Meet Ashie Bhandiwad, the creator of StemChef
From a Bio-scientist to a new Mom to a scientific chef. It has been quite a journey for Ashie – it wasn’t until her daughter was four years old that she discovered she had a passion for teaching science to kids as much as she had a passion for hard-core science. And it all started at the dinner table. Watch Ashie’s video and continue reading her interview to learn more about her and her business StemChef.
Tell us a little about yourself
The best way to define me is a bioscientist turned pre-school educator. On a personal front I am a wife to a supportive husband, a mom to an amazing six year old daughter and a rebellious daughter to my awesome parents. I have always had a rebellious streak in me but now I am putting it to good use.
Prior to venturing off as an entrepreneur, I was a working in the bioenergy sector trying to solve energy problems of the world. I have accrued three professional degrees from three continents including a doctorate in Engineering from an Ivy League; spent most of my life in academia; and have realized and admitted to myself that the antediluvian education system needs to change for the future.
Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
The core reason for my professional pivot is my daughter. It started about three years ago. At the time my daughter was three and I was working as a scientist at UC Berkeley. Every morning I would be in a rush to drop her off to pre-school and head to work. And every morning she would ask me literally any question under the sun she could think of. Very early on she had learnt that mommy is a scientist and my “I don’t know” was an unacceptable answer to her. To answer her questions almost every evening I ended up demonstrating a lesson in the kitchen and most often than not it had some scientific involvement. The science at the dinner table became a weekly ritual and exploring answers hands-on and eating the result became the norm. She would soak up the logical scientific information and she started acutely applying them to various everyday life happenings. I thought this phenomenon was too precious not to be shared with the world. Thats when I started StemChef.
Who is your product or service for and how does it benefit them?
StemChef is a philosophy thats on a mission to get kids addicted to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) from a young age. Its for all elementary school kids – no exception! Of course they can get started younger.
When kids (actually anyone for that matter) can apply abstract concepts to their everyday life in a fun way they get drawn very organically to learning more instead of being out off by something that doesn’t interest them and is mandatory. Whats more fun for kids than food especially self-prepared food.
What kind of approximate start-up costs were involved in getting your business from concept to launch mode?
I have invested about $10K-$12K in direct costs with respect to the people, equipment, and material I needed and perhaps another $10K in indirect costs like training, learning and marketing. This doesn’t include the missed opportunity costs but in the long run it might not matter at all 🙂
If you were to start your business all over again what would you do differently?
I would have really taken the time to build my community and connect with people personally before I officially launched my business. After you launch it feels like you are short on time for everything. You don’t have the bandwidth to invest time in building foundational relationships with your community. This goes a long way in the future.
What is one failure you had as a mom entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
I failed to take myself seriously from the very beginning. The biggest problem women have is the lack of self confidence. Every idea I had and every decision I made was always lined with self doubt. I played on the side of over-caution which meant I lost out on many opportunities. I did not put my infant business in a seat of priority which in retrospect was a very bad decision. If you are starting out, your business is literally your baby – it needs to be tended to constantly. Now I know!
Please share two of your favorite online tools/resources and what do you love about them?
I’m synced into multiple facebook groups – it is like my virtual support system and tribe.
I also really like Sparkol – it is a tool that helps you create whiteboard animations and many a times it just brings my own thoughts in a clearer light. Of course you can use it for your business marketing.
1 thing you do for yourself to unwind from it all?
Go for a swim! Besides the obvious surplus oxygen that you get with the activity, I feel transported to a peaceful realm. Its amazing how many out of the box ideas I get while swimming.
StemChef is a new way of teaching kids science through cooking for ages five through ten.
StemChef is on a mission to inspire each and every child to embrace STEM and kick any intimidation of STEM learning to the curb.