Meet Latha Sabbam – a happy-go-lucky person with 12 years of work experience as Manager Operations in HSBC and 2 years of work experience as a Human Resource Analyst in an Art Gallery in the USA. Now she is an incubatee in IIM Bangalore, NSRCEL. Latha is the Founder of CocoaBuzzz – a farmer’s journey in Andhrapradesh, India. They grow 8 different crops and right now they are doing value addition by creating cocoa seed-to-table products like cocoa nibs and pure dark vegan spread made out of cocoa, coconut, and organic jaggery.
They focus on Plantation, Practice, and Produce. Creating an eco eco-friendly local supply chain and growing fresh and healthy food helps create stronger and healthier neighborhoods. Cocoa nibs are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and regular consumption of nibs help to reduce stress, improve immunity, and has many other health benefits. Cocoa is not just for happy chocolates, it also brings positive change in your inner health.
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Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Latha Sabbam: Seed-to-table experience is complicated but really amazing to step into. As farmers, we grow the cocoa crop which takes 3 to 5 years to grow and only then you get your harvest. This first step teaches you to have more patience with nature and the flowing climate. Right now we launched our startup company CocoaBuzzz which is very eco-friendly. Customers are happy to see the traceability of the crop, quality of use, above all the value assurance we give to them. We have grown the crop, created two products for the consumers: the cocoa nibs and pure dark vegan spread, and are working on a few more new products like cocoa nutritive drink and avocado flavored cocoa bites. Networking with farmers and living close to nature is giving us true joy and satisfaction. My journey flipped from a 32 storied corporate building to open farms and community. It is totally worth the journey.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Latha Sabbam: We meet people in life for a reason. I totally believe in that. In this journey my father-in-law’s blessings and support from my mother-in-law and husband made me move in this direction.
Initially, I never showed any interest in this sector and was totally reluctant to focus on hearing about plants and trees. I felt it is hard work under the sun, dirtying hands in the mud, with low income, and many other reasons that flashed my mind and I avoided the topic for long. Last year it so happened that I was selected for the women entrepreneurship program in IIMB, NSRCEL and we were top 100 women in India who got that opportunity and that journey changed my mindset totally, made me more confident, optimistic, and willing to make a difference in my life and in the community. I am equally grateful to all my professors and mentors for their constant knowledge sharing and support and for the vibrant peer group who make us be on our toes.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Latha Sabbam: My observation with startup entrepreneurs is they give up halfway through the journey because they feel demotivated, lack emotional support from family, and they overthink.
My suggestion would be to love yourself first, take accountability for self-care and stability of mind and figure out what you want to do with your life very clearly, please write down on paper if that helps, and with that clarity plan out well and work hard, have smart goals and kick the fear out of you.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Latha Sabbam: Resilience for me is to let go of the past troubles and move on, but keep the lessons it has taught to make better decisions and make good moves in life. We can tune our head, not nature. So going with the flow of life and helping others in my capacity is what I do.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Latha Sabbam: Mission, Vision, and Values all 3 are equally important for my organization. Mission defines the purpose, vision reflects the future direction of the org and values sets expectations as to how people should work specifically in this organization.
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Latha Sabbam: My core strength is being professional, focusing very well on what they say, and understanding it well. That helps me to build better rapport with them and be an excellent team player. Of the knowledge I have I share all the best practices at work and learn while I earn.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Latha Sabbam: Branding is the key as it builds trust, recognition, loyalty and leaves a lasting impression on the consumers in the society. At the same time, It is very fragile as it takes loads of time and energy to build but there is scope for a quick fall if the leader is not cautious about maintaining the brand reputation.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Latha Sabbam: I like the transformational leadership style as it gives huge scope for improvement and innovation. We need to bring in innovation with changing times for the benefit of the organization, consumers, and community.
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Latha Sabbam: Starting a business now is relatively doable as internet technology is available at the tip of your fingers which gives loads of knowledge sharing resources, you can build networks with people, economical options of investment, and many more. You can do wonders with it.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Latha Sabbam: “Luck is not a business model” is one of the quotes I like. Exploring and figuring out ways are part of who I am.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Latha Sabbam for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Latha Sabbam or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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