Offering 40 flavours, this Chandigarh-based doughnut brand is taking on Mad Over Donuts and Dunkin Donuts

Rejected by Dunkin Donuts to open a franchisee in Chandigarh, Ketan Kalra started a doughnut brand of his own. Launched in September 2012, Super Donuts sold out 800-900 doughnuts on the first day itself.

Offering 40 flavours, this Chandigarh-based doughnut brand is taking on Mad Over Donuts and Dunkin Donuts

Wednesday July 08, 2020,

6 min Read

Remember when dinner parties only meant devouring rectangular-shaped pastries that only came in three typical flavours — pineapple, chocolate, and black forest? Those days are long gone. If there is one major disruptor that forced India’s bakery industry to innovate, it was doughnuts.

Delhi-based Mad Over Donuts (MOD) was launched in 2008 and soon after, Dunkin' Donuts too came to India in 2012, leading the pack. Today, Dunkin' Donuts has taken a backseat as home-grown doughnut brands are making inroads to grab a slice of the pie.

Super Donuts

Ketan Kalra, Founder of Super Donuts

Chandigarh-based Super Donuts is one such brand. Founded in 2012 by a then 20-something Ketan Kalra, the brand has been steadily and consistently growing.

Uncertain beginnings 

It is said that wrong paths often take one to the right destination. Something similar happened with Ketan. At 20, the young man was pursuing rally driving when he met with an accident. This compelled him to change careers and he went to the UK to do a course in food and technology. During this time, in 2011, street vendors offering doughnuts caught his eye.

Ketan started researching about doughnuts and realised a business opportunity. This was also a time when MOD was creating waves in India, and carpets were being rolled out for an international giant like Dunkin' Donuts.

He decided to give it a try. Hailing from a business family, he bought a chance from his father, who agreed to fund the company on the condition that he would come back to the family business if the odds go against him. But he was determined to do something different.

He applied for a master franchisee in Chandigarh for the Dunkin Donuts brand but received a rejection two days later. “They were unsure about handing over the brand to someone inexperienced considering my age,” he says. 

It is then that it occurred to him to start a doughnut brand of his own. 

Ketan flew back to the UK to complete his research about doughnuts, and even visited Belgium which helped him gain a deeper understanding of the industry and the sources needed for his raw materials.

What’s in a name?

Like many Indians influenced by western culture, Ketan wanted to have a Spanish or French name for his brand. One day, he stumbled upon the word ‘Super’ and added it to ‘Donuts’. The name Super Donuts sounded simple yet catchy. He repeated the name 10 times and realised that he wanted to abandon his aspirations of keeping a fancy name and go ahead with a simple name for his brand.

Ketan also made the logo of the brand himself. With everything in place, Super Donuts was launched in a 200 sq ft outlet in Chandigarh. On the first day itself, Ketan says, they sold 800-900 doughnuts, and this is how their journey started.

Super Donuts

Riding on an uneven road

On the surface, everything looked perfect. Within months of the company’s inception, it was clocking sales worth Rs 1 lakh in a day. But Ketan also had to grapple with the realities of being a young entrepreneur, with a lot more on the plate for him to handle. 

“The initial years were fun but very hard also. I had to learn and do everything from the scratch,” he says. Organising the business, streamlining its operations, getting the taxes in place, and hiring and maintaining the staff — he had to ruffle his feathers to get everything right.

“No amount of education prepares you once you dive into the business.” But bit by bit, Ketan started to overcome all the obstacles. He hired HR companies to help him with right and reliable people. When he saw competitors entering the market, he pulled up his socks and ventured into the business of giving out franchises.

He admits to not being very erudite with the tax structure even today but as an entrepreneur, he has learnt the ropes to lead the pack and retain control.

Today, Super Donuts has 14 stand-alone stores across north India including Chandigarh, Dehradun, and other places in Uttarakhand.

Super Donuts

Think global, act local

Ketan says, while preparing his menu, he tried several mixtures and it took him months before arriving at the perfect taste.

He says, “The European way of making doughnuts makes them very sweet, the Americans consume even sweeter doughnuts. While making the mixtures for the Indian market, I had to strike a balance between making it sweet yet not making it too sweet.”

He says that the aim was to make doughnuts with localised taste which are soft, fluffy and melt in the mouth. Super Donuts also claims to not add any sugar syrups. Chandigarh is the hub of the company’s manufacturing facilities.

Super Donuts has a total of 40 flavours including the Gulab Jamun doughnut and the Kaju Katli flavour which were introduced during Diwali. Other varieties include Oreo Dust, Cookie Dough Monster, Billion Dollar Ferrero, and many more. The doughnuts are priced between Rs 90 and Rs 130. 

While other doughnut brands have stuck to the core, this brand has diversified into the snacks category, offering coffee, milkshakes, bagels, sandwiches, pizzas etc, all of which are priced between Rs 100 to Rs 250. The intention behind this move is to have something for both kinds of customers — those who want to consume something sweet and those who don’t. “When we started expanding our offering, our sales went up by 20-30 new customers coming in every day,” he says.

The brand has completed eight years and is clocking around Rs 15 crore turnover every year.

The road ahead

Over the years, Super Donuts has taken to a slow and steady approach to establish a name for itself. It has 15 stores including the one soon-to-be-launched in Delhi. The brand is also planning to open stores in Gujarat and Patiala. It is also present on food platforms like Zomato and Swiggy.

Mad Over Donuts continues to dominate the market with 58 brands in four cities, while the presence of Dunkin Donuts has progressively shrunk especially over the last two years.

COVID-19 has had an impact on the sales of the business, but Ketan is determined to expand and scale “with or without a pandemic.” The company, which was bootstrapped until now, is also looking at external funding to bolster its expansion aspirations. 

Leveraging on this opportunity, Ketan says that rents have more or less halved so it is a good time to invest in property. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh