Jalan was awarded $15,000 to help her grow Masala Mama, a small up-and-coming business based around her experience with Indian food.
Masala Mama makes Indian cooking easy, as Jalan packages all of the traditional spices and ingredients and a recipe into one box, which budding chefs use to make an authentic Indian dinner.
Contestants were required to submit a business model after attending several orientation sessions hosted by the library on issues surrounding starting a small business.
Jalan moved to the United State from Calcutta, and said barring a return to her native India, she couldn’t see herself living anywhere but the borough. “Brooklyn is it,” she said.
After finding a facility and buying the necessary items to create the product, Jalan said her next move was spreading the word about the company. With no experience in that area, Jalan said that she was looking for someone to help her with marketing, but didn’t know how she was going to pay them.
“The money came at exactly the right time,” she said. “$15,000 is much more than zero.”
Jalan said that the information provided at the PowerUp! orientation sessions was helpful, but that no one interacted with anybody. She would suggest making the competition more social.
She went on to explain that when it was down to nine finalists, the sessions became tighter knit and the contestants themselves much closer. “We can support each other,” Jalan said.
To date, the library has given away $250,000 through PowerUp! to local start-up businesses with the help of CitiFoundation, a branch of CitiGroup. The finalists for this year’s competition included a wide range of businesses, from a film production company to an urban farm enterprise.