Missing the foods from home is a nearly universal experience for expats. To satisfy those cravings, alumnus Jagan Yysuaraju, MBA ’18, recently launched Mixe.Store. The startup delivers South Asian foods and kitchen products to 16 European countries.
During 11 years as an expatriate in France, Jagan Yysuaraju has carved out a good life for himself. The Indian native soared through a French master’s program as a Campus France Eiffel Lauréate. In 2018, he topped that experience off with an MBA degree from HEC Paris. His CV boasts solid experience working for multinational companies, including Salesforce, Alstom and, most recently, as a strategic consultant for the OECD.
Still, he yearned for something close to the hearts – and stomachs – of nearly all expats: the tastes of home.
“Of course I’ve discovered French cuisine since settling in France, but my appetite for cooking the foods from home never left me,” Jagan explains. “Every South Asian knows the quality and the provenance of spices is very important to have the true taste of those dishes. It was like a madeleine de Proust situation for me.”
During each of his long-haul flights from New Delhi back to Paris, Jagan would load his suitcase with spices and other ingredients that he simply couldn’t find in France. Even when he discovered some of those items for sale in the City of Light, they were often available only at exorbitant prices. Still, he felt lucky to live in Paris. Imagine the struggle to find those same items in some of Europe’s smaller cities?
It was during an overseas trip last August, when Jagan was yet again lugging the flavors of South Asia back to France in his baggage, that he was inspired to create Mixe.Store, the B2C entity of MIXE Corporation. He envisioned an innovative e-commerce platform that would save him and other connoisseurs of South Asian foods from the burden of hand-importing ingredients or, just as exasperating, from trudging from one bricks-and-mortar specialty store to another, in the hopes of finding the right products at the right price.
In November 2020, a mere 45 days after that late summer flight, Mixe.Store went live.
“We have already emerged as the only Pan-European platform to offer a standardized pricing, delivery and shopping experience to diverse European markets,” Jagan says.
Jagan credits the partnerships he forged with leading importers, distributors and South Asian manufacturers for the online store’s speedy time-to-market and attractive prices. Business France (French Tech) and the Choose Paris Region helped with the legal aspects for creating MIXE Corp –“bureaucracy in France isn’t always the easiest,” Jagan explains – and his business plan ensures easy shopping from the comfort of home.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Mixe.Store is a runaway success. Since its initial launch in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, the startup has scaled up rapidly. Five months later, it now delivers to 16 European countries. It also has 3,000 subscribers who use the platform to satiate their appetites for flavorful brand-name grocery items from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“We have already emerged as the only Pan-European platform to offer a standardized pricing, delivery and shopping experience to diverse European markets,” Jagan explains.
It’s really not surprising that Jagan is poised to take on the world one spice at a time. Even as a child, he sat in on the strategy talks between his father and grandfather, both entrepreneurs. “I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit,” he explains. “Being raised in an entrepreneurial family definitely pushed me to fight for what I believe in and to defend my ideas. Growing up surrounded by people who worked daily to achieve their goals and push themselves to succeed made me realize that this is the type of life that I was made for.”
Still, the engineering major says he wouldn’t have plunged into this venture without the HEC Paris MBA. “The program definitely helped me grow confident, strong and audacious,” he says. “Professors supported my entrepreneurial ambitions and assisted me with valuable advice. Thanks to HEC, I was able to launch my own company with all the resources I need for MIXE Corp to become successful and prosperous.”
With the online store’s star rising so quickly, Jagan and his investors are working non-stop to add to the platform’s offerings. They already include more than 500 food, beverage and personal-care items. They also envision selling Hallal, Mediterranean and African comestibles, and later adding French delicacies to their products.
“We use customer feedback to increase our variety and assortment, and we are working on building new partnerships with South Asian brands to meet the growing demand,” he says. “Only this month we have broadened our offer to include brands like Chheda’s and Ching’s Secrets. We are really trying to offer the best quality and prices on the widest range of goods we can.”
Jagan also has a vision for a B2B version of Mixe.Store, called Mixe.Shop, which would be available for restaurants and other large-scale buyers. His long-term goal is to become the first worldwide import/export platform based in France for all imported grocery needs and kitchen products.
Happily for the HEC Community, Jagan hasn’t forgotten about the corner of the world that includes the Jouy-en-Josas campus. People using the code MIXEFORHEC will receive a 5 percent discount on their orders. Deliveries to campus are within 24 hours.