Siddhi Mittal is an entrepreneur and the
co-founder of YHANGRY, An early stage fast growing food tech startup. You may recognise her from her recent pitch on BBC's Dragon's Den, where alongside her co-founder Heinin Zhang, she secured a £100,000 investment from two of the most successful, pioneering business titans the UK has, Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani.
At The Legacy Globe, we are collectively working alongside each other to leave lasting legacies which will empower future generations. How do you feel that your upbringing has shaped you?
My upbringing has been a huge influence on who I am today. I was born in India, a country full of colors, cultures, and traditions. My father is a businessman, which is a less sexy version of an entrepreneur; he is the personification of hard work, grit, and perseverance.
My mother is fierce and intelligent. She always encouraged us to be well educated and independent. Both of their upbringings have hugely shaped who and how I am today - my values, beliefs, and even my personality!
Additionally, growing up in a rich culture that always values family and friends, has been a huge factor in starting and shaping YHANGRY.
You were a trader at Barclays Investment Bank and left a six-figure salary to co-found your business. What inspired you to take the leap and set up YHANGRY?
Six years on the trading floor taught me a lot. I learnt to have thick skin, grit, and to always be laser focused on the results. However, I have always had an entrepreneurial itch.
YHANGRY was only a concept in nascent stages back in 2018, but I was hugely missing the trigger to take the leap. Around that time, I became close friends with my now co-founder Heinin, who joined from Goldman Sachs, and was a brilliant salesperson.
When we discussed YHANGRY and what it could be, it felt like sparks flew, and we both saw a magical world which no one else could yet see. It was this partnership with Heinin that really helped me to take the leap. Having a real partner in crime whom you can trust and share this dream with is everything to me.
You were recently featured on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, where business titans Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani invested £100,000 into your company. What was your experience like on the show?
Dragons' Den was an exhilarating experience, and one I highly recommend. We were scouted in the summer of 2019 to apply on the show and went through intense document checks in order to get approved. All the logistics of setting up on the day were intense, and we prepared quite thoroughly in advance.
I must say, the first 20-30minutes in the Den were intense! But we quickly recovered ground, made a few jokes, and the atmosphere became a lot warmer and friendly. It was over 8hrs of filming on the day, and 2.5hrs in the Den, whilst the real episode was only around 16 minutes. Nothing was staged, and it felt as though we were presenting to a set of tough angels in
Their questions covered all aspects of our business, and given how intense everything was, it was really character-building. All in all, it was a great experience!
In total you have netted £1.1 million in seed funding from a flurry of big-name serial investors such as former Tech Nation chair Eileen Burbidge’s Passion Capital, Made in Chelsea star Ollie Locke and Index Ventures partner Martin Mignot. How did you find the process of raising?
The process of fundraising is undoubtedly a bit bewildering and daunting, but we approached it with a very clear plan of how much time and effort we were going to allocate to it. We prioritised fundraising and Heinin and I split the process between each other. Meanwhile, our team stepped up to take over day-to-day responsibilities. We had an intense few weeks of pitching and iterating but ended up closing our round in under one month.
1) Iterate iterate iterate: your pitch, your answers, your tone, your jokes everything!
2) Discard easily and often. There is so much advice out there that will ultimately be contradictory. You need to decide what you want to apply to your situation.
3) Fundraising takes a lot of time and effort. Take it seriously and ensure that you devote a large percentage of your time to refining everything, from creating the fundraising deck, financial model, list of investors and so on,
4) Warm connections guarantee you 10x more success. Ultimately, people trust people who come recommended, so you need to get crafty in order to find those warm connections.
5) Don't overthink it - just get pitching!
How did you manage to transform an
early-stage startup during a pandemic?
The pandemic was a wild time, especially as we were so young and new into our journey. We were closed for over 3 months due to COVID restrictions, and continued to face a lot of risks to our business. We used this time to brainstorm what we could do in order to increase our reach, get our chefs paid, and stay relevant. That caused us to experiment with new revenue models, 4x our Instagram audience and build personal resilience. We tested as many ideas as we could, changed course quickly, all while staying lean and nimble. We didn't know what the future held, but we firmly believed our business was as relevant post-COVID (if not more!), as it was pre-COVID. That belief kept us going and fighting for a world where we knew YHANGRY existed and thrived in.
What does the word Legacy mean to you?
Legacy to me is making a difference in the world - however small or big. For me, I want to leave a YHANGRY legacy. I want to create a world where people are able to open up their homes and invite their loved ones; a world where people nurture and value their offline relationships. Additionally, I want to be a huge advocate for equal opportunity in every way and empower women to get better opportunities, better pay, and a level playing field.
How important do you feel it is to give back as part of our legacies?
Everyone in life is seeking their purpose, and this manifests itself in different ways. One of the easiest ways to find purpose is to give back, and know that your existence mattered. For that reason, I would say giving back is not only important, but crucial for humans. I personally feel a huge sense of relief and peace knowing that I can leave behind a legacy.