IN CONVERSATION WITH RAMYA SATEESH

Giving has been a way for you. What got you interested in the first place and how has it evolved?

Bangalore is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. With a population approaching 9 million, it produces around 4000 tonnes of solid waste each day. Most of this is dumped in land fill sites near villages on the city’s outskirts.

Being born and brought up in Bangalore, it’s sad to see how the city has gone from being a garden city, to garbage city, traffic city and the likes. I know a lot of people like to reminisce, but that’s what the old Bangalore charm is like. I still remember the strolls on tree-lined path; any travel from one end to the other would only be 30-45 mins maximum.

I grew up and started working with an MNC; but like any old Bangalorean, I kept thinking of what can I do to reclaim some of the good things of “old” Bangalore back.

This was the driving force to be part of a startup run by a group of 25 year olds, we thought it is our onus to act responsibly towards the city.

Cookaroo is a next generation online food startup which aims to be a daily meal solution for our customers. Consumers use Cookaroo on a regular basis whether at home, or their offices because of the wholesome meals we offer at very affordable prices. The entire process is made extremely convenient through the usage of technology.

To be a daily meal solution and operate in the affordable price point segment, we have to keep all our costs tremendously low. This includes cutting down on packaging costs as well. Although we would love to use 100% biodegradable material for packaging, the availability of such material is rare and expensive. The food packaging industry has not undergone enough innovative transformation to ensure that such materials are produced widely and made affordable. We therefore had to settle for the next best option available – food-grade recyclable plastic. This material when disposed in the right manner, gets recycled multiple times and therefore has a positive impact on reducing the carbon footprint. BBMP has initiated an active campaign targeted at every household for the proper disposal of waste and we are helping BBMP maintain Bangalore while reducing the negative environmental impact. We wanted to start a campaign where we educate people about the proper disposal of recyclable plastic, and waste in general. Bangalore was once called the Garden City, and though we cannot change what ‘development’ has done to the city, we can do our part to clean it up and make it a better place.

“Being born and brought up in Bangalore, it’s sad to see how the city has gone from being a garden city, to garbage city, traffic city and the likes.”

“Since we use reusable, recyclable food grade plastic, we thought it was our responsibility as a company to educate our customers.”

How does your experience as a budding entrepreneur influence your work as a philanthropist?

Being an entrepreneur in the food sector has given me a harsh and realistic picture of what the city has become. Deliveries getting delayed due to the uncontrolled traffic and people disposing trash in the most uncivilized manner really bothered me, and us as a company. Since we can’t do much about the traffic, we thought we’d do something about responsible waste disposal. And hence, since we use reusable, recyclable food grade plastic, we thought it was our responsibility as a company to educate our customers.

Who have you looked to for guidance and inspiration as a fellow philanthropist?

For me, every Bangalorean who is striving to work towards making it a better place to live is my inspiration. So every reader of your platform, and every Bangalorean is my inspiration.

I also feel, when you have a certain amount of civic sense in you, and love for the place that you live in, you don’t really have to look elsewhere for inspiration. Just like the way you wouldn’t litter the house or room you stay in because you have a sense of belonging to it, you would want to do your part to protect the city you live in.

For me, Bangalore has been extremely close to my heart. And it pains me very deeply to see what has become of it. This is where I derive my inspiration from.

“Every Bangalorean who is striving to work towards making it a better place to live is my inspiration”

So what’s next for in your philanthropic journey?

Some of the successful philanthropic investments today, is what companies like Ola and Uber are doing in the green space to reduce the carbon footprint through carpooling, and other initiatives.

We at Cookaroo, would like to take one step at a time. We have started with educating our customers on responsible waste reduction, and would like to build on this program.

If a person is interested in learning more about winning Bangalore back, what’s your advice? Where should they start?

Start from simple things like not littering. You will find more information from this blog.  https://thepurplecocoon.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/macha-i-love-bangalore-ra/

My view that “giving” is addictive and contagious. Once you start doing something and you see an impact, it just drives you further to pick up another initiative, and another, and so on.

Ramya is a senior marketing manager at Cookaroo. She quit her corporate job at Vodafone to join this venture as the food industry really excites her and the unpredictable nature of the startup environment gets her adrenaline going. Apart from work, she loves theatre, and used to do her bit for social work by teaching at a local NGO.