Within two years of launch, this entrepreneur hit gold by serving freshly prepared biryani in earthen clay pots
Lokesh Krishnan founded Bengaluru-based Potful with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 2 crore. In an interview with SMBStory, he explains how his brand is serving pots of authentic biryani, and his plans for the future of the delivery-only company.
Biryani. The very word gets most of us excited. It has become synonymous with celebrating some of the best moments in life and sparking joy on particularly dreary days alike. Once the preserve of the elite and royalty, biryani has become more egalitarian in the recent times, with each region in the country boasting of its own unique twist to the dish. But along with the proliferation rises knockoffs and dilution of the original, rich taste.
Lokesh Krishnan loved biryani but was worried about how people did not get to taste the authentic version of the dish. Hence, he founded Potful India Pvt Ltd, a biryani company in 2017 in Bengaluru, to offer biryani from across the country on a single platform.
In an interaction with SMBStory on the occasion of MSME Week, Lokesh said,
Biryani has become a commodity and most of the restaurants do some form of biryani. We believe that authentic biryani options are very few in a city and the flavours offered are also limited to their region, like Hyderabadi biryani in the South, Awadhi biryani in the North, Calcutta biryani in the East, etc.”
Lokesh founded Potful with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 2 crore. In this interview he tells us how his company intends to clock Rs 16 cr turnover.
SMBStory: What is your background? How did you think of opening a biryani company?
Lokesh Krishnan: Earlier, I was working with Amul, handling their sales in Andhra Pradesh region. Then I joined Metro Cash and Carry in 2002 as Director of Food and Member of the Board. I spent 18 years on the job, but there was always an entrepreneur inside me who was foodie to the core. I found my calling in 2017 seeing the huge gap in the segment and I launched Potful.
I invested all my savings in Potful with the help of family, and I feel happy that the brand is giving good returns.
SMBS: With big brands already dominating this segment and plethora of brands serving biryani, didn't you find it challenging to step into the same segment?
LK: Biryani is India’s favourite food. But, I found authenticity to be missing. There are many brands that are almost 40 years old and offer delicious biryani to their customers but they are offline stores. Secondly, I found that the choice of biryani is limited.
Every region has a different taste and with my brand, I brought the different tastes onto one platform. Hence, I solved two big problems.
At present, we serve three types of biryanis- Lucknowi biryani, Hyderabadi biryani, and Calcutta biryani. Besides biryani, we also serve customers with various kebabs, rolls, phirni, and much more.
SMBS: Tell us about the earthen claypot you serve your biryani in? How did you come up with this idea?
LK: We make our biryani in the traditional way. Each batch is prepared fresh against an order in an earthen clay pot and delivered to the customers in the same clay pot, hence delighting them with the most authentic form of dum cooked biryani.
Our ancestors used to cook in the clay pots, that time where was no aluminum or steel utensils and it was good for our health too.
We also deliver a small packet of seeds along with the biryani so that people can reuse the pot to grow vegetables at home.
SMBS: Why did you not think of going offline?
LK: In the busy schedule where people think twice to step out of the house and have their meals, it is convenient for them to order online, and sit back waiting for food. Online ordering for biryani is increasing day by day and so I thought to make Potful a delivery-only platform.
With the same business model, we have delighted more than one lakh customers and have four cloud kitchens and a central kitchen in south bangalore and we are expanding our footprint now. We will be a pan-Bangalore brand with a presence in two cities by December 2019 serving one million customers a year.
SMBS: If you cook biryani right after receiving the order, don’t you think it hampers the turnaround time for delivery?
LK: It definitely hampers the turnaround time but I know when customers taste my biryani they forget about the long delivery time we take. It is freshly prepared and gives a real taste of biryani.
We are trying to make our delivery partners also understand and hope they will soon be at par with us.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
LK: We are constantly working to enhance the process and lessen the delivery time. Even if the time reduces by 10-15 minutes, it means a lot. Further, we also have plans to scale up and cover the whole of Bengaluru and hit the offline space as well.
(Google presents YourStory's MSME Week, powered by Dell. It is a week-long celebration of the best home-grown brands across India.)