Ready to drink? Meet the ex-Ola alum who launched a cocktail startup
When Nitesh Prakash left Ola, he was trying to figure out what to do.
“I ended up meeting with a lot of people and we either go for drinks or coffee. In the process, I realised that cocktails as a category was promising but there was an innate problem in the overall category,” Nitesh tells YourStory.
The IIT Bombay alumnus saw a problem with the consistency in the taste of cocktails. Seeing a potential business opportunity, Nitesh set out to solve this problem and came across ready-to-drink cocktails.
In 2019, he launched, a Bengaluru-based ready-to-drink cocktail startup.
Nitesh spent the next year and a half in research and development, collaborating with bartenders and mixologists, going through different distilleries and tasting a number of liquors and beers to find the right spirits.
“I started attending a lot of mixing and bartending sessions to understand how this exactly functions. After a couple of months of training, I started making cocktails in my kitchen. I would pour these in bottles and give them to my friends to understand if they liked it,” he says.
It was only in early 2021 that the startup launched its first three cocktails — Cosmopolitan, Long Island Iced Tea (LIIT), and Mojito.
In the past, Nitesh has worked with companies like Procter & Gamble,and FoodPanda.
Fresh and in demand
All three cocktails have 8 percent alcohol content, and are currently available in Karnataka, Goa, and Telangana.
O’ Be Cocktails uses distilled spirits across the cocktails whether it is vodka, white rum, gin, or tequila.
The founder claims all the ingredients used are natural and sourced both from India and abroad.
Each cocktail comes in 330 ml cocktail pull strap bottles with a shelf life of six months. Nitesh says the products have undergone up to 100 iterations, created by a specialised team of mixologists and bartenders. One bottle of O’ Be Cocktails costs Rs 180.
The startup has a manufacturing unit in Goa, from where it distributes to over 600 stores in the three aforementioned states.
The entrepreneur says O’Be Cocktails has seen a 10-12 percent growth in the past year across all the markets it is present in, adding that the startup has sold over 100,000 cocktails so far.
In the beginning, O’ Be Cocktails only supplied one case of 24 bottles per store but over the past year, this number has steadily increased to up to four cases per store.
“At multiple stores in Bengaluru, we’re trying to recreate the cocktail experience by giving the right cocktails in the right glasses and by providing garnish that a consumer can add, which is unique to us,” says Nitesh.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global ready to drink cocktails market size was valued at $782.8 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent from 2022 to 2030.
Similar players in the market include Radiohead Brands, &Stirred, Bengal Bay Drinks, Peer Drinks, and.
Though the demand for ready-to-drink cocktails was already rising, the segment exploded after the COVID-19 pandemic, with the growth of at-home cocktail culture, increased concerns for health, convenience, and enhanced quality and diversity of products available, the report added.
In September 2020, O’ Be Cocktails had raised Rs 3.5 crore in an angel round led by First Cheque, LetsVenture, Ola’s Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Founder Abhishek Goyal, and Sprout Investments.
“The Indian alcohol market is a huge, fast-growing $35 billion market. We, however, haven’t seen much product innovation from the incumbents over the past few years despite newer categories like ready-to-drink cocktails gaining lots of ground internationally. We believe the time is ripe for ready-to-drink cocktails to take the Indian market by storm, and we love the product and brand that Nitesh and the team are building,” said Kushal Bhagia, CEO, FirstCheque, at the time of the funding.
The annual recurring revenue of the brand is more than Rs 1 crore, claims Nitesh.
Going forward, the startup plans to be present in 1,000 stores in the next three-four months, and 5,000 stores by 2023.
“O’ Be Cocktails hopes to be available pan India in the next six months,” signs off Nitesh.