These women entrepreneurs started a ‘donne’ biryani delivery business during the pandemic, now set to clock Rs 10 Cr in revenue
In November 2020, in the midst of a raging pandemic, sisters Ramya and Shwetha Ravi started a food delivery brand, RNR Donne Biryani, to serve naati-style Karnataka biryani. Today, it has 14 cloud kitchens and a restaurant in the heart of Bengaluru.
Ramya and Shweta Ravi were raised in a family of entrepreneurs in Bengaluru. When the sisters launched their venturein November 2020, in the midst of a raging pandemic little did they realise that it would tickle the taste buds of the city’s foodies like no other.
In the first month itself, the brand received 10,000 orders. Today, apart from 14 cloud kitchens throughout the city, the brand also has its own RNR Donne Biryani restaurant in Jayanagar 4th block, in the heart of Bengaluru.
After completing her BCom at Christ University, Ramya enrolled for a short-term course abroad.
On her return, she did multiple internships, including one at Park Plaza as she was inclined towards the hospitality industry.
Since her father was in the same business, the interest came naturally.
Shwetha completed her graduation from Stella Maris, Chennai and went to the UK for a master’s from Warwick University.
The sisters admit that they took a big risk by starting RNR Donne Biryani during the peak of the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, everyone was looking at the safety aspect when it came to food… we found a big gap when it came to donne biryani and decided to take a leap of faith,” says Ramya.
Popularising donne biryani
Donne biryani has its origins in Karnataka and is known for his strong, green coriander base. While donne biryani is available in bits and pockets of Bengaluru, the sisters discovered that there was no famous brand in the mainstream segment unlike other varieties of biryani like the Hyderabadi biryani or the Lucknowi biryani. It was time to change that.
Also, their grandma’s recipe for donne biryani was a huge hit and they decided to replicate the same. RNR Donne Biryani is name after their father Ravichander and grandfather, Ramaswamy.
Ramya explains, “We started off as a food delivery brand because that was the only option at that time. Also, since most restaurants were running at capacity, we decided to use a few of them as our cloud kitchens. We rented out the kitchens and chefs and started small with our first kitchen at Nagarbhavi in West Bengaluru, where donne biryani was well accepted.”
People could order from Swiggy as well as from the brand’s website. The response was phenomenal and the brand quickly expanded to other locations with 14 cloud kitchens.
The sisters were also conscious of the packaging aspect – the RNR donne biryani comes served on a plantain leaf, which is then packaged in a tin box. They spent very little on marketing as most orders happened due to word-of-mouth and a buzz on social media. The biryanis are economically priced between Rs 189-259.
In September 2021, the sisters opened the first RNR Donne Biryani restaurant in 4th Block, Jayangar. It offers naati cuisine that includes different kinds of donne biryanis, and other popular delicacies on the menu include naati koli curry, naati koli fry, drumstick chilly, elaneer payasam, double ka meetha and goli soda.
“Since the day we opened, the response has been spectacular and weekends bring in a packed crowd,” she adds.
The sisters are also on a mission to popularise donne biryani pan-India. But first, their goal is to open a few more outlets in Bengaluru, and take RNR Donne Biryani to other states in the South.
The brand is profitable and is all set to clock Rs 10 Crore in revenue by March 2022.
“Our biggest challenge was during COVID-19 when it was difficult for us to procure stuff because everyone was scared to come out. Also, attrition is very high in this industry. Despite these, we managed to make a mark and that’s our biggest success,” Ramya says, as she signs off.
Edited by Anju Narayanan