Becoming an entrepreneur by accident

Nov 10, 2021 | Colleen O’ Connell-Campbell


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Nita Tandon became an entrepreneur almost by accident. She joined “I’m a Millionaire! So Now What?” to talk about leaving pharmaceutical science to become a mom, and how her quest for more eco-friendly solutions led her to found a company. It all started when Nita tried to find lunch containers that weren’t just BPA free, but free of bisphenol F (BPF).

 

She quickly realized that Canada lagged behind the rest of the world when it came to banning hormone-disruptive chemicals. BPA was banned, but only in baby bottles. Meanwhile, BPA-free packaging just substituted one hormone-mimicking chemical for another (BPF). What Nita wanted was containers that were easy to use, clean and store, while being good for people AND the environment. When she couldn't find what she was looking for, she created it.

 

Nita launched Dalcini Stainless in 2015 and now creates a range of sustainable homeware handmade in India, using traditional methods like hand buffing and manual folding. On this episode, she shares:

 

How she started a company just so manufactures would take her seriously

 

“When I needed to find a solution, I went back to what I had as a child. In India, stainless steel is very common. But when I wanted to create stainless steel containers, no one would take me seriously. I would call these different manufacturers and say: ‘Can I buy this? Or can I have this? Then I thought, let me just go register a company, so I can send an email from me as a company, then maybe they’ll listen to me. And well, it worked. But it also was the start of a company.”

 

The marriage of dreams and design

 

Dalcini Stainless has diversified from lunch box containers to houseware and can be found in many major retailers across Canada. Design is a key differentiator. We’re in a lot of small stores, like mom-and-pop sort of independent stores, across Canada, and now in the US as well. We are slowly growing into Europe, and we’re excited about the online distribution channel as well, direct to consumer. I do think the real sell is when people get to see the product. Because when people see it, that's when they really buy into it.”

 

Creating an outsourced team

 

During the pandemic, growing the team wasn’t an option, and as a startup, you need to watch your expenses. Dalcini Stainless grew their support externally with an outsourced team. “I have a chief financial officer, my bookkeeper, my marketing team that's virtual, they're not in house. Finding the right match was really important, along with the understanding that there are times when I’m going to need a lot of help and times where I don’t need as much. I attribute much of our success to the work that I did with the CFO.”

 

To exit or not to exit?