Salud days

June 19, 2022

Lahore-based Muhammad Harris has expanded his startup Daala to deliver “customised” homemade salads at your doorstep

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The usual ingredients. — Photos: Supplied


n this day and age, innovation is the buzzword. The need to solve problems is often what paves the way for growth and innovation. Indeed, such is the case with Muhammad Harris, the founder and CEO of Daala, a Lahore-based startup that offers the facility of booking vehicles for carrying supplies from one place to another, who has recently launched a co-business venture, interestingly named Salud.

Harris hails from a family where most people didn’t receive any formal education. His father is in the wholesale business of vegetables at Sabzi Mandi in Lahore. Harris became the first person in his family who studied at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) to become an engineer and later pursed philosophy and law at the University of the Punjab. On the side, he was helping with his father’s business.

He says that in Pakistan, the logistics of supplying goods to the local markets are extremely messy: “The suppliers have the contacts of truck drivers who have to supply the vegetables. If one of them is unavailable this can lead to problems in arranging a replacement on a short notice.” One odd incident of delayed delivery caused Harris to reassess the situation and think up a solution. Next, he went about surveying the major markets of Lahore to see how common the problem was. He found that the problem was faced by even by those in the major markets in Lahore, including Urdu Bazaar and Shah Alam.

Harris wanted to create a platform that would “make lives simpler for both the supplier and the retailer.” Soon, Daala came into existence. This was some two years ago. Harris claims that through the Daala mobile app “you can book rides to pick up and drop off supplies.”

Daala went beyond making things more efficient for businesses. An average user could use the service to transport bulky items from their residence or workplace that were too difficult to be transported via urban vehicles. While this was already being provided by other services, Daala brought some innovation. To quote Harris, “For the first time in Pakistan, we offered to insure the items being transported, even if the travel time was very short, like 30 to 40 minutes.”

Harris wanted to make his startup unique by giving it some personality. He says that those who drive the vehicles are called “Lalas.” “In Pashto, Lala means ‘brother,’ and it’s a respectful form of address.” Their slogan, “We move your load,” is also quite catchy.

Unfortunately, despite its potential, Daala hit a snag. Lack of funding from investors meant that Harris could not mount the business on a significantly large scale, nor market it as effectively as he wanted to.

The setback did not dishearten Harris who had already started thinking about his next project. He says he had been noticing an increasing number of stalls outside restaurants and on roadsides “which sold fresh salad that was anything but fresh.” He hit upon the idea of starting the business of home-made salad boxes that would be delivered at your doorstep. He named it Salud. “It’s a Spanish word meaning bon apetite. We often hear it in shows like Money Heist. I felt that this could be a good name for the startup,” he says.

The chefs wear gloves when preparing salads

Salud is a subscription-based service, where people can sign up for weekly or monthly service and decide how often they want the salad delivered to them. The consumers can also order salads that are customised to their preferences.

Again, Harris didn’t jump into this without doing his homework. “I asked around, among my friends especially, and realised that this kind of a service would suit the working women in particular,” he adds. “When they return home from work, many don’t have the energy and time to prepare salads. A ready-made salad box should come in handy.”

Men in their 30s and 40s are another target audience — “Those who go to offices, if they require something to munch on, especially in lunch hours and want to avoid unhealthy food or are conscious of their weight etc, a salad box made with fresh, raw vegetables is just what the doctor ordered.”

Salud is a subscription-based service, where people can sign up for weekly or monthly service and decide how often they want the salad delivered to them. The consumers can also order salads that are customised to their preferences.

In any such venture, hygiene is of paramount importance. Harris claims that the entire setup in their home kitchen is clean, and the chefs wear aprons and gloves when preparing salads. “We also use food-grade cutting boards and cutlery. Lemon juice and vinegar are used for salad dressing which also help kill bacteria. I am sure the [hygiene] aspect will prove to be our USP,” he says.

The salad boxes are transported in ice boxes to keep them cold, but over time Harris plans to expand to the Cold Chain Temperature Controlled system in which the salad boxes would be transported inside fibre glass boxes with gel layers that will control the temperature.

Harris currently manages the business from his residence in Hassan Town on Multan Road. The orders mostly come from his acquaintances, but he is hopeful that good word will spread.

He also hopes that given sufficient investment and time Salud has the potential to reach greater heights. “Currently our business model is one of B2C (business to customer) where we have a mobile app for people to order customised meals for themselves. Our next goal is to implement B2B (business to business), and you will see freezers with our products at some of the major grocery chains in the city.”

A bright young man, Harris is also keen to inspire other people looking to launch their own startups. He has a word of advice: “Innovation in business is the key. It is required, especially in a country like Pakistan where we need to provide the customers with what they want by making things simpler and easier for them. A successful business should aim to do that.”

The writer is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at NUST. He can be reached at

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