Kim Simithraaratchy has co-founded Spice Madam to connect people through good food and the sharing of culture across all borders. By working as a technology consultant, she was able to perfect her skills in problem solving and creating an online presence from day one. From delivering the flavors of the world to your kitchen table to giving back to Cafe Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility that transforms the lives of our most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities, Kim has made an impact in people’s lives with her passion for food. With her sights focused on international consumers in the near future, Spice Madam plans on expanding her reach so other cultures to get a deeper understanding of other countries around the world through their palate.
Tell us about Spice Madam.
Spice Madam is a privately-held, global lifestyle brand dedicated to bringing people together through food. We believe cooking and sharing meals is the most powerful platform for communication, connection and community. Spice Madam curates subscription spice kits featuring a different country’s cuisine every month, conveniently delivered to member’s doorsteps on a monthly basis nationwide. Each kit includes the featured country’s key spices, recipes, cultural information and a music playlist with representative music from that country. My friend Meghana Moya, a fellow foodie and world traveler, and I co-founded Spice Madam over dinner where Meghana brought up the idea for the subscription spice business model. I loved it immediately and came up with the name Spice Madam that night. Spice Madam’s target market is anyone who likes to cook, travel and explore other cultures.
How has working as a Computer Engineer and Technology Consultant prepared you for your role with Spice Madam?
At the end of the day, my work as a technology consultant was about helping companies solve difficult problems. Having worked across many client industries, I am very confident in facing any new problems with an analytical and solution-oriented mindset no matter the context. As an online business, establishing a presence on the Web is critical. I was able to quickly set up a site capable of taking orders and conveying our value proposition. As our needs outgrew our initial hosting platform, I migrated our site to another platform to streamline payment processing and maintenance. My 13 years of technology experience allowed us to get moving quickly without worrying about hiring the right person to help us.
What has be the biggest hurdle transitioning from the technology space to the food industry?
I’ve been involved in the food industry for a long time as an avid consumer, but also in running a cooking blog and producing cooking videos in my spare time. The biggest change in moving over from the technology space has been that I now get to dedicate all of my time to something I am very passionate about. The hardest part is moving from being a part of a company with an established structure and process to owning and directing a brand-new enterprise from the ground up. Through it all, I am continuing to learn and grow in all new directions, and that is the best part of it for me!
What is your proudest accomplishment since the launch of Spice Madam?
Meghana and I came up with the concept for a Travel Spice Kit while on a plane as we returned from a spice research trip in New Orleans and were able to turn it around to launch in five days. We feel pretty proud of that ability to be innovative and nimble as a business!
What was the biggest obstacle while creating Spice Madam and how did you overcome this hurdle?
The biggest obstacle we faced in launching Spice Madam was making the time to get all the necessary elements of the business organized while holding very demanding full-time jobs. When we agreed to pursue Spice Madam together as business partners, we committed to meeting once a week to dedicate time to plan the launch. Our drive to stay the course enabled us to successfully launch Spice Madam one year after we began our weekly meetings.
What are the benefits of working with your business partner Meghana?
As business partners, we are very aligned in our vision of Spice Madam’s mission and core values. This has made the decision-making process very easy since everything we do must support our shared vision for Spice Madam or we just don’t do it. We complement each other very well as one of Meghana’s strengths is her experience working in marketing, finance, and operations at a private equity backed consumer products company and in technology at a leading Fortune 500 company. We both recognize that it’s always great to have two perspectives on an issue and through open communication we arrive at solutions together that abide by our brand’s mission and values. We feed off each other’s energy and passion for what we do and our team’s results benefit from our combined ideas and perspectives.
When a customer receives their box, what would they expect inside?
Each box contains 3-5 spices and 4-6 recipes from the featured destination. You also get a playlist of music from there to set the mood while you are cooking, as well as fun travel tips and cultural facts to give you some context around the food you’ll be cooking and enjoying at the dinner table.
How do you choose which spices you are going to have in your box?
Each month, we go through a process of research on the cuisine of the featured destination. We also bring in our own firsthand experiences from worldwide travel and our international network to ensure we are getting to the heart of the culture. We select recipes and then decide which spices to feature in our curated spice kit. We test all the recipes in the Spice Madam test kitchen to ensure they are doable in the average home kitchen, and we also devise substitutions for members to prepare gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan versions of our recipes to suit their lifestyles.
What are your favorite spices, recipes and why?
Ginger is one of my favorite spices because I love the spiciness and flavor it adds to so many dishes. In addition, it has lots of anti-inflammatory properties that make it really healthy and healing for you.
A favorite ginger recipe would be Vietnamese caramelized pork, where tender pork chunks are braised in a sweet and savory ginger, coconut juice sauce. It’s the comfort food of my childhood!
What is one of your most favorite customer reactions to receiving their box and making the recipes?
One customer shared that he gets together with his dad to cook every month with Spice Madam Spice Kits. I love that we can help bring people together through food.
What is one thing about spices that most people do not know?
Spices have many healthy properties and have been used in eastern medicine for various purposes. In recent years, science and western medicine have started proving what has been known in practices such as Ayurveda for over two millennia.
Where would you like to see Spice Madam in the next five years?
We are working for Spice Madam to be recognized as the easiest way to bring global cuisine to homes worldwide and for bringing people together through food. We have gotten requests for Spice Madam from Brazil and Italy, among other countries, and are working to ship internationally within the next three to five years.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
One of the core values of Spice Madam is to give back to the community. A portion of the proceeds of each box is donated to a nonprofit that supports children and education. Currently, we donate to Cafe Momentum, an organization that provides life skills training and mentorship for at risk teens in a gourmet restaurant kitchen setting. They’re doing amazing work!
Use the code TWIP20 for 20% off your first box!
More facts about Kim:
Personal Mantra: “Let’s Go!”
De-Stress Technique: Dancing and Yoga
Latest Gadget: Travel Spice Kit
Favorite App: Slack
Next Vacation Destination: New York and Bali