Srinagar, Jan 14: Brady Lee, an American citizen, rose to fame on social media in the Kashmir Valley after he began producing apple chips, also known as tsounthachi locally, in Srinagar with a local business.
Brady, who is in his mid-30s, recalled visiting Kashmir a few years ago with his wife to explore and take in the valley's beauty; at the time, they had no idea that they would later launch their own business and stay there for an extended period of time.
“We first hesitated but were interested in seeing Kashmir. We ultimately made the decision to travel here. Finding that Kashmir's climate is somewhat reminiscent to our own was a positive discovery. Kashmir is a lovely place. The majority of the population is kind and welcoming,’’ he remarked.
Brady claims that after visiting Kashmir a few times, he got the notion to launch his own business in the valley after being offered the chance by a valley businessman. He said that several individuals asked him to open a company in Kashmir.
Brady says after visiting Kashmir a couple of times , he came up with an idea of starting his own entrepreneur in the valley as he was offered the same by a valley businessman. He said many people wanted him to set up a business in Kashmir.
Brady, who currently lives at Nishat in Srinagar, said he was offered to join a business in Kashmir as consultants to set up a food processing business.
“We were trying to come up with something that would not just compete with already running local businesses, but would add and increase markets in Kashmir,” he said.
Brady has a degree in agriculture and he was interested in working with farmers in some way. “This is when we started getting the idea about apple chips,” he said.
Brady joined a local company 'Pai Engineering Service, registered for over 20 years now. They wanted to utilize local resources for innovative solutions. With his efforts, it started making apple chips and gave an attractive packaging to the same.
“We are looking into the problem through multiple perspectives. People need sources of employment. There is a need to reduce wastage. of apple fruit. Moreover , we need to have more natural and healthy snack options,” Brady said.
The American entrepreneur said there is a tradition of tsounthachi (dried apples) in Kashmir and people munch on these in winter. “But we wanted to bring in quality and provide a new look to it. We decided to dehydrate the apples in order to preserve the health qualities of the apples (not bake or fry them),” he said.
For him, last year was primarily experimental and they have just started getting into real production of apple chips.
“We hope to utilize several tons of apples each month by the end of this year. Currently, we sell apple chips in many departmental stores and dry fruit stores in the valley. We ship orders throughout India and are working on contracts in several states in India,” he said.
When asked why he chose to work in Kashmir, Brady said, “Americans also like to work abroad at times. If I can do that and do something good by providing jobs to others , I would be more than happy .”
Brady is in Kashmir on a business visa. “Business visas have to be renewed often as per the rules and requirements . I am not sure how long I would be here but we want to ensure a growing and successful business,” he said.
Brady and his wife (also American) wanted to start a venture at an international level as both enjoy traveling and exploring new cultures and places. He said he used to think about entrepreneurship when he was in high school.
“I was interested in international business entrepreneurship and doing business at a place where it would add to the economy, but I actually did not really know much about Kashmir,” he said.
Brady, who has been on and off Kashmir for about three years now, said, “We hope our endeavour to be recognised globally within some years.”
“Our company is willing to consult and help if you are an aspiring entrepreneur. Keep growing, diversify varieties for different reasons, learn ways of integrating best practices both new and old,” he said.
Brady’s family has a finance background and his work experience is numerous which also includes business and facility management. He speaks Kashmiri and his videos have been shared and watched widely on social media platforms with many netizens sending him thumbs up messages.