When it comes to Maharashtra, in the name of food, the first thing that comes in the mind is vada pav. Vada pav is the most popular, easily available, inexpensive and anytime-to-eat dish of Maharashtra. Whose business (Vada Pav Business) is now happening not only in Maharashtra but also in other states of the country. A loaf is cut from the middle, put potato vadas and fried chillies in it, served with wonderful chutney. The taste of this dish never disappoints anyone. If you go to Mumbai and taste it without coming back, then your journey will probably not be considered complete.
Hailing from Mumbai, 46-year-old Dheeraj Gupta already had a rough idea of the simple-looking dish. He took Vada Pav to various parts of the country and brought it to par with the exotic food sold at McDonald’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut. Dheeraj launched ‘Jamboking Burger’ with an initial investment of Rs 2 lakh, which has now become a Rs 100 crore business unit.
In 1998, Dheeraj completed a business management course. This was the time when McDonald’s and Domino’s arrived in India, only a few years. Dheeraj explains that after completing college, he wanted to create a supply chain system for making and distributing sweets. He explains, “I was convinced that if sweets were packed like chocolate, sales could be good.” I learned that the sweets industry in India was an unorganized sector and I wanted to change it. Unfortunately, this idea did not work. ”
Before leaving this business idea completely, Dheeraj lost about 50 lakh rupees in two years. He explains, “I borrowed money from various sources and I was thinking about different ideas, so that I could turn these ideas into a successful business.” On the other hand, the success of McDonald’s and Domino’s also resonated in my mind. With strong intentions, I said goodbye to the sweet business idea and decided to focus in the ‘Quick Service Restaurant’ (QSR) business on the lines of international giants. ”
Clearly different from competitors
Inspired by the popularity of McDonald’s burgers, Dheeraj decided to try his hand at Vada Pav. In 2001, he took a loan of Rs 2 lakh and leased 150-200 square feet of space outside Malad railway station, with the promise of selling clean and fresh vada pav. It was here that ‘Jamboking’ started. Compared to the Vada Pav found in the market, the size of the dish found here was 20 percent larger. Which greatly benefited the business.
Dheeraj explains, “In the beginning, my confidence was strengthened by success. Seeing the growing popularity of ‘JumboKing’, the contestants repeated the same model and started calling their Vada Pav as ‘Jumbo Vada Pav’. But, our number of outlets was high, due to which the customers easily recognized our real jamboking vada pav. ”
Dheeraj says that because of opening the outlet, he got to learn a lot about the functioning of the QSR. He explains, “As I was developing my brand, I began to learn how global QSRs succeed in their brand identity and marketing, how they create a story or idea to attract customers And how do we focus on our work to make our product on a large scale, economical and a complete supply chain? When we increased the size of bread and quantity of potatoes in our vada pav, our franchise family also inspired us to do something new. Our first two food products were Sheswan Jamboking and Chhola Jamboking. ”
Says Dheeraj, “In keeping with the ‘business model’ of the global QSR giants, ‘Jamboking’ was created. My research and experiences helped in this process. ”
He encourages budding entrepreneurs to read Al Reese and Jack Trout’s books, such as ‘Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It’ and ‘Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind’.
Dheeraj explains that later, the company adopted the franchise model of Subway. He says “Subway has a 100 percent franchise model, which is why it has 78,000 stores worldwide. A franchise network helps a lot in making a profit. ”
Although Dheeraj tasted success in Mumbai, the business faced challenges in other parts of the country.
Difficult innings outside the home ground
Speaking to The Better India, Dheeraj says, “Every enterprise faces many challenges; Our challenge came in 2010, that is, nearly a decade after entering the business. The initial investment helped us develop 32 chain stores. In 2007, we were expecting a turnover of Rs 6.5 crore and we also increased some small investments. By 2008, we had opened 45 outlets, which was satisfactory. ”
Dheeraj further said that the challenge came when he decided to experiment outside Mumbai. He admits that there were some flaws in his strategy. He says, “Despite 52 stores in 13 cities (half of which were company-owned stores) as of 2012, we suffered.” Many of our outlets were also struggling to recover costs like rent and salary. ”
He says that customers outside Mumbai were not able to connect with Wada Pav the way people used to connect in Mumbai or other parts of Maharashtra. “They considered it a non-local food and thought of eating it only when they came to Maharashtra,” says Dheeraj.
However, things improved when the company focused on fiscal discipline. He said, “To reinvigorate the brand, we did a lot of research. We invested heavily in technology, lean systems, processes and partnered with reputed manufacturing companies. Jamboking turned into Vada Pav, a burger brand and we started calling our brand ‘Burgers – Born in India’. ”
An indian burger
The company changed the business model from a company-owned store to a franchise model, and it was a bold move. Dheeraj explains, “We focused all our energy on building the best franchise system and invested heavily in brand building. By 2013, we were back on the path of development. Innovation, training and unwavering discipline have been our greatest strengths. ”
Jumboking is currently selling vada pavs and burgers in several flavors, such as Tangy Mexican, Corn Spinach, Nachos, Cheese Grilled, Big Crunch, Tandoori Cheese and Crispy Veg. More recently, they have also added Mac and Cheese Burgers to it. Wraps, creamy shake, ice cream and fries etc. are also served to the customers here. There are 114 franchise outlets in stores in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Lucknow. Dheeraj aims to build 180 outlets across the country by March 2022.
When we asked him about offering a healthy alternative to Indian burgers, he said, “We introduced brown bread, but we did not succeed in it.” I think customers’ preferences are clear on what they want. ”
Dheeraj advises entrepreneurs to adopt a focused and disciplined approach to business. He says, “Instead of choices, one must focus on the consonant. It will require patience, which will help you stay in the market for a long time. ”