Seema grew up in rural India. Her dad was a doctor who had founded and built the local hospital. Her mum supported him and the family and had a passion for cooking for the family and many visitors. Being innovative by nature, her dad would come up with shortcuts to save his wife time.
The memories are full of love and happiness for Seema, and it is a desire to share this that has brought her to where she is today, aiming to make cooking easier and more fun with her new cookware. But while cooking has been a passion, it has not been her career till now.
Seema married at 21 and had to wait a year for her green card and join her husband in the United States. She studied for a Masters in Marketing at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Seema looked for a career that she could do alongside her Master’s. She chose real estate because she could work in the evenings and weekends. It was commission only, and she quickly discovered it wasn’t as easy as she had expected.
Seema spent twelve years as a real estate broker in the Bay Area, making multi-million dollar sales. Her husband, whom she describes as a brilliant man, supported her throughout. When she first arrived, he told her, “In this country, what you were before doesn’t matter, so you can be what you want.” He asked her if she wanted to be a doctor, but she says she doesn’t like the sight of blood.
During this time, she also had her son. Seema says he too is brilliant and went on to graduate with top honors from Stanford with a Doctoral Degree in Physics, still very young, in 2016.
In 1999, Seema co-founded Trsoft Technologies, the world’s first SaaS Enterprise Cloud Platform in Property Tech. She started the company, and her husband joined her a year later, a perfect combination, she says, of his engineering skills and hers in real estate.
In 21 years, Seema led a team of 100 + engineers and designers and served real estate brokers, large and small, in over 50 states. In doing so, she was one of the pioneers of using chat and web conferencing for product development and remote working with large teams. It also led to being a co-author on many patents in CRM and Property Search. They still have this business, which trades under planetRE, but Seema has been able to step back from her day-to-day role.
Cooking has been her lifelong passion. She has spent many happy hours in bookstores selecting unique cookbooks to add to her vast collection and, she told me, she always read cookbooks or watched cooking videos before she went to sleep. Nearly two years ago, she decided to turn her passion into a cookware business.
Omnipan™ Cookware and Chef Avenue
Seema is now the founder and CEO of what she describes as a disruptor to the food industry.
Seema started Chef Avenue with the intention of producing packaged food. However, she soon learned that in California, it is almost impossible to start a business in food due to the regulations. It was a year and a half after she applied that she had a call saying an inspector would come out. By that time, Seema had already moved on and into the cookware side. By February 2020, she knew exactly what she wanted to produce.
She had the help of her son and his friends for research, observing their cooking and eating habits, and forming a picture of the millennial generation’s needs. Seema’s son has had a lot of input into the new company. She decided to deliver efficient food preparation tools that are cost-effective, time-saving, and environmentally friendly and produce delicious, healthy food.
She worked on the designs for a set of cookware that people can use to produce great food with minimal effort, eliminating unnecessary steps in prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. She wanted it to be possible to use the same pan to cook, store in the fridge, eat from, store left-overs, and pop in a microwave. Millennials don’t like washing up, she found, so the cookware had to go in a dishwasher too. The material also had to be light, so the pan was easy to eat from.
Seema found that her market personae would also tend only to cook a couple of times a week and live off the leftovers in between, hence needing to store and reheat. It has taken her the time to find precisely the right materials and design, and the result is Omnipan.
The cookware is made from food-grade, non-stick silicone, and the designs are patent pending. The cookware is also highly durable, FDA-approved, and chemical-free. It can be used at a temperature of 450°F and then go straight into the dishwasher.
Alongside the cookware, there is an app. which provides recipes graded for skill level. Seema also has nearly finished her cookbook, and many delicious dishes are already on the website. Seema aims to make producing good food frictionless. There is nothing like the Omnipan cookware on the market.
What now for Chef Avenue and Omnipan™ Cookware
March 2021 sees Seema’s Kickstarter campaign’s launch to raise funds to go into production, with products as a reward to early backers. The campaign will be world-wide, focussing on the US, UK, and Europe. The other primary purpose is to raise awareness of this new concept.
While initially, the target market is millennials, Seema hopes to expand to others. We agreed that many of us have been tempted into buying gorgeous looking cookware for our kitchens only to find when we get them home that they are entirely impractical.
Seema is already working on more designs for both the kitchen and barbeques. Omnipan™ Cookware is intended to be only the first of many things coming under the Chef Avenue brand.
Seema has succeeded in diverse industries. She has been through the dot.com bubble, 9/11, 2008 crash, and COVID. She undoubtedly has the will needed to succeed.
Seema says that it has taken her 58 years to start doing what she enjoys the most and what comes naturally to her, and the result is that she can truthfully repeat the Pretty Woman quote, “I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. Don’t you see I am high on life?”
You might also enjoy this story of another Silicon Valley success story.