His journey from 9-to-don’t-know-what to Kulchas & More
‘Risk hai to ishq hai’
says the character of late sharebroker Harshad Mehta in the hit web series Scam 1992. Kulchas & More founder Ankit Patel knew it all along. Notwithstanding his middle class non entrepreneurial background, he bid adieu to what he said ‘9 to don’t know what time’ job with lots of risk in YEAR 2018.
He and the co-founder Yogesh Ukani took in all their lives saving and put in where their heart was- in an enterprise. “We were not enjoying our jobs. And it made us take a risk. After all what is life without risk,” says 35-year-old.
But the risk has paid off. An INIFD graduate, who started as a visual merchandiser and later shifted to marketing has rewritten his life for himself in the last couple of years through eatery chain Kulchas & More.
“We started with a single company owned outlet in Vadodara, Inorbit mall. But within a year we opened 2 more franchise outlets. The pandemic has hit hard in the whole food industry, and we were also affected by it, but we are starting to make a comeback’’.
They have already served more than 1 lakh customers and it’s increasing with passing time. Their customer base is ever expanding.
Apart from marketing background, Patel and Ukani had one more thing in common. Both had a knack for street food and so they zeroed on a food business. Their passion for food and the zeal to do something big and satisfy the taste buds of people encouraged them to choose culinary business. It’s one of the basic needs of human existence and they wanted to be part of this basic chain.
Currently, Ukani looks after the day-to-day operations of all the outlets while Patel juggle for more business.
Their passion to serve something authentic with twist led to the opening of Kulchas & More. “Our base is very authentic- Amritsari Kulchas. But our preparation and presentation are unique. You can taste the authenticity of the Amritsari Kulchas as well as the contemporary twists’ and that’s make us stand out,” Patel said.
People are always in search of a new variety, and that’s where they come from. Brand fails to evolve when it’s not weaved around originality.
“But we are evolving because we know our Kulchas are original in taste, though it’s being served in the westernmost part of India in Ahmedabad’’, Patel shares.
The food market is already saturated. But Kulchas & More see a clear opportunity for growth by offering quality along with quantity. Food brands are mushrooming, but they lose the customer base equally fast when failed to maintain the quality. Patel believes they saw this gap and that is why they decided to come into the competition.
“Our mission will always be quality and originality, no matter what. To give our customers what they pay for, to give them the original taste of Kulchas from Amritsar’’, says Patel.
Expansion, covering foreign shores, is part of their near future plan. “Our vision is to be the best Kulchas brand in India as well as abroad, to be the best in what we do,” he adds.
The best part of their brand, they believe, is that anyone and everyone, who loves food and looking for taste and affordability is their customer. On the platter is Amritsari Kulchas and different twists to it, like Pizza Kulchas and many more. They follow dine in as well as home delivery model, catering to a wider customer base. One can have a dine-in experience at Inorbit Mall, Vadodara, VRMall, Surat: Kudasan, Gandhinagar and online in Swiggy and Zomato.
In this highly competitive market of North Indian cuisine, Jassi de Paranthe, Kake Di Hatti etc are what they watch out for.
“But their USP is paranthas and ours is Kulchas. We feel that our taste is authentic, and it feels like our Kulchas are straight from the lanes of Amritsar. We offer end to end services to our franchise, which many brands don’t. That gives us an edge’’, Patel says.
Like any small entrepreneur, Patel and Ukani arranged the initial investment from their own savings of Rs 15 lakh and today their revenue stands at Rs 1.5cr. They recovered the initial investment within 8 months of operation. So, it has definitely been a profitable outcome.
“We are planning to open more franchise outlets in the coming 6 months. By Aug 2021, we are planning to open 5 more outlets in different parts of India and also to expand abroad’’,
says Patel while sharing his business plans.
But the journey has not been without its share of challenges. Maintaining the same taste for every outlet and on every day is a mammoth task for any eatery since hands behind the tandoor are going to vary. But Kulchas & More has overcome the challenge through centralised kitchen, which supplies the food to all the outlets.
“Smooth transportation is a challenge that we are working on’’, Patel shares.
Coming months are going to be important. Patel strives to make Kulchas & More a household name in India. With best taste and quality on the offer, Patel is confident of realising his plans. In the next 6 months they are planning to open 5 more franchise outlets in India. Apart from three cities of Gujarat, they are planning to expand to different parts of India. International expansion is also in the pipeline, with eyes on entering European market to start with.
With a couple of franchises already on the board and many more are joining in soon. FOCO (Franchise owned company operated) is the model they follow. The reason: this model helps to maintain a standard in operations and for any restaurant the quality and taste is the most important thing.
Opening a Kulchas & More franchise is quite an easy task. Kulchas & More offers everything from food, staff and also helps in setting up the outlet. They pitch in to supervise the daily operations of the outlets and make sure everything is in place.
About his vision, Patel said, “We as a company want to be better versions of ourselves each day and by doing so, we want to be us and no one else’’.
Patel believes franchise advisors can play a crucial role in their expansion plan by bringing in quality franchise. According to him clear terms and conditions and communication between franchisor and franchise, with the help of franchise advisor, helps both to grow all the stakeholders and saves time and money.
Patel describes his experience with franchises so far good. “Communication gaps are bound to happen, but head-to-head conversations can solve everything. It is the key’’,
he says while dropping the best advice,
“Always keep a steady track of all accounts and don’t depend on someone else to keep your share of track.”