Daammee, which was founded almost a year back, as a lockdown enterprise, is keen to prove to the world that there is more to the Darjeeling hills than tea and tourism. Essentially marketing local favourites from the Darjeeling hills, they also offer Nepalese and north eastern specialties.
Kurseong-based founder, former journalist, Snjog Datta, talks about how he founded Daammee and why.
What does Daammee mean? How did you start?
Dammee is a Nepali word, it translates to a superlative form of good. We started during the lockdown in May, 2020.
Initially, when I used to browse eCom stores, I found all that was mostly available online from our side of the world was tea, which is of course a primary identity but Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong have much more to offer apart from tea and tourism.
Soon after the lockdown was announced last year, I started getting feelers that the cottage industries in the hills were facing economic duress; some of the families in the remote areas had nothing on their plates. I began thinking what if we could give a pan-India platform so that their goods get a market. We discussed the idea with some of the manufacturers and food producers.
Thankfully, the logistics system was allowed to operate, which helped us start off immediately.
How does Daammee operate?
Our focus lies on the cottage industries of the region. We buy them straight from the manufacturer and bring it to our warehouse where it goes through a strict quality check. And then we pack and ship all over India. Apart from the products, our packaging is one of our most appreciated facets.
What are the products that Daammee offers? What are your food specialties?
We are offering a whole range of products from the hills, from food to prayer objects to decor, a little of Nepali cultural wear, the list has been growing almost every week.
In short, we offer a wide variety of food items - from dallay (the famous round chilly) to Chinese sausage (lap cheong) to gundruk to smoked pork to dry beef to mutton pickle to axone (kinema) to chhurpi cheese, thukpa and glass noodles.
We source the products primarily from Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong but ship them across India.
We started with selling cold cuts (chicken, mutton, buff and pork) for the Siliguri area and have now extended the same to Kolkata.
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Daammee has made quite a name for itself in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. How did you achieve it in such a short time?
I think our customer-first approach has contributed to most of it. Our main client base is from the metro cities where such items are not available.
Also, almost all our products undergo a thorough quality check. Our suppliers are very supportive since the inception. I have to admit that there have been minor lapses here and there, but, we have been continuously evolving and upgrading to make things daammee, literally, for our valued customers.
What are your plans for expansion? Daammee has already entered the Kolkata market. Will you have a local base or will the products be delivered from Darjeeling and Kalimpong?
As far our products are concerned, we ship all over India. When it comes to the cold cuts, initially we were delivering only in Siliguri. We have expanded to Kolkata since March this year, where we deliver the items within 24-48 hours once the order is placed.
We have our eyes on other states of India as well, and are continuously looking for like-minded partners.
You started your career as a journalist, right? How does it feel to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, in the past I've worked for media houses in and outside India, and led newsrooms as well. As an entrepreneur, I don't think much has changed for me. Earlier I used to chase stories, nowadays I chase suppliers so that our product base increases. We are a very small team so it's all hands-on for everybody.
But what brings satisfaction is the fact that our customers bring smiles on the faces of those families who reside in remote areas of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong - maybe these people have not been able to visit Chennai or Bengaluru or Mumbai but their products have reached more than a thousand households in these cities.
Anything that you would like to add for our readers.
It was International Women's day a few days back, so I have to mention here that more than 70 per cent of our suppliers are women, and are very talented.
We will be launching our app very soon. Consumers can always connect with us on www.daammee.in. We don't have a big marketing budget to place billboards or newspaper ads so bank on our patrons and word of mouth publicity. We promise to give our customers the best experience from the hills, at your doorstep.