DabbaDrop to launch zero waste store and ready meals
East London’s sustainable Indian takeaway DabbaDrop is poised for big things.
They’re gearing up to deliver London-wide, are developing their own range of pickles and chutneys, make-your-own kits and ready meals and are about to launch a zero-waste shop to help people live plastic-free.
The business is run by friends and neighbours Anshu Ahuja (a former TV producer) and Renee Williams (a former restaurant event producer). Juggling childcare, particularly mid-pandemic has made running a business more challenging but they take it in turns to watch the kids so the other can work.
DabbaDrop delivers pre-ordered meat-free Indian food by bike in metal tiffin tins – the system is inspired by Mumbai’s dabbawalas (a bicycle lunch delivery service). Though they have a team of cyclists on cargo bikes to deliver (and an electric van to reach South London, Anshu and Renee do hop on their bikes to help with deliveries from time to time.
Local Buyers Club members get their first curry free when they sign up to DabbaDrop.
Lockdown bought a huge surge in demand for DabbaDrop.
Anshu said: “The demand was exhilarating but overwhelming as we weren’t equipped to fulfil so many subscribers at that time. The pandemic brought several challenges as a small business which was stressful at times. However, we’ve overcome an awful lot and are very happy to welcome new subscribers.
“We plan to expand across most of London by 2021/22. Following that we’ll start expanding in cities outside of the capital. We’d really love to see DabbaDrop in all major cities across the UK one day soon.”
Since launching in November 2018, DabbaDrop’s reusable dabbas have helped prevent the use of more than 50,000 plastic containers. Their delivery team has made more than 25,000kms of emission-free deliveries.
Renee added: “In the early days, we were constantly asked if we would do on demand deliveries but our dabbas and zero food waste model meant that we needed to stick to it being pre-order. It took a while for people to get used to our way of doing things but now we can see there’s so many businesses that operate this way. Glad we stuck to our guns in those early years - it is a lesson to all new entrepreneurs to believe in yourself and set boundaries on what you will and absolutely will not compromise on.”
The team are in the process of setting up an online zero-waste shop. Anshu explained: “We already have a wonderful community of DabbaDroppers who are helping with our mission to reduce plastic waste, and we wanted to be able to offer them a thoughtfully selected range of products that can aid a plastic-free lifestyle.”
Though working so closely with your friend and neighbour does have its challenges, Anshu and Renee’s depend heavily on each other.
Anshu added: “Neighbours first, then good friends, we were brought together by our kids, shared appreciation of music, nature and of course, food. The friendship was a good basis to start a business together, as well as our complimentary skills to create something we’re both very proud of.
“Two years on, we share just about everything as mums and neighbours. From childcare and mealtimes to running DabbaDrop, our lives are busy, fulfilled and fun!”
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