QUEENS TECH CORNER: Poonam Vasantha Kumar
This week’s featured tech entrepreneur for Queens Tech Corner is Poonam Vasantha Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Saavor.
Tell us a little more about Saavor and how you got your start? Saavor is an SaaS (software as a service) platform that enables seamless management and control of on-campus kitchens at schools and universities. Students use our technology to place orders at campus kitchens via their meal plan cards, credit cards, and debit cards.
We started out as a company that connects home chefs to consumers in their neighborhood, but pivoted during COVID due to the current market conditions. When I was a student in Texas doing my MBA, I missed my mom’s home-cooked meals. But luckily, there was an Indian family near our campus that sold food to students, and that is how I first got the idea. Before I started Saavor, I worked as a lead engineer in the Midwest.
What kind of an impact has COVID had on your company and your services? During COVID, we thought we might be out of business since we lacked resources to move forward. But we pivoted and were able to raise funds via a GoFundMe campaign, through which we were able to serve thousands of meals to front line workers in New York City and New Jersey.
We also applied for several federal government contracts and then got a deal with a university. We are helping students order food from their campus kitchens, and using our platform provides them a safe environment to do so. Moving forward, we hope we can help as many local vendors as possible.
We learned a lot during this whole process. We are lucky that we have a very strong team who were supportive of the mission and vision of our firm.
Why are you excited about the future of tech in Queens? Right now, a lot of tech companies are coming out of Queens. Exciting times! Our community has a lot to offer with its huge diversity of people. Plus, people are more supportive than ever before.
I’d also add that it’s easy to raise funds in New York for an early stage startup firm if you have an MVP (minimal viable product), which is very easy to attain provided you have found your product market fit.