How motherhood made these two women start QSR chain Snow Gola

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Picture this - A hot summer day and an ice gola hawker on the street. First instincts will tell you to get yourself a dollop of shaved ice, in the flavor of your choice and find the much-needed respite from the Indian summer.

As a kid, I loved the ice gola and have downed quite a few of them in the summers so far. However, there was always the concern of hygiene that the street hawkers pose and there was soon a curfew on my ice gola binges, until it came back into my life in the form of popular American franchise, Tropical Snow. This was very much welcome, as the franchise made sure that there was a strict adherence to hygiene and I could enjoy my favorite summer food, without worry.

Archna Mathur had just come off a stint with a corporate company because of motherhood and by the time she was ready to get back to her IT job, she had fallen behind her peers’ skill sets. So was her cousin, Pooja Minglani. As there weren’t ones to stay at home, they sought refuge in entrepreneurship - they bought a franchise of Tropical Snow.

But entrepreneurship isn’t without challenges and Archna and Pooja’s endeavor was soon hit by the fluctuating economy and the drastic decrease in the value of the rupee, against the dollar. Archna says, “Tranding in US dollars was difficult and expensive. Everything, from the machine, to the flavours, needed to be bought in dollars. Worst was the fact that the flavours were sourced from India in the first place! Furthermore, India loves local flavours like Kala Khatta and Khus, which we didn’t have the liberty to add to the existing foreign flavours that they provided. We began to feel that what we were running wasn’t sustainable.”

And so, they started their own line of Ice Gola, called Snow Gola. Bangaloreans have probably seen their outlets in places like Brigade Road or outside popular malls. But, through their franchise model, Archna shared that Snow Gola, today, has over 20 outlets all around the country, from metros, to even tier 2 cities like Patna. It was started last September and Archna shared that the company has great expansion plans for the brand.

Archna and Pooja

In the past year or so, the Snow Gola team prides itself in having empowered women entrepreneurs, just like themselves, to do something of their own. Starting up for themselves was under constrained circumstances. Archna says, “We put in money that family and friends had lent us for our venture. After this we also applied for a loan from the bank. But ever since, Snow Gola has been doing financially well. There ROI for the business is very good and we’re in a good place with respect to finances.”

Initially, the company used to give out franchises on their own, but Archna shared that the franchise business is now managed by Franchise India, who are helping them scale on a pan India level. Furthermore, the company also sells its Ice Gola flavours in the retail sector. And furthermore, they have a mobile outlet that they supply to events, such as Aero India 2013, IPL etc.

Archna believes that Snow Gola has great potential. While the Rs 2,500 crore opportunity that the Indian ice cream market is very promising, Archna believes that the value that Snow Gola provides to the franchisee holds the key to its success. She says, “Along with providing a great ROI, the Snow Gola product is really amazing. And it’s cheap, which makes it an impulse buy. And with the value of hygiene that we provide, it can really help a franchisee earn a substantial amount at a not so substantial expense of setting up the business.”

Meet more interesting ventures like Snow Gola at TechSparks

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