Ruba Athar | Interview


Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?

I belong to Karachi Pakistan, I have done my former and latter education in the British System O-levels and A-levels in pre medical subjects. After which I completed my BBA Honors in Finance and Marketing from an esteemed business institute of Karachi. I started working in the financial sector at a tender age and have gained over 8 years of experience in this sector and also learnt a great deal about business. my father has always been my teacher and will continue to do so as he is a successful businessman and leading financial consultant. During this course I also started acquiring knowledge on Middle Eastern studies or Religious Studies and last year completed my M.A. In the Middle Eastern studies with first division, now ready to peruse my M.phill in the same field. Since the last three years I've been operating my startup Tools To Bake and currently ive been married to a loving husband and have settled in Islamabad the capital city of Pakistan. My passion is to work actively in the business sector and to help others as well, My startup has been a big part of my life and will be in the future aswell.

Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 

Tools To Bake (TTB)

Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?

Tools To Bake is the pioneer of online stores in Pakistan selling only bake ware goods. We sell both local and imported brands on our website; choose your product, place your order and it will get delivered right at your doorstep. It was founded on the 1st of May 2012, since then it has been working as a strong supplier of bake ware tools all over Pakistan. The main focus is to facilitate and make baking easy, enjoyable and innovative. With just one single initiative of providing bakeware goods TTB branched out into three subsidiary companies;

 TTB Wholesalers- Tools To Bake operates as a wholesaler in order to extend its services to other esteemed organizations in the industry facilitating the field of culinary art by providing ease of access to good quality baking tools available with great ease.

 TTB Culinary art School- In August 2012 Tools To Bake launched its first fully owned subsidiary by the name of “Learn To Decorate”, where we teach new baking skills and techniques and train young bakers to create master pieces.

TTB Ventures- In October 2012 TTB launched its second fully owned subsidiary by the name of “TTB Ventures” where we develop feasibility reports for young entrepreneurs in the industry and help them setup their dream business in the world of culinary art. With the help of our research we give them a cutting edge of how to enter the competitive field of home based bakers.

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?


This venture is a brainchild of three sisters, all three work as the active directors of the company

Ruba Athar
Zahra Athar
Daniya Athar

Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it's competitors, what makes you different?

What is special and different about TTB is that we are heading towards developing a one stop baking solution for all our clients unlike any other existing business of this nature. TTB has bridged the gap between the culinary field in Pakistan and the advancement at which the rest of the countries in the world have reached within this field.

We provide the Pakistani market with the latest baking and decorating equipment available, imported products like Wilton, PME. We share the latest baking techniques, help provide food consultancy to top restaurants and hotels and Innovative ideas to home-based bakers.

TTB aims to help bring forward all the talent our people have where culinary art is concerned. TTB is strongly moving ahead creating opportunities for other entrepreneurs as well as those who have entered this field providing a healthy competition for TTB and lucrative market of bakeware goods. It’s an avenue which allowed the women of Pakistan to present their talents of baking, before TTB there was no such avenue for people who shared the talent of baking and decorating.

Why TTB is indeed a wining model is for the reason that if you study and share our business model it is enough to motivate all those talented men and women in Pakistan who don’t have enough options to set up industries but have enough talent to start off their home businesses which bring about good earnings and which do contribute to the economic flourishing and import export health of Pakistan.  With just a simple idea of making imported American bakeware tools available for people living in Pakistan TTB has opened doors to the culinary field in Pakistan matching international talent and standards. Restaurants, hotels and local bakeries along with home-based bakers and developing culinary schools, get inspiration from TTB.  Not one but atleast 10 other individuals followed TTBs model and have flourishing online businesses in Pakistan selling bakeware goods. Because of TTBs efforts the brand name WILTON an American company is now known by a major niche in Pakistan who are contributing to the culinary division. Many women have been taught the talent of baking professionally and have been given the confidence to setup their baking business. TTB lets home-based bakers use its platform to reach out to the market and publicize themselves and also help these individuals create business models which would facilitate them in the future. With the efforts and contributions made by TTB and the sustainability it has reached, Pakistan’s culinary art industry is indeed heading towards a promising future.

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?

As mentioned earlier this venture is a brainchild of three sisters. Being bakers and having a baking experience of over 10 years the three of us sitting around our kitchen table with just the passion of baking in our heart and smart phones in our hand started this venture. Initially it was started as we saw a gaping hole in the market where culinary goods as in utensils were concerned, tools were not available.  Pakistan being rich in culinary skills was very poor in culinary supplies people who baked were dependent on traveling abroad to fulfill their wish list of items needed to pursue their passion and talent. We saw this gap and filled it up.

Secondly once we had the tools and the expertise it didn’t take us more than half a day to establish a culinary academy to teach enthusiastic passionate students, this further led us helping these individuals establishing their business.

With this research and our educational backgrounds in business, marketing and finance our venture took shape.

Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?

Tools To Bake’s vision is “To operate as an effective wholesaler in order to establish a strong distribution network in the world of culinary arts in Pakistan. To teach new and innovative ideas and to create individuals who are true professionals in the field of baking. To establish young entrepreneurs in the world of baking and to operate the first ever online store of bake ware goods in Pakistan. Our vision helps us to see ourselves as a one stop baking solution for all customers”.

Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?

Initially we started in a niche market for women, housewives, middle to upper class age bracket 30-50 years, but within a span of short time our clients can be found in leading Hotels, Restaurants, culinary art schools, café’s, leading bakeries, social forum’s and other famous home-based businesses which have been setup my TTB itself. In other words TTBs practices gave rise to its own niche market directly or indirectly related to culinary division. TTB has a long list of clientele across Pakistan.

Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?

The key features of my product and service can be understood by the following scenario.
Once you join the “TTB Family” by simply clicking the LIKE button on our Fb-page or by sending in an SMS  as an individual you experience the following benefits;

You now have access to culinary tools from America that is we deal in Wilton products www.wilton.com along with tools from all over Pakistan, China and Korea. You can simply place an order and pay Cash on delivery on receiving your product. You have an option of making your purchase by using the following avenues: Online shopping on www.toolstobake.com you are able to enroll yourself in the 4 courses which take you from being a basic baker and decorator to a professional one giving you a cutting edge in the existing industry.

You sign up at TTB Ventures and get a free feasibility report made for your new business which you have been thinking about for years but have not received any facilitation in order to implement it. Counseling sessions with TTBs team gives you the encouragement and confidence along with the strategy to move forward. We understand your hidden talent and bring it forward. Facilitating you towards your venture. After your business has been setup you are introduced at the platform of TTB in order to market your business and TTB helps you throughout your venture. You are also given an opportunity to display TTB products at your business page in order to share the profit of product selling.

These five stages have created many home-based entrepreneur’s in this period of 3 years and have facilitated many bakeries and restaurants in food techniques. Thus, creating a niche within the business sector of Pakistan. TTB opened doors to the niche market catering to culinary artists and many other small online stores sprung up after TTBs efforts.

TTB also opened doors to food designing and food technicalities about which more and more people are now becoming aware of.

TTB opened the doors to home teaching and decorating we encourage and motivate our students to further teach and spread their talents in order to facilitate more house wives towards entrepreneurship.

Being technologically savvy TTB has educated many housewives to use smartphones for online shopping with great ease. Women who are afraid to use the internet shop online with TTB with great ease and joy

TTB has now started giving off its product franchise to leading bakeries and will continue to do so in order to make state of the art baking products available all over Pakistan.

Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?

I am BBA Honors in finance an MA in Islamic Education, and currently starting my Mphill in fall 2016. Being a daughter of a successful business man and Financial Consultant I have been trained and exposed to the financial market and business trends since a very tender age I have over 10 year of active and passive experience in the field of Business and Finance.

The element which got me interested in startups was the ability to believe in the talents I possessed and the exposure I had attained in my formative years, then effectively utilizing this talent and experience in the right direction with confidence. Startups are packed with falvours of success, starting something from scratch and then actually excelling at it gives you a feeling of self-actualization unlike any other work field.


Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?

TTB has had an eventful 3 years where the growth has been constant and promising.

One of the main achievements was being selected as a top 100 startup company out of thousands by Pakistans First Startup Expo 2015 and then being awarded fist place in the category of “The Best Home-Based Business Of The Year.

TTBs main target was to cater to the culinary division in order to facilitate product availability to culinary artist whether they are home-based or present in the professional culinary industry. And to bridge the gap between the local culinary industry and the foreign industrial practices. And it has been successful in achieving this target. The evidence showing the fulfillment of TTBs targets lie in the following coverage of social and print media.

TTB has been interviewed by a number of social and print medias discussing its achievements targets and goals the list of evidence is as follows.

TTB was interviewed by the famous magazine “Womens own”, discussing its achievements (article is attached with the mail)

TTB was approached my MasalaTV by Shireen Anwars show masala mornings where the achievements and business model were highlighted for a duration of four shows. (pictures can be seen on FB page)

 TTB had a mainpage coverage in Tribune newspaper highlighting the concept of “TTB Teaparty”

TTB was interviewed by Dalda food magazine “Dalda Flavours” to highlight its innovative ideas in the field of culinary arts and now TTB writes a permanent desert column in “Dalda Flavours”, (Articles are attached with the mail)

TTB helped to design and arranged products for National Institute of Culinary arts and hotel management. www.nicahm.com  (information can be provided on request)

TTB was also invited to judge at the famous Karachi Eat food Festival this year in order to share their culinary experience and techniques.(information is present on the internet)

In terms of revenue/profit and market share it is important to know that soon after its inception TTB expanded and branched out into adjacent revenue streams by the name of TTB ventures, TTB culinary art school, TTB wholesalers these three avenues together with the main business of being an onlinestore of bakeware goods brought it a sustainable cashflow and helped TTB spread far and wide across Pakistan.

Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?

Initial investment was made by the three of us out of our own personal savings the goal was to startup with a minimum principal amount and then to generate a rolling investment over the years.

Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).

Being technology savvy the speed of execution; time taken from the general idea to setting up operations to generating revenues, to creating subsidiary companies, is significantly less than most businesses, and so with the help of my website and social media forums the reach was significantly more than if I had used any other form of traction. Another pipeline project would be to make an app for TTB.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?

the biggest challenge as a startup owner is to keep my startup afloat and alive. Startups have a very erratic growth the exponential rate at which they grow they also die at the same rate sometimes even faster, a number of factors are the cause of that death the first one being boredom as it can set in very fast at any given time. The challenge for me has been to fight for my startups survival for atleast the first 5 years. Coming into my third year I have given my startup a steady base and now need to focus on a steady growth curve, once my five year barrier would be crossed my startup would be strong enough to stay afloat and grow.

Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives -- product, people, team, revenue?

If you talk about a year from now the current year that is, I would say my company would look like a solid venture having a very strong base showing a promising future full of immense potential.  I have tapped a market which still needs to be developed, and my focus is to be the pioneer of developing this market. This year 2015 I have already launched a subsidiary company in Islamabad the capital city, and my base company is in Karachi the metropolitan city of Pakistan.
Product wise I see myself expanding into other product ranges as we order selected ranges based on research of growing pastry trends in a years time I want to introduce some new baking trends and want to expand my product range further.

In terms of team for now, I wont be expanding my team but my eyes are set on my brother who would be graduating from Monash University and I feel he has the potential to further uplift this venture.



Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?

TTB is a stable and fast growing business with a lot of opportunities attached to it and many business prospects which are in the pipeline at the moment. We know that TTB operates in a niche which has not been explored before and has not been exhausted but infact is an area having a lot of potential and growth attached to it especially in the coming future.

 Investors who want to invest in TTB would enjoy profits by simply having a cut in the sales on a product item. For eg. TTB already has a customer who buys Tools on wholesale prices, he then keeps a market price for the product this is where we ensure a stable price so that our end consumer does not suffer and makes his sale keeping the profit it makes over his sale. Just as any FMCG market operates.

Apart from this other business prospects are also open to be further discussed as per interest of the investor.

Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?

My advise to all those who want to start a business would be that the first and foremost step before stepping into or starting any venture or startup is to do a proper market research. Spend all your time effort and initial capital at this research as this would be the answer to your success till the very end and also it would give you information about different expansion avenues. Focus on your core team, it should consist of people who you trust and who would stick through you as there would be a lot of rough patches which you and your team would have to pass through. Know your talent, your strength and your weakness, know yourself inside out before making this decision, you don’t have any support net to fall back on its going to be a one man show only. Utilize your references or contacts well, as initially your startup will arise by word of mouth. Erase the fear of competitors from your heart, you will always find someone who has thought of your idea before you. Know that you are different, believe that you are more capable and focus on your niche to break through and then use your hard work to eventually stand out. When boredom sets in fight it and enjoy your work, be happy and passionate about it.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToolsToBake/


Questionnaire was filled by Founder/Owner of Tools To Bake (TTB) - Miss Ruba Athar


Tools To Bake is the pioneer of online stores in Pakistan selling only bake ware goods. We sell both local and imported brands on our website; choose your product, place your order and it will get delivered right at your doorstep. It was founded on the 1st of May 2012, since then it has been working as a strong supplier of bake ware tools all over Pakistan. The main focus is to facilitate and make baking easy, enjoyable and innovative. With just one single initiative of providing bakeware goods TTB branched out into three subsidiary companies;