“Entrepreneurship is not about break evens or profits, but about success you attain in physically crafting out your Dream into reality” – at KhaoGalli with Mr.Sripad Bharati
Q: Howdidthe Khaogalliidea come about? I mean from – ‘into your Mind and then into physical reality’ – what was it like?
A: We werelike those people who have their own opinion and views about how the food should taste better, How the presentation should be etcwhile eating out at a joint. Eating out has become very common nowadays and people like to celebrate any occasion be it with family, colleagues or friends.In urban India you find people eating out almost every dayat their favourite joints for food that not only tingle their taste buds, but also provides a cosy homelike experience. We see crowd at Chaat cornersin the evening, fast food joints have brisk sales,and speciality food attracts the aficionados. Increasingly people are also becoming choosy and particular about their eating experience. The choice of a restaurant or a joint is more often than not dictated by the occasion or the need.
My wife& me used to have serious discussions quite frequently on the quality of food, the prices, the service of restaurants and how they can be better. But at that point there was no serious thought to start our own restaurant.
We were regulars at small food outlet run by a personwhom we had become well acquainted with ANNA. The business was good but one fine day he took off to his native place and someone else took over the outlet. Few months later the person returned to Mumbai and surprisingly he gave as a call as he had my number. It is then that we decided to kick start with our idea of something of own – Food Outlet – Thus emerged THEKhaoGalli.
We together started working on the concept of the same. With his experience in this industry and our Analytical and Management skills we came out with this tasteful concept of KHAOGALLI
Q: What’s the secret of this name “KhaoGalli”?
We were focused basically on Indian snacks and hence we wanted it to be given some Indian name and KHAOGALLI seemed perfect, it means Eat Street. It really connects to every person from rich to poor. We also worked upon our logo to be short and unique with meaningful colours (Red is for Spices, Green is for Veg and Yellow is for Health). Desigining of logo was also a luck by chance hit to us. One of our close friend who is in Calligraphic designing made it possible for us within no time
Q: How was your “Idea to Reality” Journey ?
We aren’t from business family and nor we have any experience in this industry.
We had this vision in mind to create something, which will go with food and entertainment together.So we thought about starting with small food center to really understand what this business is?Once we had made up our mind things started falling in place. I found this excellent place which was exactly how we had imagined the location should be. We had a very clear idea of what our restaurant should NOT be – we call it the elimination list. One – No Non-Veg food, Two – No typical restaurant format with its dreary setup neither a roadside outlet. Three – No targeting of specific segments of people. The restaurant should appeal to one and all be it a family, the youth or the old. Four – No hankering after early breakeven or profits as this was about pursuing our dream project. That’s how things took off. We went through lots of white papers and read through the experience of popular joints to understand this business.
If one looks around in Thane City such a jointnormally you will find that their primary business is sweets and then they have add-on chaats and other stuff. You will hardly find any joint primarily focusing on food first.We always wanted to focus on innovation and quality. I always had in mind that I shall keep on challenging my Chefs on innovating productswhich is difficult in traditional setup.
Considering all of these factors we started looking for a place and found this spot. Even though itwasnt a footfall zone we took a risk.Today’s major problem is travelling into the city to visit such joints, parking facilities, high prices of food and of course quality
When I met the owner of this space Mr.Vithalaniand explained my concepthe was impressed with the idea and he so verycooperative, that half the job was done here.
To sum up, from time we started planning our dream concept, things flowed smoothly, whether it’s about acquiring place or people. I was fortunate enough to get a good team coming up from different places and who have that liking towards what they do. Yes it’s a different market segment then regular corporate world.
Q: What is the average footfall? How many customers do you cater to including walk-in and Deliveries?
A: All inclusive, I serve around 160-175 customers on weekdays and on weekends and holidays, the figure shoots upto 600. For deliveries and Online availability, I have tied up with names like FoodPanda and Zomato. Obviously this becomes our added investment, but important at the same time, if I have to satisfy a larger circle of Customers. Indeed these channels really do a good job and for startups like us, they really are a boon.
Q: Do you serve other orders apart from Walk-ins ? What was your experience ?
After we started, the first big order we got was for 700 people for 31stDecember’14 (New year celebration) including full service. It was unbelievable for us, but the result was pretty amazing, off course there were learnings too. Later we also initiated live cooking/counters for even smaller groups, say of 20 – 30 members for parties & functions, which normally caterers hesitate to serve since they need good count of plates to be served. And ordering parcels includes – making your home ladies busy, which sounds not so good. So we started serving these “Live Cooking”– say PavBhaji or PaniPuri, Dosas, Pizzas etc. “You enjoy the party, and we do the rest”. People loved this concept.
Now serving to kitty parties/birthday parties/special functions/Society programs is our regular affair, and we keep getting great feedback on our food &service.
Q: This question is for the entrepreneur in you – What exactly triggered you to become an entrepreneur in Food Industry?
A: This was something that I wanted to challenge myself with. As I said we were definetly interested in food business earlier,eventually, all the circumstances pushed me towards this industry. This Industry, we all know,isalways attractive and we all are so connected to it.
Q: So what was the biggest hurdle you faced during startup? Did you overcome it and how?
A: Biggest hurdle was PEOPLE. Everything else can be managed but finding right people is a challenge. India is ranked 145thin the Countries for Ease of doing business by World Bank, so its hurdles everywhere. But People were a big hurdle. The things that work in corporate world don’t work here. Even the tactics workable in good five star Restaurants, fails here. It took me some few months to learn Tricks of the Trade.. Earlier 3-4 months I had to give enough time to this business because we were like babysitting this business and my thought process was at peak.
Questions like – ‘Willpeople really like this? And what I thought will work, is it really working? Do I see some signs of success?’ Or something that tells me that ‘I might need to change my thought’. Thus, our initial 3-4 months were really tough. Finding people, keeping them happy, understanding their needs and what really works for them. At the same time my second big concern was,understanding customers taste, because the entire business is to keep them satisfied. So I used to study people how they react, what are their decision making factors? And so on. And I keep on getting feedbacks; keep talking to them to know our performance? Some people when they talk to me, asks me about this joint, when I simply tell them that I am a Software professional, they remain shocked (Laughs)
Q: How do you manage your time; because its IT industry and we all know how hectic the life in it is?
A: Yes, It was difficult. it was not only about me,even my wife hails from IT industry. We both are like IT minds entering into totally different business. Initially it seemed very difficult managing all this, but I got good support from my Parents and Father-in-Law. Now they are pretty much rooted into this. They share their time, always have something to play around, keep thinking about how to improve the quality & service. For now day to day operations are very well managed by them. So I started focusing on marketing part – website, digital marketing and so on in my free time.
Q: Now, when situation is becoming pretty tight, how do you manage work – life balance?
A: It becomes challenging at times. First three months, it also came to our minds that ‘are we doing too much? And is it really needed?’ with so much of stress on our body and mind. We launched on November 18 2014, and the first weekend came as really amazing. We were like 200% busy here unexplainable in words and that made us think that we committing a lot and hoping it was worth. But all thanks to my family for their full support in such a challenging times. The best part was when many of our customers came to us and complimented us that “you guys are doing a fantastic job!” and even compared our quality with some of the reputed high end joints in Thane and Mumbai, it really motivated us. Their reviews acted as fuel for us and all our sacrifices paid off. Now we are confident that we are doing something right, what more is needed?
Q: What are your future goals and plans?
A:. I see a big gap in the Indian QSR with heavy shadowing of western food culture like burgers, pizza, pasta etc. How many Indian Brands are successful out of India? I have seen and read about some of the well experienced Restaurateurs failing in this industry, and guys with no background are seen succeeding in this industry. So I am very positive. My Primary vision is to expand KhaoGalli in other cities of India with a valued proposition to provide quality and hygienic food to consumers at reasonable prices. I already get many enquiries asking for franchise for KhaoGalli. I haven’t yet figured out how that model will be but yes I am working towards it.
When I travel to different countries. I not only see so many Indians but also locals abroad who love Indian food but find it difficult to get it there. Indian food, spices definitely have something in it which attracts even international community. But yet we fail to see Indian brand as widely spread as McDonald or KFC. India has a rich culture with authentic regional specialties in food. The market has huge opportunity but yet we lag and I feel so bad for this. Many foodies are obsessed with the western food and need a change. So my plans are in development, but not yet finalized. I will be open for financial Institutions, couple of whom have already approached me, but it’s too early as of now. So bottom line is, I want Khaogalli to enter overseas as a brand.
Q: What message you would like to give to entrepreneurs? Because I have met many entrepreneurs who quit their job to become so, and here you did it perfectly while managing job, family and business.
A: I feel Entrepreneurship is not about break evens or profits, but about success you attain in physically crafting out your Dream into reality. Think about a dream, which you may not have seriously pursued, but which keeps triggering the desire in you to keep trying. Don’t ignore these feelings because if you work towards it, something huge might just appear in front of you which will take your dream to reality. Trust me, 8 months back, from the moment we decided to start this up till we actually opened this outlet, things kept on falling in its place and some energy just moved us on.
So it’s all about your passion and willingness, planning and focusing ,rest everything will just shape up. Now after visiting KhaoGalli, many of family members and friends keep on telling me this – ‘We also wanted to do something, but you managed to moved ahead one step and do this”(Laughs). We just need to push ourselves if we really want to do something and please consider the fact that it’s never going to be easy. Change is a continuous process, but it will not benefit you unless you guide it the way you want.