Bengaluru seems to love 'Roti Lady' Manasmita Patra's phulkas and it all started on WhatsApp

Along with Manas Ranjan, Manasmita Patra started Fresh Phulka which handles as many as 12,000 orders per day
Patra came to Bengaluru in 2009 and co-founded Quick Shape. Before that, she was studying in New Delhi
Patra came to Bengaluru in 2009 and co-founded Quick Shape. Before that, she was studying in New Delhi

Born in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha but currently based out of Bengaluru, Manasmita Patra is as grateful to Bengaluru for giving her wings as she is to Jagatsinghpur for giving her roots. It's these wings that have flown her all the way up to cloud 9, as she celebrates nine months of her start-up Fresh Phulka. This start-up, which she co-founded with Manas Rajan, supplies freshly made phulkas, just as the name implies, and undertakes as many as 12,000 orders per day. "When I spoke to women I know, I learnt that kneading the dough for phulkas is very time-consuming and something that a lot of women dread. So here we are, providing them with the whole product, instantly," says Patra. She also adds that despite the fact that South India is a hub for rice, problems like diabetes and the threat of lifestyle diseases has increased the demand for phulkas in the region.  

When Patra broadcasted the first message on a WhatsApp group regarding Fresh Phulka, she did not receive a response for three days which crushed her. But on the third day, an order came in from the neighbouring building 

Though Patra was unwell when we reached out to her for a chat, she gladly obliged and doesn't forget to state the main purpose of the start-up, something that even Subroto Bagchi, the Chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority, did not fail to mention in his tweet about her, "Aside from starting something of my own, my other aim was to help employ and provide a livelihood for underprivileged women," says the 36-year-old. What started in her own kitchen with her maid and herself is now based out of a 960 square feet facility on Halur Main Road in Bengaluru and employs 17 women. 

Roti, kapda, makaan are the three basic needs of every human. I thought to myself, let me at least take care of one of them

Manasmita Patra, Co-founder

Fresh Phulka also offers a wide variety of phulkas, everything from ghee phulkas to carrot chapathis. "Of course I had my own challenges when I started, but today, people know me as the 'Roti Lady'," she smiles and informs us of how, when she was starting out, she leveraged the power of WhatsApp groups to get the word going about her start-up. Proud of herself, Patra delivered the first order herself and in the first month of Fresh Phulka, supplied 300 phulkas

Both B2B and B2C orders are undertaken by Fresh Phulka, which was registered in January 2018. While seven women work with them full-time, ten women work on a rotational basis in four-hour shifts

As a part of her research for Fresh Phulka, which is currently on Zomato and will be on Swiggy soon, Patra not only tried phulkas from several restaurants in the city, something that she does till date, but also compared the prices they are being supplied at. While her base price is Rs 8, the 37-year-old informs us that restaurants usually price phulkas anywhere between Rs 12-18. Not only this, she also got together with two interns from Mysuru University to formulate a special multi-millet atta made from as many as 18 kinds of millets. She tells us that they source their own wheat from vendors in Punjab and Jaipur and even mill the grains themselves. And when they receive orders for big events, they make sure to inquire about the menu so that they can recommend the appropriate kind of phulka. It is probably this attention to detail that is making Patra's start-up unstoppable and makes us wish we were in Bengaluru just to try one of her soft phulkas.

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