By July 2015, we were live and how! It took Tarang’s relocation to Bangalore, coding marathons nights, shouting matches, and furious pursuit for funding to get EatOrg in the market. But there was stiff competition. All of sudden, everyone was online. We were trying to foray into an extremely competitive space, and the rumors of start-ups closing every now and then scared us. It was then when the first crack started appearing.”Aakaash bhai this is not done. You do know that we have to have organic ingredients only.” Tarang looked tired, but his voice bore a strength. “Tarang listen, this is a business. We have our VC to answer to. How do you think we are going to scale up to NCR and Pune? We have to make profits, else no one will give us any money to run EatOrg. ” Aakaash sounded desperate, and as if to drive his point across, he said , ” Dekh yaar Tarang, let me put it this way. I took loan from my dad to make this happen, Vaani invested all her savings. You on the other hand had no money in hand, because you had taken loan for your MBA and had to pay your monthly EMIs.” “What do you want to say Aakaash, that I have no say in this because I couldn’t invest any money? This is what this is about, isn’t it? Money!!!” Tarang lifted his favorite 3×3 Rubik’s cube from the desk and flung it at the wall in rage. I had never seen him this angry before.
How far will you go for what matters to you?
“Buzzingaaa”, yelled Tarang, right at the top of his voice. “Shut up yaar, what kind of moron has a food app sounding like an energy drink?”, Aakaash replied, annoyed. I laughed, “Sure Tarang, let’s call it Buzzingaaa, and “buzz” this nonsense out of Aakaash’s mind. Buzz Buzz Buzzzzzzz”. “You guys are mad, I don’t know why am I even doing this with you. I had to literally beg for money from my dad, do you folks have any idea how hard it is? And he is expecting the money back!!” I could sense Aakaash was about to lose it and decided to intervene. “Ok Ok fine, lets call it EatOrg. We provide healthy meals prepared from locally sourced organic raw materials, EatOrg makes sense.” “Yayy EatOrg!!!!”, Tarang screamed again, Aakaash put his hands on Tarang’s mouth and said “And the first rule of EatOrg – no yelling please!!!”
EatOrg was our dream, our baby. We had spent a lot of our free time in college discussing the problems of farmers – Aakaash’s father was a traditional landlord in the heartland of UP, and he shared with us many tales of the plight of farmers – their struggles with erratic irrigation, apathetic authorities, lack of knowledge about scientific methods to farm, the vicious circle of loans from money lenders on high rates – it was depressing to hear about farmers grappling with such grave problems for years, with no help. Some good Samaritans though, like Aakaash’s dad and grandfather themselves, had taken upon the task of counselling small farmers about their rights and in particular, scientific, organic ways of farming without the extensive use of expensive fertilizers and chemicals for greater produce.
It was while discussing this that one fine day, after Aaagaaz 2011, that Tarang came up with the idea of having restaurant that served food prepared from locally sourced organic ingredients. Tarang was like that, creative, always brimming with ideas, several of which would be crazy. But this stuck with all of us, and we decided to get back to it whenever we could. In December 2014, Tarang came down to Bangalore, where me and Aakaash were slogging in our regular IT jobs, and got us to sit together in a Starbucks to discuss EatOrg. We spent 6 hours together that day, debating everything from name to sourcing of ingredients, office space, designing of website and mobile apps, so on and so forth.
“Both of you had jobs after B.Tech. I had to go for MBA because I didn’t. And don’t forget, it was my brain-child. I convinced you both, else you would have still been slogging in your lame jobs, fighting for the next promotion or an overseas opportunity.” Tarang’s words turned meaner and meaner.
“Tarang say whatever the fuck you want to, the fact remains that this company has mine and Vaani’s hard-earned money and we have to recover our investments back. This is a business and not a charity. The customers are hardly going to know the difference between organic and non-organic ingredients and once we start making money, we will source raw materials from local farmers also. But for now, we have to tie up with the organic farm our VC has suggested. ” Aakaash was trying to keep his calm, but I could see the lines around his eyes getting sharper.
“You know it pretty well Aakaash that the VC is a money sucker. That organic farm of his is a sham and they employ several laborers at pitiable rates to work day in and out in that farm. But since you want to be a businessman, suit yourself. I can’t be associated with you anymore. Vaani, I am leaving.”
Tarang reached for the door and turned back. I could see it in his eyes, his silent plea to stop him, to reason out with Aakaash as always, to take his side and explain things better to Aakaash. “Tarang, I understand what you mean, but Aakaash has a point here. Let’s sit and discuss, shall we? Let me order two chilled beers for you folks, let’s talk this out.”
“Vaani there is nothing left to talk, you seem to have made your stand pretty clear.” With that, Tarang turned the door knob and left, without looking back.