All rise for The Baker’s Dozen story

March 31, 2024

Here’s a story of a first generation entrepreneur who broke bread in a completely new industry and took fresh bread to several Indian homes.

The path was set for Aditi Handa, whatever happened, she knew one thing for sure — she was going to start her own business. Years later, when she returned to India from Canada, little did she realise that she would end up taking fresh bread to thousands of customers’ homes through her brand — The Baker’s Dozen. 

In 2012, Aditi and her partner Sneh decided to bring authentic bread to Bombay. 14 years later, with their second round of successful funding, they now deliver bread and other baked goods across India. 

How did someone with a Master’s in HR end up in the business of bread? This is the story of how Aditi and her partner Sneh built a baking empire and how Swiggy helped bind all of this together. 

Starter dough

After she completed her Master’s in London, Aditi returned to India to start her college merchandise store at the IIM Ahmedabad campus in 2009. “In 2010, I got married to Sneh and we moved to Canada for eight months for his project. We were always on the lookout to start our business, we would go to different trade fairs and this was across different industries, not just food,” says Aditi.

Aditi Handa.
Aditi Handa.

While in Canada, Aditi couldn’t work because she was on a tourist visa. “But I was getting bored and that was when I noticed an internship with a Lebanese chef. That was my first introduction to food in a business setting,” she says.

Thrust in a world that was fairly new to her, Aditi got to learn the tricks of the trade. She explains, “He was a very involved chef. He wanted to make everything authentic and spent a lot of time training me. He taught me how to make good hummus, pita bread and more. I believe that when we’re exposed to such authenticity, it gets engraved in our DNA and pushes us to make more authentic food.”

Post her partner’s Canada stint, the couple were still on the lookout to start their own business when they returned to India. “We met with a lot of people across the country and businesses. We wanted to learn their story and also find a gap in the market. It was during one such meeting when we realised that there was a huge gap in the bread-making business in India. Bread is consumed by people across different socio-economic backgrounds. But there was no authentic bread here. So we decided that one of us would need to study the nuances of bread-making,” says Aditi, who went to study at the French Culinary Institute in New York, which had a dedicated bread-baking programme.

During her programme, Aditi fell in love with bread-making. “The way the dough ferments, the way it rises, the simplicity of it, the humbleness of it. I was very clear that I didn’t want to make cakes. I just want to make authentic bread and sell it all over Bombay,” says Aditi, who started The Baker’s Dozen’s kitchen in December of 2012 as a subscription business. 

Today the business might have completed a second round of funding, but the beginning was not always a cakewalk.

“We didn’t have a store and our first kitchen was between the Wadala and Dadar station. We identified five really good complexes in central Bombay. where we knew there was a very high premium target group. Somehow we ended up finding a friend in each complex. So we would go to our friend’s building with a crate full of about 300 samples, knock on every door and tell people that we recently started a bakery. We would give them the bread samples and tell them to call us and place an order if they liked it. Sneh and I did this door-to-door since we had no money for a sales team,” says Aditi.

That plan paid off massively. “We started getting great feedback and improvised our products based on that. Eventually, these customers became our first investors and when we opened our first store we invited them all,” she adds.

On a (bread) roll

So how did the association with Swiggy happen? “I think we onboarded around 2015. Back then we were just a store, but when we partnered with Swiggy, we got added as a restaurant. We were so surprised to see how many wanted to order a loaf of bread!”

When Sushmita Sambhi took over the The Baker’s Dozen, she knew the challenge that lay ahead. “I wondered how we can help a brand like this grow more on Swiggy since they cater to a very niche market. My first thought was if they’re only selling bread then what are they doing on Swiggy, back then there was no Instamart to house their products. But it was only after speaking with the founders, did I understand what they wanted to do and we then put together a plan to grow their business on Swiggy.”

Sushmita Sambhi, Swiggy's account manager.
Sushmita Sambhi, Swiggy’s account manager.

What was working very well for The Baker’s Dozen was that their repeat customers rate was very high. “So instead of applying a blanket plan to all their customers’ we decided to customise their discount plans to attract new customers,” explains Sushmita who also suggested that the team introduce gift boxes during festive seasons. 

The Baker’s Dozen has a strong fan base, “But when I took over the account I realised that they needed help with menu curation. I also introduced their brand to a Buy One Get One (BOGO) offer. That helped the brand massively. We also started a Wild Wednesday campaign where we ran a BOGO offer, this helped them increase their daily sales,” she says. 

The Baker's Dozen also has a variety of cookies on their menu.
The Baker’s Dozen also has a variety of cookies on their menu.

Within a short period The Baker’ Dozen’s popularity grew on Swiggy. Aditi says, “Because of Swiggy, we were able to be present in every nook and corner. Since we didn’t have our delivery fleet, Swiggy made it easier to take our products across the city. So I think customers found it very easy.”

From 2012 to 2024, The Baker’s Dozen has come a long way. Whether it is their offline or online success, they are set on making sure India gets to eat authentic bread. 

 As they expand their business, here’s a toast to their future.

Author Bio

Priyanka Praveen leads content for Swiggy's Employer and Talent Branding team. She comes with 11 years of writing experience having worked for Indian and International news organisations. She loves story-telling, is an avid embroidery artist and a wannabe baker.

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