From Coding Software to Selling PaniPuri: Prashant Kulkarni’s inspiring “Chatar Patar” Story
Our startup story today of Chatar Patar is an ambitious venture which plans to brand a product that India has been consuming since aeons, but never had a single brand name attached to it. When Prashant Kulkarni was working at Infosys, he ate roadside pani-puri and fell prey to food-poisoning and could not eat his favorite fast-food, for almost four months. This, he believes, is a very long time for any pani-puri aficionado. This incident spurred Prashant to research about pani-puri offerings in the country and he discovered there was no brand that was synonmous with the product. Prashant has now launched ‘Gapagap’, India’s first pani-puri brand.
Prashant Kulkarni realized very early on that taking up a job was not his cup of tea and he set out to “create his own universe” in October 2011. A strong believer in entrepreneurship, Prashant got his million dollar idea unfortunately through the bad experience. Today along with his team members, Aarti Sirsat and Pallavi Kulkarni, he manages the Gapagap brand and other products like 80 types of bhel, 27 types of chaats, pohas, etc, under his venture Chatar Patar. Chatar Patar sells pani-puris in 112 different flavors. Some of the famous items include Maggi Gapagap: a combination of various tastes with the regular Maggi, Masala Fries: Indian street version of French fries, Chaatizza: Chaat+Pizza, Idli fries, idli chaat, and khakhra chat. Since launch, Chatar Patar has grown rapidly. It has now, tied-up with Big Bazaar shops across states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, and has franchisees across these regions. Chatar Patar’s latest outlet opened has opened in Ahmedabad.
But this was not as easy as it sounds. Prashant is still grappling with problems of logistics and supply chain that can smoothen transfers of goods like panipuri masala, the ingredients of bhel, from Indore to various cities. He has tried a couple of options but could not find the right partner who suits his needs. And who can work within the budgets that a startup can afford.
Talking about his ambition, Prashant says, “We are a bunch of dreamers, we want to make Chatar Patar to be an international brand. After penetrating the Indian market, we would love to go abroad.” He has already received some enquiries from Australia and London, but has put them on hold for some time so that he can strengthen his foothold in India before he goes abroad. And Prashant’s dreams are not unfounded. The quick service restaurant(QSR) segment is growing rapidly in India. As per latest reports, Indian QSR industry is currently pegged at $1.36 billion in 2011, growing at a CAGR of 35% and pegged to reach $4.5 billion by 2015. Lifestyle changes couple with increase in spending power has resulted in boom in this market.
Chatar Patar might appear a tad different from other ventures, but, Prashant comes from a family of businessmen. His family business is to manufacture tubes for automobiles. After his MBA, when Prashant planned to start Chatar Patar, people close to him thought he was out of his mind, but he managed to overcome all the hurdles and today has a successful venture running. But he has managed to silence nay-sayers and has sold over 150,000 pani-puris to date. So next time you want to eat pani-puris that don’t make you sick, check out a Chatar Patar outlet near you.