Summer specials: How two women entrepreneurs brought Gelatissimo to the country with an investment of Rs 1.8 cr
Manisha Mishra has a unique background that has nothing to do with ice-cream brands. Today, she and her Co-founder Sangeeta Dumpeta, have brought Gelatissimo, the Australian ice-cream brand to Hyderabad.
Hailing from Patna, Manisha studied agriculture and did an MBA in Agribusiness before starting her career in Rural Marketing, Social Entrepreneurship and HR, and moving into the food business.
Sangeeta, on the other hand is an experienced philanthropist and has been a master franchisee for a sportswear brand for AP and Telangana. The duo founded DKSYT foods around two years ago with a vision to bring innovative food brands to India and promote women-entrepreneurship across the country by encouraging other women to become partners in their business.
Sangeeta and Manisha, founders of DKSYT Foods
Gelatissimo is an Australian gelato brand that is globally acclaimed for its exceptional gelatos. With around 100 stores across nine countries, they are one of the fastest growing gelato brands in the world.
Looking at the shift in consumer preference towards healthier options in the dessert segment and being exposed to this brand for years in Philippines and Singapore, Manisha and Sangeeta were confident that people in India, especially the younger generations would love Gelatissimo.
They launched their first store at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad and in less than a year they opened four outlets in Hyderabad. In conversation with YSWeekender, Manisha explains how they started out and expanded the brand in Hyderabad.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YSWeekender: How did you get the idea of getting in the ice-cream business?
Manish Mishra: My partner Sangeeta is from Mumbai and has been running successful ventures in Apparel retail and sportswear for the last 10 years and simultaneously, working closely with charitable institutions like Bharathi and Annapurna in India. She has been leading diverse teams and working on ideation of this business for the last three years.
We have been family friends for quite some time and we had been thinking of bringing some innovative dessert options to our Indian customers. We have had exposure to many international food brands in the QSR format and we had been contemplating on bringing authentic gelato and gelato-based desserts to India.
We have been acquainted with Gelatissimo for the last eight years and we had been working on how to convince this Australian brand to get their footprints in India.
Finally, in 2017, we were successful in closing a deal with the parent company and we brought our first innovative food brand under the firm name DKSYT foods. We aim to create an array of healthy and innovative alternative food options for Indian consumers in the next few years.
We both have been entrepreneurs for the last six years and we were looking for some common interest to launch a startup in the food segment and here we are.
YSW: Tell us about the design and the flavours at Gelatissimo?
MM: We had a very involved design partner FOYR who could completely bring the cafe design with some unique components in each store like a dedicated selfie area, a designated area to see our global presence through embossed maps, live area for Gelato production and some modern design seating arrangements and decor that is unique too.
We have close to 80+ flavors where Salted Macadamia, License to Lime and Coconut, Chilli Chocolate, Forest Berry Yoghurt, are some of the premium ones. We also have variety of vegan varieties as our fruit sorbet range and lot of nut free and gluten free varieties too.
The Gelatissimo store in Hyderabad
YSW: Why did you choose ice-cream in the food category?
MM: Ice-Cream is a Rs 8000 crore market in India with a per capital consumption of 400ml annually, compared to developed nations like USA where it is at 22000 ml. Close to 90 per cent of the market is filled with non-descriptive products with no disclaimer on the quality, ingredients, and risks.
We have been aware of this Italian concept called gelato which is a much healthier variant of ice cream and once we discovered Gelatissimo in the Philippines where we experienced freshly made gelatos, made completely out of natural ingredients, we were completely in awe of the brand.
This was when we decided that we will start our firm by bringing Gelatissimo as our first food brand to India with a clear mission of giving customers a healthier alternative for their sweet tooth and at the same time indulging them with a world class customer experience through our crew and store ambience.
YSW: How did you build and setup the team?
MM: We have truly handpicked our core team and they have been with us from Day Zero. Sangeeta and I were on the lookout for space for our first store for three months and the moment we finalised an outlet, we quickly divided our responsibilities in terms of how to take the organisation forward. She got involved in Operations and worked on roping in different vendors for commissioning of our Flagship store.
Our flagship store opened in December 2018. Post the launch, we met a lot of people from QSR segment who had experience of working with the organisation in the inception stage and had commonality of working with startups and were aligned with our vision of bringing innovation in the food segment.
The total team size is of 50 at the moment which includes the store manager and crew members.
YSW: What kind of revenues and growth has DKSYT seen?
MM: We started our first store in December 2018 and second one in August 2019. We also have two franchisee outlets running since May 2019. Our plan is to roll out 100 stores in 5 years, primarily through the franchisee route across South India.
We have invested initial seed capital of Rs 1.8 crore and raised debt of Rs 1.5 crore and angel investments of Rs 1 crore spent on acquiring master franchise rights, commissioning of own stores, marketing etc.
We plan to raise another Rs 5 crores in next six months to fuel our expansion in new territories and creating strong brand recall.
YSW: What were the initial challenges and how did you overcome them?
MM: We set up our first flagship store in Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad with a seed capital of Rs 1.5 crores for the store set-up and initial operational expenses. The most challenging aspect was the location hunt.
We knew that this is the aspect that can make or break any food business, so we spent a lot of time in hunting for the right location with a good catchment area of our target audience. The product is targeted towards health-conscious youth and working professionals who understand the need of better variants in all food categories, without compromising on taste and hence Jubilee Hills was the most apt area to establish our first store.
After this we realised the need to create visibility around the brand and we quickly opened our second outlet in Asia's biggest mall, Sarath City Capital Mall in May, 2019 which helped us get the attention of the IT crowd in Gachibowli and Hitech City area.
Later we opened our third store at one of the busiest and oldest Hi-street in the centre of Hyderabad at Himayatnagar to cater to the college youths and business class people in the city. We recently opened our fourth store at Gachibowli and have a plan to open outlets in Bengaluru, Vijayawada and Vizag in the next three months.
YSW: How does the model work?
MM: We import gelato kits from Australia and are the ones supplying to franchisee as well. The cost of goods produced is at 33-35 percent and for 500-600 sqft high street outlet break even typically is at Rs 4.5-5 lakh per month.
Currently all the stores have attained operational break even. We promise franchisee break even within six months and payback of less than three years on their investment. We have a strong quality and process control team which works extensively in training the franchise partner. Franchise profitability and success is our sole aim.
YSW: What can we expect in the coming years?
MM: We plan to have 100 stores in the next five years for Gelatissimo in South India and we want to introduce some new brands in health-food segment in the next two years. As a women-led enterprise, we also are focused on encouraging women entrepreneurship in our country and we are living this dream as four of our franchisees are led by budding women entrepreneurs. We hope and we are working towards having new franchisees and stores run majorly by women in future too.