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Bootstrapped Think Tanc turns your restaurant dream into reality

Sindhu Kashyaap
22nd Nov 2017
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Bengaluru-based consultancy Think Tanc helps plan, set up and run restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Most people, at some point in life, dream of setting up their own restaurant or café. Many even get to the stage of gathering funds or finalising a location, but when they actually get down to the nitty-gritties, reality sets in.

Setting up a restaurant, bar or café is no mean feat, and that is where Think Tanc steps in. The Bengaluru-based company hand-holds novices, and even experienced professionals, through the process of starting out and setting up. Founders Amit Roy and Anupam Sehgal help prospective restaurateurs decide what kind of an establishment to set up, what cuisine it should offer, what is the target audience, down to what should be the colour of the menu cards and walls.

“That is what differentiated us from the rest. We offered turnkey consulting services, right from the concept to execution to post opening management. There is a handful in the country who offer these services,” adds Amit.

Amit and Anupam’s clients include Skyye Bar, Fluid in Mysore, The Bierre Club, and Puma Social Club.

Amit Roy and Anupam Sehghal

Before starting Think Tanc, Anupam was the food and beverage director at an ITC Hotel for seven years, and CEO of hospitality company Trumpet. Amit’s family, on the other hand, has been in the hospitality business since long. They started the Think Tanc in 2010 and to date, the company is bootstrapped.

The workings 

Explaining the process, Amit says when someone approaches Think Tanc, they typically either have real estate or are in the process of finding it. Most clients come with an idea, and here the team steps in. Starting with a team of three starting with the founders, today Think Tanc is a team of 10.

To begin, Think Tanc takes up a feasibility and market study, which typically runs into a 40-50-page report. It includes data analysis, mapping of the chosen location and area, profile of the target audience, and a competition analysis. The report also draws up a detailed business plan.

Think Tanc starts with the location. If for example, a client is keen on opening a bar in a location like Indiranagar in Bengaluru, the team looks at parameters like the target audience, how much the client is looking to invest, and the planned unique differentiators. It then works on the mapping.

Citing an example, Amit explains that if a client wants to set up in a particular locality that is already saturated, they suggest other locations. The reason, he says, is because it is difficult to innovate in such a scenario.

“Based on the feasibility, we build a concept. We submit the business plan to clients with the expected revenue, returns and then we get into the gist of actually zoning out the property. We also ask them about the layout they want to follow before we lay out a concept for them,” says Amit.

“In many cases, people just want to open a place where they can meet and take care of their friends and clients. We tell them that this is still their hard-earned money and that we will do this right for them. That is one of the reasons why we wanted to bring science into the company because the success ratio of this (the restaurant business) all over the world is in single digits,” he adds.

The company’s first project was the Skyye Bar.

Based on the feasibility report, the team also gives clients its suggestions. If a client is keen on an upmarket lounge, the Think Tanc team draws up a list of pros and cons, project numbers, and even whether it would work in the current market scenario. The team also suggests locations where a venture would most likely succeed.

Looking at what is right

Not everyone, though, is on board with the suggestions Think Tanc offers. Amit says the company has, on occasion, had to disassociate with clients as its own reputation was at stake.

“If we tell someone that it will not work and he does it anyway, we let him do it by himself. There are two things, one being the client’s success because we are in a service industry. Today, people are coming to Think Tanc because of our reputation and if we have a few misses, it affects our market value,” he adds.

Think Tanc also works with well-known and established brands like Nagarjuna in Bengaluru, and Amit adds the company has worked with restaurants like Sukh Sagar as well. He adds 90 percent of the company’s business is with new turnkey projects, and the remaining 10 percent are mainly research-based, based on the clients' requirements.

The team takes between 15 days and a month to draw up a feasibility report depending on the data it is looking at, and the access it has. Amit adds it takes a couple of weeks thereafter to create a concept, which is backed and supported by a business plan.

The team then moves on to onboarding vendors. Think Tanc even helps with the interiors and design, and gives architects, designers, and agencies a brief on the concept.

Working around the challenges

“We prefer vendors who we have done multiple projects with, and it also depends a lot on what kind of project we are doing. We have five to six creative agencies we work with, and we know who fits in where,” adds Amit.

Through the entire process, the Think Tanc team keeps the client in the loop, allowing them to take the final decisions. Think Tanc also helps clients hire staff, from chefs and bartenders wait staff, and this says Amit, is the biggest challenge of all. “Personnel at a higher level come with many tantrums because the industry itself has spoilt them,” he says.

Think Tanc charges clients depending on the work done. For a project like Skyye Bar, the team charged Rs 50 lakh. Over the past seven years, the team says its revenue has grown 100-150 percent annually.

“The Think Tanc team of Amit and Anupam were instrumental in helping us set up Skyye from scratch, be it staffing, training, menu ideation etc. They also helped us manage Skyye over a period of two years on day-to-day operations and reporting. As we were novices in the industry, their vision, attention to detail, expertise and integrity greatly helped us in creating an iconic bar,” says the Directory of Skyye

A SMERGERS report says the restaurant industry in India is worth Rs 75,000 crore and growing at seven percent annually. The organised restaurant segment is growing at 16 percent annually. The report states that there are several factors like rising disposable income and higher youth population that contribute to this growth.

Speaking on future plans, Amit says, “This year, we will reach 150 outlets we have consulted on Pan India. We are at a 90 percent success rate.”

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