StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.
India is known for its diverse and flavorful street food, with each region offering its own unique dishes and flavors. Among them, kulcha is a popular street food and a staple of North Indian cuisine. It is a type of leavened bread that is traditionally made with a mixture of refined flour, yogurt, and ghee.
In India, street food is a popular and integral part of the country's food culture, and it is widely available in cities and towns across the country. With the growing popularity of street food and the increasing demand for quick and affordable food options, it is likely that the street food industry in India will continue to grow in the future.
However, it is important to note that the growth of the street food industry in India may be impacted by various factors, such as food safety concerns, competition from other food businesses, and government regulations. According to a report published in Business Standard, India's food service market is expected to reach $79.65 billion by 2028.
For this Interview, we invited, Manas Wadhwa, founder of क se Kulcha and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the food industry.
StartupTalky: Manas, what does your company do? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?
Manas: Amidst covid and its dynamic temper people are inevitably missing finger-licking, spicy street food. Interestingly, "क se kulcha" found the key to the stumbling block without weighing heavy on your pockets. Where ‘Good and Healthy Food’ comes along with the taste, the place is no other than क se kulcha!
Our object of the exercise is to bring the essence from the streets of India, the taste you can’t impede right into your plate and in your slice of the budget. After the hammer-like hit of Covid 19, we came across the reluctant nature among the masses where they wanted to enjoy street spices like before the new normal came into existence but the agitation of getting infected was honest to goodness high or the cost of falling sick was such that they are forced to avoid their liking in this sphere. Keeping this thought in mind "क se kulcha" was born, with almost 100 dishes to choose from, so you don’t have to stay aloof from your most liked street kulchas.
StartupTalky: What is/are the USP/s of your products?
Manas: Rich aromatic gravies, spicy vegetable stir-fries, moist and tender slow-cooked meat, and sinful desserts each dish shut a unique and different flavor at K se Kulcha but among all, Multigrain Kulcha with delicious mouth-watering chole holds a favorite spot in most people’s hearts.
Our Unique Selling Product (USP) is the multigrain kulcha bread which is served along with delicious, smokey Punjabi-style chole. We also offer varieties of kulcha that are not just healthy and tasty but also rich in essential nutrients. Our field professionals, working behind the screen (in the kitchen) make sure to maintain a healthy balance of ingredients. Options in Kulcha bread are most liked by the consumers, as traditionally it is made with flour but at क se kulcha we offer 5 distinctive bread options that are tasty and healthy. For instance, we have multigrain kulcha, whole wheat kulcha, herbs kulcha, and likewise.
StartupTalky: How has the food industry changed in recent years, and how has your company adapted to these changes?
Manas: There has been no journey if it was challenging yet enjoyable. Recently, a change in consumer demand for vegan options has been observed. Increasing demand will be met across the industry with new items on the menus, and an attempt to offer vegan and plant-based dishes as a staple and not as a limited option for those with alternative diets.
StartupTalky: How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the food industry?
Manas: Our R&D team actively works on observing the latest taste and preferences of the consumers which further helps us in keeping up in the competitive environment. We maintain close relations with our team members and offer refresher courses to sharpen team skills. Web organizes periodic workshops in coordination with the best trainers in the industries to stay updated. Other than this we constantly upgrade our services and menu observing the customers’ feedback.
StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check the company's growth and performance?
Manas: I keep a close check on KPIs like sales, labor cost, food cost or cost of goods, and turnover rate as it shows how the restaurant is doing over time. Food is a substantial cost for any restaurant. One good way to keep food costs under control is by tracking your food cost percentage. High staff turnover is another challenge, so keep an eye out for ways to decrease the costs of labor while increasing retention.
StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges your company faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?
Manas: The main challenge we faced while establishing this concept of क se kulcha, was to find the right field professionals. Usually, on the streets, we see a stall serving a particular kind of dish but here, we have a plethora of dishes to choose from and find chefs who were trained enough to bring out the traditional flavors along with trying out new combinations was the greatest hurdle we faced while establishing this outlet.
StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth hack which you pulled off.
Manas: In today's time, to cope and excel in a highly competitive environment one has to stay up to date. We understand that social media plays a vital role in both building a brand presence and staying updated and here, at क se kulcha we collaborate with several food bloggers from time and time to maintain relevance amid the changing food trends.
We are also present across various social media platforms like Instagram, and Facebook that provide us with knowledge of the newest food trends. Lastly, customer feedback is a major source of information that motivates us to always do better and be at our best.
StartupTalky: What are the important tools and software you use to run your business smoothly?
Manas: For the success of a restaurant, it’s imperative to stay technically updated, and we at क se kulcha have always equipped us with the latest and most effective technology applications. For instance, installation of point-of-sale software for guest billing, customer database, in cashier cage. The cage is also the center point for handling all phone calls and mail. Furthermore, the kitchen is divided into four parts: the receiving dock, storage (dry, fresh, temporizer controlled), preparation area, and cooking area.
Every space is equipped with the newest gadgets and technology for optimum functioning. For example, an MMS terminal and weighing scales are installed in the receiving area. In addition, the kitchen has biometric access. Thus no one without their biometrics can enter this area.
StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in your industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen within states in India?
Manas: QSR has been very famous in foreign countries for a long time, but it has now entered the Indian market and has a vast scope for development. QSR format is exploding in India post covid with new concepts, and the masses are positively looking forward to this concept.
The foodies of India, especially the students and office employees, are keen to range over food/meal options that are fast prepared, quickly served, and economical. These options help satiate your hunger in a timely fashion. The younger crowd especially shows their interest in the QSR segment, low-priced food, and easy-to-go menu and dining option.
We all know that Indian cuisine is most loved; however, very few restaurants are able to magically pack and serve it in the QSR format. But now, the race has begun, and the market is set to explore and explode with innovative Indian QSR models.
StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year and how will these inform your future plans and strategies?
Manas: One of the most important lessons that I have learned and will always be with me is to focus on networking and staying updated, not just in the case of technology but in every aspect. The industry is always changing, and you need to keep up with those changes as best you can. Networking can enlighten you, help with your challenges, and find you friends who can relate to what you're going through. It can be uncomfortable initially, but connecting with people over LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great start. Conferences and events are other great places to form connections.
StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, product, and team base in the future?
Manas: Talking about business expansion plans, being a first-generation company we have very aggressive expansion plans. We are eagerly looking for business growth partners who would like to shake hands with us. Furthermore, we plan to focus on the Delhi NCR market only.
We are in process of developing various formats for our outlets which could be further branched out into market-specific locations. In simple words, Kiosks for food courts in malls, and full-service sit-down outlets for high street markets. We are mainly focusing on the FOCO (Franchise Owned Company Operated) Business Model, where we and investment will operate outlets sought from a franchise partner.
StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with people reading this article who want to get into entrepreneurship?
Manas: In my view, there’s no one said solution or tip behind every entrepreneur’s success but the magic lies in getting started and facing your fears. Fears exist for a reason, but they're never unconquerable. You may feel reassured to know that many entrepreneurs start a little hesitant and fearful. It certainly is a good time for a passionate food entrepreneur. With thorough groundwork, before venturing into the business brings good results later. Even the best businesses occasionally face financial challenges. Maybe your first marketing strategy didn't work out, but that doesn't mean you should quit. When taking on new projects, you must keep your costs and budgets in mind to prepare yourself for any challenges you might face.
We thank Manas for spending his valuable time and sharing his learnings with all of us.