When did you discover that you want to be a Baker? Where did you get an idea to take online courses?
Sonia Gupta: Baking happened because of a reason. My child is a big-time foodie. His foodiness drove me crazy. No matter how much I tell him that outside baked goodies are filled with preservatives, he will figure out a way to eat them. I was left with no choice to find a solution to it. And baking happened. But when I started sharing my experiments and what I did, I found that it’s not just me. Every mother had the same problem and they were looking for similar solutions.Initially, I started with Hands-on workshops, which I still continue to do. Unlike most of the workshops which are more of demonstration, I only believed in the full hands-on detailed workshop. My goal is not just to take a workshop but to ensure that people are able to replicate the same at their home. Soon I started to realize the limitations of hands-on workshops like:
In the quest of serving as many as I can, I started developing the content of my online courses. With my online courses, I would be able to reach people who geographically cannot attend my physical hands-on workshops.For people who get stuck on dates of my workshop, will still be able to join my online courses. Online courses give them the ability to start, pause, play, rewind and they can do it as many times as they can, unlike the traditional workshop.
You’re a founder of Anybody Cake Bake, what was your vision behind this and how are you making HomeMakers to HomeBaker?
Sonia Gupta: Back in 2015, the idea was only to keep a sanity check on my recipes. With no knowledge of blogging or any business plan behind, I just started with a blog and started sharing my recipes. Initially, I was only posting recipes so that I make a repository of whatever I do. Surprisingly, I saw that many people started liking what I did and that they had the similar challenges that I had, “How to ensure healthy eating for their family”. When more and more people connected with me and wanted me to help them learn baking at home, I started to think the best I could do for them.This got the birth of AnyBodyCanBake. The vision was to ensure that every homemaker gets the ability to start baking at home without using any harmful chemical and preservative and unhealthy ingredient. So I started sharing my experiment on my blog. Created my YouTube Channel and started with my workshops. When I teach, I ensure that I am transmitting the knowledge with transparency backed with a support system that encourages them to bake at home. I was never interested in just conducting the workshop and then forget about it. People appreciated the effort, content, and support and thus my mission “HomeMakers to HomeBakers”.
How different is it to take a workshop online as compared to baking in an event like the one you did for LG on Women day?
Sonia Gupta: Online workshops have a different problem to solve. Since there no physical proximity it is challenging to keep the students encouraged and engaged.Before starting the online courses, we did a lot of research and found that the completion rate of an online course is just 3%. I was highly demotivated with that because my goal was not to have people enrolled but to ensure that they are replicating what they learn.My husband, Amit, who works full time with me, had something in his mind and he encouraged me to the idea of 30DaysBakingChallenge. Fortunately, we have our own success recipe to that and our course completion rate between season 1 and 2 is 73.4%. Just so you know we had 447 people collectively in both the season. The third season is going tostart on 3 rd May 2020.Hands-on workshop on the other side is not new to me, I started with them only. However, the event with LG on Women day is a different experience than a self-hosted workshop.Unlike in a self-hosted workshop, where people are joining for the reason of learning baking and they already know or would have known about you before coming to the workshop, LG workshop meant talking to an audience which might or might not know you at all.When you are aware that in the audience there are people who might not have done baking at all, and that they might not know you so far, the responsibility was big. I was to ensure that everybody comes to the same platform before we begin to do the recipe. Fortunately, some people already knew me and one of the attendee happened to be my 30DaysBakingChallenge student, things got a little easier.But the experience was just great. Speaking with an audience and keeping them hooked to your conversation is a great experience in itself.
Do you think that home bakers can upside down the bakery industry in the near future and how has the baking world empowered women?
Sonia Gupta: Home bakers are and will continue to create disruption in the regular baking industry, provided they take home baking serious and not as a second priority in their life. I meet a lot of home bakers and I see that more than 80% of home bakers start their business becausetheir friends and family told them to do so.It could be a great point to start, however, the business still needs to be dealt like a business. There has to be a proper business plan, marketing and positioning strategy, and a vision to succeed in business.Because most of the home bakers do not focus on all the business aspect and they only focus on their baking, most of the home bakers struggle to find paying customers. Baking has empowered women to stay at home and still able to build their career. It has enabled them to take care of their kids as well as make money and become independent.However, if the keep the business aspect in consideration and focus on that too, they will make it really big and will certainly upside down the bakery industry in the near future.
As a founder of Indias first and biggest 30 Days Online Baking Course, tell what important instruction do you provide in this course and why it is so popular among emerging bakers?
Sonia Gupta: First of all thanks to you to recognize 30DaysBakingChallenge in that way. Secondly, I challenge you to find an equivalent course, not just in India, but across the globe. I can challenge, not with ego, but with confidence, because before launching this course, we had almost 6 months of research and brainstorming on it. We wrote down our goals. Our goals were Create a course that has value for everyone in baking, literally everyone. It should be pocket friendly. It should be online so that everyone can take benefits of it. It should cover the science of baking and not just recipes (for just recipes, I have my blog).It should not become a dormant course like every other online course. Industry-standard completion rate of an online course is just 3%.It should ensure that people are learning and we are able to test it.It should have excitement for people that they stay active in it.Did we have the answer, No.But then we conceived the idea of 30DaysBakingChallenge. Not only 30 exclusive recipes that covered the wide array of baking including muffins, cupcakes, cakes, basic frosting with whipped cream and chocolate ganache, pie, tart, blondie, brownie, cookies, bread, buns and many more, it also included 30 lessons on baking science.We ensured that it is priced aptly to encourage everyone to learn. And to make the learning complete, we give lifetime support.We decided to do a 30-day marathon instead of just an online course that you get access and do it at your own will. The 30-day marathon ensures that people are staying alive for those 30 days and we stay hyperactive in those 30 days in the support group to respond to queries as quickly as possible.This brings the momentum to the course when people are able to get support almost like realtime. Amit adds a lot of fun and humour to the group and our participation level in those 30 days is around 50%. 50% of the batch people bake all the recipes with us within those 30 days. Around 40% of people participate in weekly assignments and earn the certificate.We have contests, prizes and a lot of other goodness in this program. And the love shows up in the reviews people leave for us on our Facebook page.This course is a live example of my strong belief in serving people. When your intentions are honest, people get the same vibes and they feel it. I feel proud when people talk about our course in various forums and recommend it to others.
The first season started on 1 st Sept 2019 with 359 people on-board. We delivered the season 2 in Feb 2020 and now gearing up for Season 3 scheduled in May 2020.
What trends do you see in desserts?
Sonia Gupta: People are changing, so is their needs. For Indians, dessert meant Kheer, Payasam, Phirni etc. But gradually we have seen the definition of desserts shifting towards cakes, muffins, pancakes etc. The trend of eating sugar in desserts is not moving towards eating chocolates in desserts. And all this means is that Home bakers are going to be more and more occupied and in demand.
You’re an active YouTuber do you think social media has helped people to learn more and to reach to potential customers?To be honest, I haven’t really given the time and attention to YouTube as I should have. I was extremely business with the content creation of my courses. Starting May 2020, I am going to come up with a series on YouTube and my focus will be to strengthen my channel with a lot of value addition to the baking community.Social media has touched every life and learning has become possible for everyone who has internet. Social media, if used wisely, can open the doors of your creative side of thinking.And for a marketer, social media is 80% of their strategic work. Whether it is building business connections (LinkedIn), or talking your heart out to likeminded people (Facebook and Instagram) or find young age audience interested in your vertical (TikTok), social media is the place to find your audience and potential customers.The game is simple. Connect with your target audience, provide value, build trust, they will become your customer eventually.
Sonia, you do so many things.. You’re a baker, influencer, YouTuber, recipe developer and a blogger. Tell us what you enjoy doing the most and why?
Sonia Gupta: I enjoy the moment when somebody pings me back and says “I was able to bring a positive difference in their life”. If you carefully look at all the things you just mentioned, they are all deeply connected with my goal of making a positive change in somebody’s life.The positive changes I am striving to make in people’s lives especially women:They get the ability to make their child eat what they want by replacing unhealthy with healthy.They get the ability to stop entering harmful chemicals and preservatives in their child body.They learn a skill that enables them to become independent and that can make money for them.So anything that leads me closer to my goals, I enjoy doing that.
“Bakery world is not only about cake and cupcakes”, please tell us how to justify this statement and what is the most unknown bakery item?
Sonia Gupta: Baker was the term used for people who baked bread. For cake and cupcakes, people are known as cake artists. But generally, when people think about a baker, they think about cakes and pastries.While bread is something that people consume on a daily basis, it is one of the most underrated items.Most unknown bakery item, to me it’s a Chapati. Not many people really understand that making chapati is also a form of baking and that Indians have been baking for years and years.
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