Selling 50 lakh samosas a year, Samosa Party is dressing up the humble snack with a sprinkle of tech, and it's working
Building a brand out of an established entity is audacity. But then, startups are audacious. Some live to tell the tale while for others, there's always tomorrow.
Thus when someone tells you they are giving the humble samosa — a symbol of India's street food — a facelift, one wonders. That’s what Co-founders Amit Nanwani and Diksha Pande hope to achieve with their startup— dress up the popular snack using tech.
As someone who has spent her corporate career in the F&B industry from the Oberoi Group to Pizza Hut to Chai Point, Diksha not only has a deep understanding of her subject matter but has always been curious about consumer behaviours and the opportunities these present.
She noticed there weren’t any large-scale QSR brands of local snacks. “Even in small towns, it is easy to find branded burgers and pizzas, but if one wanted local snacks, people relied upon their neighbourhood halwais and shops,” she says.
With Samosa Party, the co-founders want to create a differentiated experience for the urban millennial customers who value convenience, hygiene, and quality even if they have to pay extra.
“Today we have changed how samosas are consumed. You order online and it gets delivered in 30 minutes. The overall behaviour and accessibility have all changed. The millennials are brand savvy and want value for their money, which means they know whenever they order from us they will get hot and crisp samosas without having to specifically make the trip to the shop,” she says.
Diksha was speaking at the just concluded Brands of India event organised by YourStory.
A D2C brand experience
What started as a single takeaway store in Bangalore serving eight to nine varieties of samosas is today available across 15 locations in the city, as well as online on food delivery marketplaces and its own website.
The D2C brand records 50,000 orders per month, and its customers consume close to 50 lakh samosas a year. “More than 80 percent of our customers are repeat customers,” Diksha says.
The startup is growing profitably and launched in Gurgaon in April this year, “but with the second COVID wave hitting immediately, we were unable to do much there”, she adds.
As they say, any publicity is good publicity. A few weeks ago a Gurgaon customer’s tweet admonishing startups to keep tech away from his favourite snack went viral and brought the focus on the startup. The reason for his ire was a code embossed on the Samosa Party samosa’s crust.
Tech in samosa
“The code on his samosa was C&C, which indicates the filling in the samosa is of chicken and cheese. Since we have 14 varieties of fillings, we would receive a lot of feedback from our online customers on the difficulty in identifying the different fillings,” Diksha says.
To solve this customer problem, they inscribe the name of the filling on the samosa. “We also put numbers that are codified with respect to which batch they have come out from. So, it also solves our problem of keeping the batch codes and follow the first-in-first-out method,” she adds, stating technology cannot stay from anything these days.
This strategy to solve a genuine customer problem has also become a branding exercise for the startup. “People see the inscription and know that it is a Samosa Party samosa,” Diksha says.
Keeping with their brand proposition, they also introduced the bucket samosa on the lines of bucket chicken wings. “Samosas by their definition are meant to be shared. Today, most of our social occasions are at home, thus introducing the cocktail samosa bucket was in keeping with the shareable experience,” says Diksha.
“India’s QSR market is expected to clock a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent between 2021 and 2025 as large food services chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, among others deepen their reach in India’s smaller cities, and benefit from a younger demographic,” a report by Edelweiss Securities released early this year noted.
The report also pointed to the fact that COVID was “an enabler boosting preference for QSR as consumers shifted to familiar brands.”
Riding the tailwinds, Indian brands like Chai Point and Chaayos, including Samosa Party’s direct competitor Samosa Singh, have all benefited from this shift in consumer behaviour and the rise in demand for Indian snacks to be made available as conveniently and hygienically as other branded fast food.
“It is always a good thing to have competition as that helps the overall category do better,” says Diksha, adding, “it is a very big market. As long as you give a good product consistently, the demand will always be there.”
She maintains that as a startup, they keep a close eye on their unit economics. “From day one, we wanted to have full end-to-end control on both the backend and front end,” she states. The startup runs its own kitchen, and the takeaway offline stores are managed efficiently in terms of staff and vendors.
“We are not cost-conscious as we are quality-conscious. It’s a long haul. Building a food brand is not something you can do in a year,” she says.
The startup raised an undisclosed Pre-Series A round from Inflection Point Ventures last year and is now looking to raise a larger round to scale to a few more cities.
“We are in the growth phase and are taking a more delivery-first approach for now because of COVID. Eventually, we want to build a brand that can be felt, seen, and experienced across all channels,” states Diksha.
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