Whipping up the Indian flavour
Kunal Pabrai is launching this December Fresh n Naturelle, which will introduce for the first time ice creams with pure Indian favours what with sandalwood flavour... He talks with YourStory on what it takes to enter an already competitive market
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why did you not pursue a regular job?
I believe it started when I was really young. My father was an entrepreneur and I was inspired by him. Ever since I was in class 9,10,11,12, end of college I had this incessantly wild idea that I was meant to do this - I was meant to be a businessman, an industrialist. And although I had no idea how was going to get there, over time, slowly things began to unravel and I'm trying to take things one step at a time.
Can you tell us something about the initial years- what kind of challenges, struggles are you expecting to face?
I am very nervous because I don't know what to expect. I have an idea but until I get there I'm not sure. As far as the brand is concerned I believe in the beginning there will definitely be difficulties. People might take my age against me. I am, after all, fairly young - just 23years. I hope to take guidance from my father on how to approach a few matters but fundamentally I believe that the product is good. I believe that there is need in the market, a gap which I'd like to fill. What can I say, I like ice creams!
Did you at any point feel like giving up and getting back to a regular job?
Impossible! I can't see it happening. I wouldn't mind failing a few times but I don't think I'd go back to a 9-5 job unless it was for a short duration of time and only if it was going to help me learn something that is geared towards starting another business. Then I might but as of now, I don't think so.
What drives you?
You need to create value. Based on the amount of value you create you will get returns accordingly. So if you are a starting entrepreneur you won't get that much return but if your business does grow, with the amount of value you add to society-it will make a difference.
Who do you consider as your Inspiration / Role Model?
If you're talking about investing then it would be Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger, my own chacha - Mohnish Pabrai would be my role models.
What will be your USP?
We are introducing flavours, which are unheard of in the ice-cream industry-Sandalwood Ice-cream, Nalen Gur ice-cream, to name a few.
Fresh and Naturelle will be making highly unique, highly exotic ice creams which do not use any artificial flavours or colours as everything is 100% natural. That obviously poses a lot of challenges but we insist on it. So for example, the chandan ice cream (sandalwood flavour) would have a very light off-white colour but we don't want to add any colour to it. So whatever colour you get is the natural colour derived from the natural ingredients. For all the health freaks out there who are conscious about detoxifying this is really good for you guys because there is no preservative and no artificial flavouring. This is just very high quality, very rich, good ice cream.
What are the growth drivers / vision for your enterprise?
India is very rich in its culinary heritage. We have the Mughlai food, the Bengali food, the Rajasthani food - we have the paan. Imagine some of our favourite things thrown into ice creams. My vision is to cater to the Indian demand and because the Indian population is so large and diverse, not to mention - all over the world, I foresee a larger demand for my ice cream. Just as we enjoy having American ice cream or European goods, I'm sure they would like to have a taste of India. And they can explore this taste of India through ice creams.
Key Requirements to grow your business
My biggest requirement at the moment is a big investor and since I already have sound set of mentors I think I'll soon be ready.
Tell us something about Tulikas
Anyone who is in Calcutta would have heard of Tulikas. My dad pretty much started a small revolution of sorts with the first ice cream parlour on Russel Street. The ice cream market has really stagnated and become fiercely competitive. Like I've said, Indians aren't very creative so if they see someone doing something successfully they all jump onto the bandwagon and offer the same product, lesser quality at a cheaper price. The intermediaries - the restaurants, the hotels, the distributors lap it all up cause they don't care. It was difficult and I think right now Fresh and Naturelle has started alongside Tulikas, but now we're going to be digressing from it and eventually breaking off completely. I'm very glad to have my father's technical input in this field as he has 20+ years of experience.