, like delivery, we can't get the deliveries far enough or, and they were like, okay, well what do we need to do? We need to like change our whole delivery model or shelf life. The shelf, the meals aren't lasting long enough. What can we do?

Simmy Dhillon: We'll invest in the new, um, like packing technology or too many customers complaining because we're using plastic containers. Oh, what were you gonna do? We're gonna go out and find a whole new, uh, packaging supplier. But yeah, I feel like a lot of things happen slowly and iteratively over time. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you enjoy the most yourself, like in the business?

Simmy Dhillon: Um, not the operations. So Jay manages the operations and very lucky that he does that cause he's really good at it. [00:22:00] Uh, and we have a really great kitchen team. I mean, like any part of the business is enjoyable, but it's best when you can focus on one thing and, and, and really. Do that well, so I pretty much do everything that isn't the operations.

Simmy Dhillon: So whether that be like the brand and marketing side of things, whether it be like kind of customer experience, the website, the data side of things, the strategy. 

Amardeep Parmar: You obviously rebranded fairly recently. What was behind that rebrand and the like, why did you choose Simmer and what does that represent?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, so the reason why we changed name, well mainly cause we needed a name change and also like, just to, to, to make it a bit more aesthetic. Um, cause I think brand is really important, um, especially when it comes to like, FM, CG and like food. So that's why we needed to change the name. Um, because Rice Spice wasn't representative of what we did anymore, and the process took a long time.

Simmy Dhillon: We landed on simmer and it just kind of just made sense. 

Amardeep Parmar: Because is there any relation to your name there at all? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, yeah, there is. I think ‘cause obviously it's such a, like people buy from people. And one of our successes is that like people have always resonated with myself, Jay, mom, and the story. So definitely that was the element of that, of [00:23:00] that there.

Simmy Dhillon: It's also like a quite nice word, like it's two syllables. It's short, it's happy, everyone can pronounce it. It's kind of like a warm word, like you associate similar with like with food and warmth and also like, I guess there's a bit of a metaphor there in terms of like, for us, we, obviously what we sell is food, but what we actually sell is like time.

Simmy Dhillon: It's like, it's um, health, it's, uh, satisfaction for food. It's a feeling of, of like kind of. More confidence and, and, and like empowerment. So in a way we help people simmer up. And I think it was quite a nice metaphor because we, we don't like make them like work so much that they have to boil over, but they're not just kind of flat and, and not achieving and progressing.

Simmy Dhillon: They're kind of simmering up nicely. 

Amardeep Parmar: You, you share your business journey a lot for your LinkedIn particular, like I've seen you there a lot. What was the reasoning behind that? Was it always something you just did or, um, have you found that journey? And obviously you're getting a lot of outreach and obviously people like me messaging you, right.

Simmy Dhillon: I think it is like, Obviously our biggest strength is our story. It's very unique and it's like, it's an interesting story. I think it's also quite relatable and very like understand, like it's [00:24:00] quite simple, um, which is why it's probably so relatable as well. And I think people are just genuinely interested because everyone understands food.

Simmy Dhillon: A lot of people are interested in business and it's not something super complex, so people just asking about all the time. So I obviously understand that there's interest there. And to be honest, because when we started we didn't have any marketing budget and we had to do things like organically and organic social media.

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, and I realized you can post certain stuff about food, but I don't think it's that interesting to be honest. And I found that whenever we posted about the business story or updates, it would just get a lot more engagement. So I was like, okay, this is working. I enjoy writing about this stuff or producing content on this so much more.

Simmy Dhillon: I'm gonna carry on doing this. And then, yeah, people have really engaged with it. People have, I think they gain value from it. I enjoy the process of creating that. So it just made sense to carry doing it and it's, it's good for business.

Amardeep Parmar:  Do you have any tips for anybody who might want to try and do the same thing as you've done to grow their business?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, I would say that like storytelling is really important. So it's just about telling stories really. Um, I would say, yeah, that's what we've always, always focused on storytelling and just like being consistent.

Amardeep Parmar:  Yeah. So we're gonna move to quick bio questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians [00:25:00] that you'd love to shout out for the amazing work they're doing?

Simmy Dhillon: Um, so obviously I can't not shout out my brother Jay, and he has a great job, especially on the operation side of our business, and I would say a Akash Mehta , um, who's doing a great job with Fable and Mane, and then Ahana Banerjee who is working on Clear.

Amardeep Parmar: Great. So I think I've into, I've into two of those three already, so we'll get Jay on in the future as well.

Amardeep Parmar: The next one is, if people listening right now could reach out to you for help or guidance or learn more about you and simmer 

Simmy Dhillon:mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar:What would you advise them? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, I would say that, um, LinkedIn is probably the best thing to to do. I always find that like, obviously when I first started, I try and reach out to lots of people for help and lots of people don't respond.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, and I understand why, because obviously they're busy and I always try to like personalize my outreach as much as I could. So like I do get lots of people reaching out to me on, on Instagram, on on, on LinkedIn, whatever it it may be. Um, and sometimes I feel like the outreach can be quite lazy. Uh, and I'm not gonna kind of respond to that cause there's so much things.

Simmy Dhillon: But like if there is someone who has like. Clearly done their [00:26:00] research. I'd always say as well, you shouldn't ask someone a question that you can find on the internet, like quite easily. Um, so there's like a more genuine question than sure. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then on the other side, is there anything you need help with right now or Simmer needs help with?

Simmy Dhillon: So I mentioned before what we're investing in is definitely like people and hiring. So it's very, we are very busy with growing lots at the moment. Um, but we're always looking for good people to work in the team. So if you're based in Hartfordshire and you wanna work in like an operations role, um, then definitely.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, give a shout and you'll be working with Jay, but we are always looking out for like good, kind of like marketers, um, especially people who are more like content focused. Um, so if you are kind of looking for a marketing role in a fun startup, then sure, like send me a personalized connection request, um, on LinkedIn and we'll chat.

Amardeep Parmar: So thanks so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience? 

Simmy Dhillon: Not really. I'll just say, yeah, make sure you follow in. Uh, online. Follow me on, on LinkedIn and stuff like that. I think, yeah, the, the one thing that I would say is like, if you are listening to this, cause you're interested in business, it's great to be learning to consuming like, um, [00:27:00] conversations like this.

Simmy Dhillon: But try like, hopefully there's one thing in particular, and it might be different for each person that you resonate with us. On, on, on this chat and try and actually put that into action. Try and do something off the back of that.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, to inspire and connect and guide the next generation of British Asians

Amardeep Parmar: If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

Simmy Dhillon: [00:00:00] This business shouldn't have done so well. And I think one of the reasons that I had is because we don't have any investors, we don't have any, have any advisors. I've never really listened to anyone else who would say, oh, you can't do this. And if someone else has said that, I'm just like, you know what you were talking about.

Simmy Dhillon: So I was working in an admin job, which was very boring. Like I hated it. It was very mind numbing, but I felt like I wanted to start something like SI back then. Obviously what we sell is food, but what we actually sell is like time. It's health. It's a satisfaction for food. It's a feeling of more confidence and empowerment, so we help people simmer up.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to The BAE HQ, where we inspire connecting guide the next generation of British Asians. Smash that subscribe button if you watch us on YouTube and if it's a five star review, if you're listening on Apple or Spotify. Today we have with us Simmy Dhilon, who's the founder of Simmer. Which is a healthy meal delivery service.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Simmy Dhillon: I'm well, thank you. How are you? 

Amardeep Parmar: Good. So thanks so much for coming down. 

Simmy Dhillon:No worries.

Amardeep Parmar: And you're one of the first [00:01:00] people who come on the podcast who I actually use your product and used it for way before I was even thinking about this podcast. Right. So back when your R Ns meals, I used to get that and I pretty much lived off it, to be honest, when I was in the pandemic especially.

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: I'm not the best chef, but. It's nice to know that you always have a healthy meal, but if you rewind for a second, right. When you're growing up, did you think like one day you could be running your own business and doing what you're doing today or what were your ambitions back then?

Simmy Dhillon: Growing up I was, as kids, me and Jay, like wanted to be footballers.

Simmy Dhillon: That was like the dream, but I feel like I realized I was always quite like sharp and I loved business and I always said to Jay that I think we realized Jay wants to go into football. I was gonna go into academia or go into finance, but we always said that we would start our own business together one day.

Simmy Dhillon: We thought that that would be like in our thirties. Once like I'd done like the initial years in, in like a finance career, made lots of money whilst Jay had gone to play football. And it's like then once you're in your thirties, you're set up and you can then start the business. Maybe that's [00:02:00] also because we had a bias in our head that

Simmy Dhillon: You have to be a certain age to start a business as well. Yeah. We'd always talk about when younger, like, we're gonna start a business, we're gonna do all these things. Um, so yeah, definitely. 

Amardeep Parmar: And like what's  the age gap between you two?

Simmy Dhillon: Only 18 months. So he's 18 months older than me. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So people who don't know, obviously that's your brother, right?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you started a business, you've been running it together. Obviously business started about university, right? What were you studying then? Why did you pick that? 

Simmy Dhillon: So initially I went to, um, Warwick and I was studying maths and, and then I dropped out after a term. I really wasn't enjoying it, and I realized that was actually the wrong course for me.

Simmy Dhillon: So I switched to, um, Bristol and I was 

Amardeep Parmar: studying economics. Where did Simmer come into this or the original version of Simmer? Yeah. So 

Simmy Dhillon: actually when I dropped out of university the first time, I had a lot of time in my hands and I really wanted to start doing something that, because I, I feel like. There can, like, I think on gap years, you can do some schemes with, with companies which are quite productive and, and interesting and, and useful.

Simmy Dhillon: But because I. Taken like a, an unplanned half gap year. I didn't really have the opportunity to do any of those things. So I was working in an admin job, which was very boring. Like I hated it. It was [00:03:00] very, um, mind numbing and it was just eating away at me that I was spending my time going into an office, going home and not being able to work on anything.

Simmy Dhillon: So I was reading lots anyway, but I felt like I wanted to start something like, um, Simmer back then for the people I was working in the office with. I was going to do it. I tested the recipes. But when it came to actually starting, I didn't start it because I just thought I was a kid. Everyone else was a lot older.

Simmy Dhillon: They would be like, why are we gonna buy food off you? I wasn't sure if I was allowed to do it in in the workplace. Cause they were like, this guy's here for the summer, like shouldn't be doing that. So that's kind of initially where I had the idea. And then when I got to University, I kind of forgot about the idea.

Simmy Dhillon: And then obviously I'm seeing like the problem, which is like people not having food that like satisfies them. It's not healthy, it's not tasty, it's not convenient. But then I waited until I'd got my first lot of exams outta the way, um, in January of my first year. Then I, and I started it. 

Amardeep Parmar: With the initial dropout, right? How hard was that for you? ‘Cause obviously. As like an Asian person, right. Dropping outta university people, you worried what people are gonna say, all that kind of stuff. Was that, did that [00:04:00] affect you at all? 

Simmy Dhillon: Um, not so much. I think, um, it was like my own, like internal kind of like pressure, because the school I went to wasn't that great and I was probably a bit too cocky, uh, when I was at school.

Simmy Dhillon: So, uh, I think a lot of people were actually shocked that I'd like. Gone to uni, hadn't just like done really well and gone through it. So I think initially I, I hated it in the first couple of weeks and wanted to drop out. I thought, I can't, I, I need to here, here a go. And I kept on doing that, kept on doing that.

Simmy Dhillon: I said I can't drop out. Worked really hard, but it's good that I did like, um, persevere with it because I knew that when I did come to, actually formally withdrawing, it was a hundred percent the right decision. ‘Cause I'd given it like tried everything and I was like, this still isn't enjoyable. This still isn't what I want to do.

Simmy Dhillon: But yeah, that was definitely a challenge. And I think it was like my first real kind of like, uh, setback because I'd always just done really well, like a defining point in my life. And it's really nice that I had that kind of setback at kind of the perfect time.’ Cause obviously it meant that I got to experience a new university where I started a business.

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. ‘Cause I think a lot of people maybe will just carry on going through it and then maybe they have a setback at a later point in life where [00:05:00] actually I think it's better to, to have that failure when you're younger, old enough to understand it, but at that kind of age is probably the best time to for it to happen.

Amardeep Parmar: I think one of the things a lot of people talk about in business as well is like persistence, right? And sometimes what happens is that people keep doing something even when they know it's not working. It's sometimes it's knowing something, it's not right for you. And also is business as well. Like if it's not gonna work, you can also.

Amardeep Parmar: Quit and then not be, it's a failure in some regard, but you've also learned sometimes knowing when to give up. It's, and it's not just giving up, it's putting your resources somewhere else, right? 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And that's what led to where you are today?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I, I think there's a balance because I think a lot of people, especially in like this day and age, um, quit very easily and quit.

Simmy Dhillon: Very quickly. So yeah, on the other hand, people just stick to what they're doing. So it's about getting it right. It's like being like kind of, um, committed enough, um, to something, but also knowing when is right moment to switch, to pivot to.

Amardeep Parmar:  If we go to where you started in at university now with the where like selling the mills, you said you were scared about doing it outta the workplace before.

Amardeep Parmar: What made you actually do it then? What was the first steps you took? Was it just. [00:06:00] To your friends or how did you go about starting the actual business?

Simmy Dhillon: I knew that it would be quite an easy sell because my, where my campus was, it was a little bit outside of like the city. And also this was 2017. So whilst delivery was a thing, then it didn't serve lots of areas.

Simmy Dhillon: So it was out of the radius for delivery. No one could get delivery to our campus. I think the only, uh, the only takeaway that would deliver, uh, was Domino's. So basically Domino's or Cook yourself. So I realized I only had one kind of competitor or two if, you know, I think about cooking. So it just seemed like a bit of a no-brainer.

Simmy Dhillon: And then I realized that this was better than other options, so it should be easy for me to sell it. Um, so I tested a few recipes, tried giving a bit to my flatmates, and they were all like, oh, this is really great. Um, better than anything we make. And then, yeah, just made a Facebook page and started marketing it.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, and it just, Took off .

Amardeep Parmar: Because an issue you're making with the food yourself as well. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So how did you scale that up when you started getting orders in?

Simmy Dhillon: So, yeah, I, I would just literally, I, I had quite a steady, like I knew, I knew that order would come in, so I'd [00:07:00] market it in the morning kind of, or like the night before, try and take orders.

Simmy Dhillon: But then also just like on the day, People would call up, I'd just say, okay, cool. I'll be like 30 minutes, 40 minutes. I'd go in, I'd make the food and then literally walk to their deliver to them because everyone, like the furthest distance I'd have to walk to a customer was like eight minutes. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think one of the tough things, a lot of people at the beginning as well was like, how to price that.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you go about trying to work out how much do I charge this? Are people gonna pay?. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. Um, it's funny ‘cause  like I sold, like, I was one of those kids who obviously sold like sweets and, and chocolates and crisps on the playground. And from that experience I know that like you always wanna charge 50 or a pound because it's a round number.

Simmy Dhillon: And I remember when some people would try and. Charge 80 for things or one pound, two. It just, it's hassle. And I guess this was in 2017 as well, where now like I don't carry any cash ever because it's just inefficient. So I was just like five pounds. It's just a round number. You either have a five pound no or I'll have change or, so it's just uh, quite simple.

Amardeep Parmar: And when did you  start off him? Is this something. Which obviously it was just a side hustle at the beginning, right? When you think thinking maybe this could be like my full-time thing?

Simmy Dhillon: like years later. Probably the first [00:08:00] time I actually thought that without wanting to like jump head too much, cause I know the missing parts out.

Simmy Dhillon: But that was 2017. It wasn't until summer 2019. So two and a half years later, uh, when I was interning at Google and someone said to me, Uh, I think you've got a lot of potential here, uh, for this business. And I think it was so credible saying that to me. Then I thought actually, oh, well if he's saying it then, then actually there is potential here.

Simmy Dhillon: Because before that, even though like mates or the other people at university would say, oh, this is really cool, like, what you do next. I kind of in a way didn't like, there's this phrase of like believability, uh, waiting like decisions or like opinions. And I felt like a lot of people that I knew I wasn't gonna be like, oh, That's a credible source for like business advice or, or input.

Simmy Dhillon: So it was present to that point. My actual, actually there's something here.

Amardeep Parmar: Oh, so you were doing at university and like you said, university's a captive audience, right? You had only Domino's and people cooking as a competitor. 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Once you left university, you started doing interns and things like that.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you then transition the business?

Simmy Dhillon: So I, I was doing it for the first, like kind of six months from [00:09:00] January, 2017 to summer. And then obviously uni finished. Um, so I went home, uh, to Hitchin and then I was like to Jay and Mom, we should, we should start doing this here. So that was quite fun over summer, trying to serve a different audience.

Simmy Dhillon: We also like developed two different dishes. Uh, we had different challenges cause obviously we have to, we had to deliver a bit further. We stopped just using Facebook. I started using Instagram as well. Yeah, that was an interesting challenge. It was fun, uh, really enjoyable. And then, uh, went back to uni for second year and I kind of lost my whole market because everyone was living together.

Simmy Dhillon: Now everyone's living out across the city. So that was a lot tougher. And I tried to pivot away from takeaways, like healthy takeaways. To, um, meal Prep. That was a, like a, a pivot that we had as a business, um, which was good cause it increased the average order value. There was a lot more kind of repeatability there cause people would get it each week as well.

Simmy Dhillon: And there was kind of like, we didn't have food waste before because we always like kind of cook to order and we always have, but this way we are just a lot more efficient because you would turn the ovens on and you'd cook for 10, 15, 20, 50 mealss as opposed to two, three mealss. University became a lot more demanding.

Simmy Dhillon: So [00:10:00] I, I kind of thought that actually about quitting then because I was like, ah, we've. We've had fun with this. It's been good. Made a little bit of money, um, some great experience, but, um, I don't think this is very scalable. And then it got to the point where I kind of didn't want to leave it. I, I think I became quite attached to it.

Simmy Dhillon: It was really fun and I felt like it would be a shame to leave it. Maybe it was also a bit of a pride thing, um, because I felt like a lot of my identity had now being attached to it, especially because of everyone I knew at university. Pretty much, as long as they'd known me, I'd been doing the business.

Simmy Dhillon: So it kind of felt like a, a shame. Um, to stop it, then it was the point where I couldn't do both. Um, it was like I wasn't going to my lectures. I was just cooking and, and trying to make it work, but it wasn't working. I was very tired, burnt out, and then I kind of got to the realization I had to either stop the business completely or, um, take a year off of university, um, to really focus on it and make self-sufficient and hire people.

Simmy Dhillon: And, um, yeah, that was, uh, the year after.

Amardeep Parmar:. And is that what you did then? So you took that year off? 

Simmy Dhillon: So actually, so a year off, starting. 2018 January, I decided to, it was a bit [00:11:00] technical to defer my January exam, so not take them, cause I hadn't gone to any of my lectures, state university, do my summer exams.

Simmy Dhillon: And then when they gave me like resets, like there was a technicality, a bit of a loophole where if you take your exam to do poorly, uh, or if you fail them, you can't like, You were capped at like a 40%.

Amardeep Parmar:Mm-hmm.

Simmy Dhillon: Like, I obviously didn't want to do that and I didn't wanna do poorly, but if you defer them again, it would basically, um, force a supplementary year, which is basically where you reset the year.

Simmy Dhillon: But I could do that, um, remotely without paying tuition fees. So I knew that was gonna happen. Deferred the exams, again, forced the supplementary year, which basically was a year for me to build my own placement year cause I didn't offer that. So that's what I ended up doing. Um, and realizing that we had to like find a new premises, hire staff and 

Amardeep Parmar: Where did you hire the staff? Was that in  Hitchin  or was that Bristol?

Simmy Dhillon:, In Hitchin. I kind of decided that I point in second year that. Bristol and students was, was finished. That's how we started. But that wasn't gonna be the future. Yeah. And it was gonna be like working people spend [00:12:00] more money and we would focus more on, on the meal prep side of things because it was a better business and I guess more meaningful as well.

Amardeep Parmar: And at this time was obviously your family really involved in this? How were they involved in the stage? How much of the time was you versus them? What was that dynamic like? 

Simmy Dhillon: So when I got back to second, so after that summer, it was me, Jay, and mum. We were doing quite a lot of it. I'd probably say more so me and mum.

Simmy Dhillon: Well, I was doing most of the business stuff. I would basically like call mum, say, oh, we've got one or two orders here. She'd cook it and then one of us would deliver it. And then, uh, Jay was helping out as and when he could, but he was still like very much focused on football at that time and helping out as he could.

Simmy Dhillon: And then when I went back to university, I would still basically be taking calls from customers or like people would call up and then, cause it's just my mobile number. I'll be like, hello? I wouldn't say hello. Oh, could you wanna take an order? I was like, hello? And they'd be like, hello? And they'd be like, is this rice spice?

Simmy Dhillon: And I'll like, oh, yes, yes, yes. Um, we started to place an order, uh, where are you calling from? Hitchin or Bristol. So it's just [00:13:00] like a really weird thing, like there's just one number for, for everything. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah.

 Simmy Dhillon: Um, and then if it was Hitchin, I would take the order, um, and then call it through to mom, and then she would cook it and deliver it.

Simmy Dhillon: If it was Bristol, I would do it. Yeah. It was a bit of a. It's very informal. 

Amardeep Parmar: Okay. So obviously then, did you, you then completed Junior University or did you drop out again or what happened there?

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, so I did, my first year did quite well. Second year I did half my exams, uh, the summer and I got a first that was great, and then I deferred them.

Simmy Dhillon: So, I would basically have to take half of my second year whilst running the business remotely. Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Sodid you actually complete the degree in the end? 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So then like once you left the degree, then you didn't straight away decide to go full-time, right? 

Simmy Dhillon:No. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you did the internships and stuff?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: What was behind not trying to get full-time then? 

Simmy Dhillon: Because I didn't think it was a scalable business. I just thought that, um, the reason I was taking the year off is because I felt like I'd done a lot of work in starting something. There was something potentially special here that I could make this a self-sufficient business and then I could potentially.

Simmy Dhillon: Not have to run it. So either I could have some passive income from [00:14:00] it. I can give Jay and Mum something that there's a business for you guys to run and it would be enjoyable for 'em to run it. And they would make a bit of money. I would make a bit of money and I, I guess it would, it was like the intention wasn't to make it some crazy business like a startup or a large business.

Simmy Dhillon: It was just like a fun business that was, um, profitable and, um, satisfied a need and um, yeah. Cause obviously it's a product that we use every day, so it'd also be good to basically have a pro a business that I could even free with. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And  you said there was the guy at Google that then encouraged you to take it full time, right?

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: What then changed in that mindset for you then? Just once she's been told by somebody credible. 

Simmy Dhillon:.Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar:This got legs

Simmy Dhillon:. Yeah. Well actually it wasn't one person, it was everyone I spoke to were like, oh, this is really interesting. Like they were like, you shouldn't come back here. You like, they were like, oh, they'll give you an offer, but everyone loves you here.

Simmy Dhillon: You'll come back like you can give, you can have an offer. You can come back if you want to, but don't go and work on this thing. Like you are clearly so much more passionate about it. It's got a lot of potential and, um, The guy who, who, uh, the specific guy who I was, um, speaking to [00:15:00] actually used to work for HelloFresh and then he worked for Google and he was like, oh, HelloFresh was first a tech company, second a food company.

Simmy Dhillon: And I didn't realize at the time how much companies are worth, but HelloFresh was worth like hundreds of millions, billions. And I was like, oh, that was like quite mind blowing for me. That food business can be worth that much. Cause it wasn't a food business, it was a tech business. So off the back of that, I think I, I learned quite a lot about like obviously working in a big tech company.

Simmy Dhillon: About automation and like, just how things are done, uh, at that kind of like level. So I felt like automation was a big thing that we needed to have in our business. Um, so literally after him saying that, I was like, I need a developer. We need to automate so many processes. So I went out and, and, and found a developer.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, a friend of mine was working in the startup. This guy was a developer there. He was meant to like an eight week project on the website. It ended up going from eight weeks to just like, Part-time indefinitely and then full-time. So he ended up quitting his job to come and work on the business as well.

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, but that's the the point where I thought, oh, there's potential here. But even then I didn't think that I would go work on the business full-time. I just thought there was potential

Amardeep Parmar: As that transition happened. Like what were the different [00:16:00] steps that took you to this is it and I'm quitting my job and going full-time?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. It was a very slow process because, um, I didn't end up quitting until, um, Q1 of 2021, so it's four years of starting. So it was a very long time. Mm-hmm. It was very, like, there wasn't any like big thing that happens or it was just like very slow or gradual. And if you think about like the business where it is today, pretty much everything has been like just built from scratch from the website.

Simmy Dhillon: To the brand, the marketing, the operations, the factory themselves, the menu. Um, and it's great that I've basically had like a lot of input on all of that and understand it all, all really well and inside out. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think sometimes a lot of people think you need to quit your job then start the business.

Simmy Dhillon: Mm-hmm.

Amardeep Parmar: But  in reality, you can do it on the side and yeah, you did it a lot longer than many people might expect as well. Sometimes people think, oh, you started for a couple months, then you quit your job. 

Simmy Dhillon:Mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar:Are you glad you did it that way?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. Yeah. I'm so glad that I did it. Like I feel like I did it the perfect way, starting a business in your first year of university.

Simmy Dhillon: Finishing your degree, having the experience of internships, even having the experience for a [00:17:00] graduate job, and then basically being in a position where you've graduated, you've been in the job for six months, your business is already turning over like, uh, a million pounds a year. Great. And it's profitable.

Simmy Dhillon: Like it's just, it's the perfect situation. Like I couldn't have asked it for it to be any better.

Amardeep Parmar: And when you were in, in full-time then, what was it like you were thinking, okay, now that I'm full-time, what can I do now? Right. What were you 

Simmy Dhillon:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: I thought, this is what I'm gonna be able to..

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I thought, oh, now I go full time.

Simmy Dhillon: This is gonna be like, I think that year, obviously, um, revenue was like, um, or the ARR the annual recurring revenue was a million. We haven't actually made a million pounds at that point, but that quarter we'd made like a quarter of a million. So we were on for, for a million revenue, I thought, oh. Well, within like a year we'll go 10 to like 10 million, then we'll go to a hundred, then we'll go to like a billion.

Simmy Dhillon: And it just doesn't work like that. Um, like yeah, obviously as you get bigger it's, it's so much harder to, to double and triple and, and, and five x and 10 x. Yeah. I think I, um, you, you obviously work within a certain, like size of market, size of business. And you forget about a lot of [00:18:00] things that when you scale, it becomes a lot harder.

Simmy Dhillon: So yeah, I thought it, it would, it would just fly, um, quite naively, but I'd always been just quite naive and it worked out. So yeah, it didn't work out quite that way. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think sometimes as well, people forget, like to become a successful entrepreneur, you need a little bit of delusion, right? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

You need to be able to believe that you can break something.

Amardeep Parmar: Or do something better than other people can. Yeah. And sometimes you don't know that until we start. 

Simmy Dhillon: Mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar: But I think that's what holds you back. Sometimes you need a bit of like delusion, like Yeah, I'm gonna be, this's gonna be a billion dollar company next year. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Because if you shoot for the stars right, then your land ons a moon.

Amardeep Parmar: Right? It's like, 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah 

Amardeep Parmar: you gotta do that sometimes. 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah. I think as well, um, potentially one of the reasons why this business has done so well is because it, like this business shouldn't have done so well. And I think one of the reasons that I have is because we don't have any investors, we don't have any, have any advisors.

Simmy Dhillon: I've never really listened to anyone else who would say, oh, you can't do this. And if someone else has said that, I'm just like, you don't know what you were talking about. I like, I don't need to worry about what you're, what you're saying basically.

Amardeep Parmar: You are the person who starts the business. You want the passion.

Amardeep Parmar: You're, you've got one who's got it this far for a reason. And it's tough sometimes a lot of [00:19:00] people to know. It's like when do you listen? When do you not listen?

Simmy Dhillon: I think there are a lot of nuances, like if you're a first time founder or not, if you worked in that industry before, who your advisors are, who your investors are, if you're doing something completely different.

Simmy Dhillon: ‘Cause yeah, a lot of businesses will try and do things the same way. ‘Cause there is a way of doing business. It's like raising money, developing your products, hitting like economies of scale, trying to acquire users as quickly as you can. They all acquire 'em the same way. And if you kind of deviate from that, then they don't like that.

Simmy Dhillon: They don't believe in that. It's kind of like, let's do it this way, or we are gonna have problems, basically. 

Amardeep Parmar: Were you ever tempted to try and take on investment? 

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, we never really needed it. I didn't even know you could take on investment. Like I thought the only way you do it is, oh, you take out a bank loan.

Simmy Dhillon: I didn't know what VC was. I didn't know. Like what angel investors are, um, for a long time until we didn't need them. Obviously, I understand that there are benefits of raising money, um, but I feel like every, like, there are some industries that you have to raise money, like lots of tech businesses because you need so much developer power.[00:20:00] 

Simmy Dhillon: You don't make any money until you hit whatever level and you can't generate revenue. But if you have a product where you can generate revenue from, from the start, then I don't think that you should raise money. And so you've got a subtraction. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you, what do you invest most of your money in now, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Cause obviously you are creating this profits, obviously, you know, to pay yourself and your family and everybody like that as well. What are you trying to expand within the business, or where are you using that money to kind of pay it forwards?

Simmy Dhillon: I would say, In marketing, obviously acquiring more users, I would say in product.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, so that's, that's the big one, really, uh, where you're investing in better equipment so you can deliver a better quality product to the customer. But then also like the digital product, always working on like improving our like kind of, we don't have an app, but like our web app experience the staff as well.

Simmy Dhillon: Because in a way, investing in like, yeah, the people is one of the biggest things. That's how the business can continue to grow. Um, so yeah, hiring more people. I think those are main things really.

Amardeep Parmar: Um, what been some of the biggest challenges? ‘Cause if I imagine if I started a food business, some of the things would be worried most about, I was like all of the regulations and making [00:21:00] sure that like if you have one bad batch, what then happens?

Amardeep Parmar: How do you cope with all of that kind of problems?

Simmy Dhillon: So, biggest challenges, I would say operations are a very, are huge challenging food. Because we've grown quite small and organically, or like, it's obviously like a, a significantly sized business now, but that obviously hasn't happened overnight. Um, so it's like first starting and then like, because we've done it quite slowly, it hasn't been that much of an issue.

Simmy Dhillon: There are always moments when we are like, ah, there's a certain challenge, like delivery, we can't get the deliveries far enough or, and they were like, okay, well what do we need to do? We need to like change our whole delivery model or shelf life. The shelf, the meals aren't lasting long enough. What can we do?

Simmy Dhillon: We'll invest in the new, um, like packing technology or too many customers complaining because we're using plastic containers. Oh, what were you gonna do? We're gonna go out and find a whole new, uh, packaging supplier. But yeah, I feel like a lot of things happen slowly and iteratively over time. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you enjoy the most yourself, like in the business?

Simmy Dhillon: Um, not the operations. So Jay manages the operations and very lucky that he does that cause he's really good at it. [00:22:00] Uh, and we have a really great kitchen team. I mean, like any part of the business is enjoyable, but it's best when you can focus on one thing and, and, and really. Do that well, so I pretty much do everything that isn't the operations.

Simmy Dhillon: So whether that be like the brand and marketing side of things, whether it be like kind of customer experience, the website, the data side of things, the strategy. 

Amardeep Parmar: You obviously rebranded fairly recently. What was behind that rebrand and the like, why did you choose Simmer and what does that represent?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, so the reason why we changed name, well mainly cause we needed a name change and also like, just to, to, to make it a bit more aesthetic. Um, cause I think brand is really important, um, especially when it comes to like, FM, CG and like food. So that's why we needed to change the name. Um, because Rice Spice wasn't representative of what we did anymore, and the process took a long time.

Simmy Dhillon: We landed on simmer and it just kind of just made sense. 

Amardeep Parmar: Because is there any relation to your name there at all? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, yeah, there is. I think ‘cause obviously it's such a, like people buy from people. And one of our successes is that like people have always resonated with myself, Jay, mom, and the story. So definitely that was the element of that, of [00:23:00] that there.

Simmy Dhillon: It's also like a quite nice word, like it's two syllables. It's short, it's happy, everyone can pronounce it. It's kind of like a warm word, like you associate similar with like with food and warmth and also like, I guess there's a bit of a metaphor there in terms of like, for us, we, obviously what we sell is food, but what we actually sell is like time.

Simmy Dhillon: It's like, it's um, health, it's, uh, satisfaction for food. It's a feeling of, of like kind of. More confidence and, and, and like empowerment. So in a way we help people simmer up. And I think it was quite a nice metaphor because we, we don't like make them like work so much that they have to boil over, but they're not just kind of flat and, and not achieving and progressing.

Simmy Dhillon: They're kind of simmering up nicely. 

Amardeep Parmar: You, you share your business journey a lot for your LinkedIn particular, like I've seen you there a lot. What was the reasoning behind that? Was it always something you just did or, um, have you found that journey? And obviously you're getting a lot of outreach and obviously people like me messaging you, right.

Simmy Dhillon: I think it is like, Obviously our biggest strength is our story. It's very unique and it's like, it's an interesting story. I think it's also quite relatable and very like understand, like it's [00:24:00] quite simple, um, which is why it's probably so relatable as well. And I think people are just genuinely interested because everyone understands food.

Simmy Dhillon: A lot of people are interested in business and it's not something super complex, so people just asking about all the time. So I obviously understand that there's interest there. And to be honest, because when we started we didn't have any marketing budget and we had to do things like organically and organic social media.

Simmy Dhillon: Uh, and I realized you can post certain stuff about food, but I don't think it's that interesting to be honest. And I found that whenever we posted about the business story or updates, it would just get a lot more engagement. So I was like, okay, this is working. I enjoy writing about this stuff or producing content on this so much more.

Simmy Dhillon: I'm gonna carry on doing this. And then, yeah, people have really engaged with it. People have, I think they gain value from it. I enjoy the process of creating that. So it just made sense to carry doing it and it's, it's good for business.

Amardeep Parmar:  Do you have any tips for anybody who might want to try and do the same thing as you've done to grow their business?

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, I would say that like storytelling is really important. So it's just about telling stories really. Um, I would say, yeah, that's what we've always, always focused on storytelling and just like being consistent.

Amardeep Parmar:  Yeah. So we're gonna move to quick bio questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians [00:25:00] that you'd love to shout out for the amazing work they're doing?

Simmy Dhillon: Um, so obviously I can't not shout out my brother Jay, and he has a great job, especially on the operation side of our business, and I would say a Akash Mehta , um, who's doing a great job with Fable and Mane, and then Ahana Banerjee who is working on Clear.

Amardeep Parmar: Great. So I think I've into, I've into two of those three already, so we'll get Jay on in the future as well.

Amardeep Parmar: The next one is, if people listening right now could reach out to you for help or guidance or learn more about you and simmer 

Simmy Dhillon:mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar:What would you advise them? 

Simmy Dhillon: Yeah, I would say that, um, LinkedIn is probably the best thing to to do. I always find that like, obviously when I first started, I try and reach out to lots of people for help and lots of people don't respond.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, and I understand why, because obviously they're busy and I always try to like personalize my outreach as much as I could. So like I do get lots of people reaching out to me on, on Instagram, on on, on LinkedIn, whatever it it may be. Um, and sometimes I feel like the outreach can be quite lazy. Uh, and I'm not gonna kind of respond to that cause there's so much things.

Simmy Dhillon: But like if there is someone who has like. Clearly done their [00:26:00] research. I'd always say as well, you shouldn't ask someone a question that you can find on the internet, like quite easily. Um, so there's like a more genuine question than sure. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then on the other side, is there anything you need help with right now or Simmer needs help with?

Simmy Dhillon: So I mentioned before what we're investing in is definitely like people and hiring. So it's very, we are very busy with growing lots at the moment. Um, but we're always looking for good people to work in the team. So if you're based in Hartfordshire and you wanna work in like an operations role, um, then definitely.

Simmy Dhillon: Um, give a shout and you'll be working with Jay, but we are always looking out for like good, kind of like marketers, um, especially people who are more like content focused. Um, so if you are kind of looking for a marketing role in a fun startup, then sure, like send me a personalized connection request, um, on LinkedIn and we'll chat.

Amardeep Parmar: So thanks so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience? 

Simmy Dhillon: Not really. I'll just say, yeah, make sure you follow in. Uh, online. Follow me on, on LinkedIn and stuff like that. I think, yeah, the, the one thing that I would say is like, if you are listening to this, cause you're interested in business, it's great to be learning to consuming like, um, [00:27:00] conversations like this.

Simmy Dhillon: But try like, hopefully there's one thing in particular, and it might be different for each person that you resonate with us. On, on, on this chat and try and actually put that into action. Try and do something off the back of that.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, to inspire and connect and guide the next generation of British Asians

Amardeep Parmar: If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

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