Noida-based foodies leave their corporate jobs to set up Be Bhukkad in their quest for good food.
A career shift is tough, more so when one has been ingrained in a profession for over a decade. Pranshu Sikka’s career leap is one of those difficult choices. A literature graduate from Hindu College, Pranshu worked as a journalist with CNBC TV18 and public relations professional with AdFactorsPR for over 10 years, but his first love was always food.
Along with a penchant to try new recipes, Pranshu also nurtured a grudge; the absence of innovative, consistent, and timely delivery food outlets serving traditional Indian cuisine. This transformed into a business idea when he came across three like-minded ex-colleagues, Shehzada Sodhi, Arpita Ashara, and Sumeet Saurabh. Together, the four started Be Bhukkad, with 'Love For Food' as its core value.
“Unlike our peers who were venturing into the food business with technology, we decided to foray with what we consider is still the most important component of this value proposition – the food itself,” says Pranshu.
The team of four, all in their 30s, claims to provide consistent taste, quality, and delivery offerings for retail and corporate customers.
Pranshu invested his savings and borrowed money from his wife for a seed capital Rs 30 lakh and started operations in late 2016 with a 2,500 sqft space in Noida. The restaurant specialised in authentic Mughlai recipes and also north Indian and Chinese food.
“None of us had any experience in this industry. Therefore, we knew that our success lies in our team. Initially, we all doubled up and divided most of the operations in-house to understand how this trade works,” says Pranshu.
With little to no understanding of the food industry, Pranshu and Shehzada started deliveries and soon got to be known as the “Fortuner-waale” and “Bullet-waale” boys, quips Pranshu. Sumeet shared meals with retail customers to get feedback, while Arpita conceived algorithms and their integration with business to understand customer behaviour and commercial viability.
Starting out as a four-people set-up, the venture has scaled up its employee strength to 21 culinary, delivery and managerial staff. “Once we got together and conceptualised this venture, we hunted for chefs who were not only good cooks but good learners who could unlearn some of the commercial food cooking habits to bring delectable flavors and standardised quality offering,” says Pranshu.
To get their recipes right, the four toured the country on a “culinary journey” of sorts, experimenting food at various towns and cities and setting a menu that would appeal to their clientele.
Pranshu is also the founder of The Pivotals – a stakeholder engagement firm based out of Noida and Be Bhukkad is his second entrepreneurial venture.
Be Bhukkad currently services an average of 90 orders a day, with an average ticket size of Rs 170, translating to a monthly turnover of around Rs 4.6 lakh. However, the company operates at only 30 percent capacity in terms of space, equipment, and manpower.
Average corporate orders are much lower than retail at present but are fast catching up. Pranshu says corporate orders “allow us assured revenue as well as volumes, which are always uncertain in the retail market.”
Some major corporate clients include Reliance Communications, RedFM, YES Bank, High Commission of Canada in New Delhi, and Kaden Boriss Partners Law firm, among others. Be Bhukkad has also tied up with food aggregators Zomato, Swiggy, FoodPanda, and Jugnoo to enhance its retail sales. Currently, these aggregators generate about 22 percent of the restaurant’s overall business.
The Indian restaurant industry is estimated at around Rs 75,000 crore and is growing at an annual rate of 7%. Be Bhukkad’s competitor Pind Balluchi has been funded by Everstone Capital, while Sagar Ratna has received funding from India Equity Partners.
Be Bhukkad is looking to raise funding and Pranshu said the company needs around Rs 2.5 Cr for its planned expansion. In future, Be Bhukkad is looking to leverage technology and exponentially grow the business by launching relevant ordering apps to cater to the niche budget meal food delivery market. It is also looking at opening three more outlets by the end of this financial year.
Food is one thing that most hold very dear, and with rising incomes, rapid urbanisation, and increasing working population, restaurants will never run out of customers and hence business.