Delhi-based Sugar Threads gives an old product a brand new spin, offering organic cotton candy in over 22 flavours and with an array of toppings. The bootstrapped company now has eight kiosks in North India and aims to make a mark across India.
A hand-pulled cart, a tinkling bell and rising flames over which colourful cotton candy was spun – that’s the stuff sweet dreams were made of in the late 90s and early 2000s.
But street vendors attracting children and adults with sugary treats is a rare sight these days. Increasing awareness about health and fitness, concerns about quality, and worries about consuming packaged sweets weigh heavy on the minds of almost everyone.
But have no fear for Sugar Threads is here to entice millennials with their sweet offerings.
Delhi-based Sugar Threads is a gourmet boutique that offers cotton candy made entirely from natural and organic products.
Sumit Gugnani, 27, Co-founder of Sugar Threads, says, “We can describe our business in just three words: Delivering childhood smiles.”
Sugar Threads’ menu offers organic cotton candy around in 22 flavours and a variety of colours. The company uses organic sugar and natural plant-based colours, and claims that their product is fat and cholesterol-free. They sell through kiosks in malls and have also ventured into the world of outdoor catering.
With no intention of entering the F&B industry, Sumit, an MBA working for a startup in Delhi, felt a sense of nostalgia when he came across a cotton candy vendor on the street. He only wished there was a healthier version so and his family could indulge.
Sumit went home, but didn’t forget about the cotton candy man. He researched extensively and decided to recreate cotton candy with all-natural products. He and his brother, Amit, 29, soon founded Sugar Threads.
A year later, in December 2015, Sumit launched their first outlet at DLF Promenade Mall in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
Sugar Threads, registered under NCG Foods & Beverages, is currently bootstrapped and has a team 23 people.
Sumit says that procuring raw materials and ingredients, and sourcing the machines was a challenge. He ended up getting the machine from China and now has 25 of them.
Since the founders were determined to use only organic and natural ingredients, spinning the cotton candy right needed ample research.
“We did exhaustive research and rediscovered techniques. We use plant-based colours instead of synthetic ones, and retaining the colour at high temperature was a challenge,” Sumit says.
But one they managed to overcome.
The team spent a lot of research and time in designing their kiosks. “We have designed our cart/kiosk in a manner that it attracts children and adults alike. Details like a happiness buzzer and the logo are our star attractions,” Sumit adds.
The company operates through six outlets located in NCR-Delhi and one in Chandigarh. They also have one franchise-based business model in Pacific Mall, Dehradun.
The cotton candy is sold on a stick (Rs 120) and in a tub (Rs 170), and has a shelf life of 7-8 days. The flavours are unusual and set them apart from the good old budhiya ke baal. They include bubble gum, strawberry, blueberry, mango, jaljeera, paan and many others. The company ups the fun quotient by offering 15 toppings such as edible Disney characters, butterflies, stars, jelly beans, pop rocks and more.
The founders believe that the ingredients are the USP of their cotton candy. Amit says,
Our cotton candy is all organic. We adorn them with over 15 fun and unexpected toppings. We are spinning our candy with the finest quality ingredients to give a new twist to the timeless classic - making it gourmet.
He adds that Sugar Threads has gathered traction of over 1.8 lakh customers.
Sugar Threads claims to have generated revenue of Rs 1.75 crore in the first year. The investment the brothers made into the company is between Rs 8 and Rs 14 lakh for every outlet.
Now, Sugar Threads has also ventured into the outdoor catering business, a segment that is fast picking up. They offer their services at birthdays, parties, weddings, baby showers, corporate events, charity affairs, school functions and PR events. They do over five events a month across corporates and family get-togethers, and their client list includes MakeMyTrip and Trident.
For the older customers, the founders have created recipes where sugar candy is the prime ingredient but there are new additions to make it more “grown-up”.
Amit says, “We added a twist to the dessert with our alcohol-infused cotton candy and a wide range of combination in cocktails.”
The recipes are available on their web platform and as leaflets in malls, but the offerings are served only through the catering business model.
According to a Techsci report, the candy market in India is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 9 percent during 2016-2021, on account of rising middle-class households coupled with the increase in the young working population.
Rising disposable income, innovative product offerings by major players and a robust supply chain network with increasing penetration in rural areas are among the factors fuelling the demand of candies in India.
Sugar Threads is spinning more dreams for the future. The candy maker is keen to open more outlets across India and then venture abroad. First in line? Mumbai and Bangalore.