Inspired at a party, these IIM alumni decided to build a D2C cocktail mixer brand

Launched in 2020, Delhi-based D2C startup Drinktales is a premium brand that aims to deliver the experience of a bar, at home. It offers a range of cocktail mixers, garnishes, bar tools, and party games.
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IIM alumni and friends Aakriti Goyal, Tulika Priya, and Bhanujeet Choudhary were experimenting with cocktails at a house party when they saw a market opportunity: cocktail mixers. 

The trio gleaned the need for a platform that offered authentic cocktail mixers to deliver a superior experience to people who wanted to make cocktails at home. 

In 2020, this led to the birth of Delhi-based Drinktales, a premium cocktail mixers brand that aims to “deliver the experience of a bar without the hassle of creating cocktails from scratch”.

“With the help of our team of experts, we created natural-flavoured products that evolved from constant feedback of mixologists. Each product, we believe, is about innovation and brewing magic,” Tulika says. 

All the flavours are classic cocktail flavours with a little twist; all created with constant feedback from mixologists, food experts, and customers. The products are manufactured in Uttarakhand. 

“COVID and lockdowns have made house parties the new normal and consumers want to try new products that can help them improve their party-at-home experience. This has resulted in many new-age beverage brands, including Drinktales, making a mark,” Tulika says. 

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What it offers?

Drinktales, which aims to “help shape cocktail culture for tomorrow’s progressive consumer", wants to develop innovative products to make get-togethers and travel convenient and fun for the smart, curious, and cocktail-passionate audience. 

“We created India’s first powdered cocktail mixer flavour, and went on to create more products to enhance the house party and bar experience like dehydrated garnishes, drink rimmers, bar tools etc,” Tulika says. 

The D2C platform now offers products in four categories - cocktail mixers, garnishes, merchandise (bar tools and party games), and gifting. However, the main product is the cocktail mixer; it comes in a pack of four single-serve sachets. Each sachet can be mixed with alcohol (according to the flavour) and water/soda to make a cocktail in 30 seconds. 

“Our five flavours, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, Old-fashioned, Chilly Margarita, and Cinnamon Sangria, cover all alcohol bases. So, to make a Margarita, one has to mix 60ml tequila with 60ml water, add a sachet of Drinktales Margarita Mix, and stir. Voila!” Tulika says. 

The team and background 

All three co-founders are IIM alumni with combined 15+ years of experience. Bhanujeet comes from a product management background and works on Drinktales’ products and operations. Aakriti, with experience in product management, takes care of product innovation and sales while Tulika works on the marketing and branding. 

“We see an opportunity to help people make authentic drinks with a leisurely and creative DIY experience. Our mixers saves cocktail enthusiasts from the trouble of a large shopping list and effort of bartending, keeping the fun in the game. All they need to do is mix and stir, and be a cocktail connoisseur,” Tulika says. 

As a niche FMCG brand, retail holds a considerable share of the startup’s target audience, which made expansion amid the lockdown a major channel. 

The founder reworked their strategy, focusing on building a D2C channel and strengthening the brand's online presence.

The startup is now moving towards a stable retail strategy by partnering with distributors across India.  Drinktales’ products are available at around 50+ retail stores in Delhi, Goa, and  Chennai, and trade chains like Modern Bazar and Le Marche across India.

Revenue, growth, and the future

Since inception last year, the founders claim to have generated revenue of around Rs 50 lakh . 

Tulika says their revenue comes from three main channels - online sales (website, grocery, ecommerce), offline sales (retail), and B2B sales (events, gifting). 

The online and offline retail channels are B2C channels and contribute to a major part of their revenue. B2B comprise mainly of gifting (corporate and events) and the HoReCa segment. The SKUs are priced at Rs 180 for a pack of four drinks; others are available from Rs 399 (bar tools) to Rs 2,799 (gift box). The average order value on the website is around Rs 500.

“We work on a unit economics that is profitable for us. Our gross margin is around 75 percent. Drinktales was started as a bootstrapped firm with an investments of around Rs 20 lakh between the founders. We have taken up angel funding from three individual investors of around Rs 36.5 lakh and are looking for seed funding,” Tulika says. 

Speaking about the competition, she says, “The format (powder) in which our product is present separates us from the competition. Our products are mess-free, travel-friendly, and new-age – they stand out from liquid mixers and allow cocktail enthusiasts to experiment with the base and garnishes to make their own versions.” 

There are companies like Jade Forest, Borecha, and Swa Artisanals in the space.

Drinktales aspires to become a niche beverage brand “that can resonate with the joy of cocktails and good times”. 

“We want to be present in 500+ retail stores in India by 2022. We are looking at Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. We aim to become a D2C player for cocktail mixers and other party products,” Tulika says. 

The brand aims to expand its reach through grocery and hyperlocal delivery platforms like Swiggy, Dunzo, Bigbasket, MilkBasket etc. 

“We are building a strong team to expand our B2B reach and want to have good HoReCa distribution, and penetrate the gifting market,” Tulika says. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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