The Indian Drink Maharaja
Lahori Zeera aims to set up two manufacturing outfits in the West and East to cover the entire country and to be able to reach 130 crores consumers in the next two years.
Lahori is the brainchild of Saurabh Munjal as well as two of his cousins - Saurabh Bhutna and Nikhil Doda. Realizing there is hardly any player in the desi drink segment except the top two players, the startup hailing from Punjab launched its own brand. The name for the brand was inspired by the ingredient which is most commonly used in their drinks which is rock salt. Hence, the name Lahori.
According to Saurabh, Nikhil and his family had a knack for experimenting with drinks made from ingredients that were available at home. When Saurabh Munjal and Saurabh Bhutna tasted the Jeera drink, they saw the potential of the drink to be sold commercially. The three got together and started operations n a small scale in 2017. The startup is producing around 1.2 Million bottles a day as they are expected to double their production to 2.5 Million bottles in March 2022. One of Saurabh Munjal's proudest moments was when he was visiting a dignitary's place and the dignitary served him his own drink without knowing it was his brand.
The company aims at bringing authentic flavors from the streets of India to the people of India. The product is primarily being sold in the Northern part of the country with deep penetration in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, western parts of UP. Pilots in 8+states have been initiated.
The company recently raised external funding led by Verlinvest. The company was self-funded so far and was being run with the profits generated by the business over the last three years. According to Saurabh, after Verlinvest's recent infusion, the company is good to go for at least two years as he expects to recoup profits/cash flows going forward as has been profitable since inception.
The highs and lows are part of the journey as the high point for Saurabh were to be able to build that recall and traction that we are working capital negative – all our products are sold on an advance basis. In seasonal months, the advances are for up to 10-12 days. However, his low point was the company's inability to make its products available consistently on the shelf, inability to serve the distributors consistently due to capacity constraints which in effect is on account of limited capital and other resources has hampered the company's ability to focus on other flavors, packaging's and other innovation. According to Saurabh, they learned manufacturing the hard way as they did not have the background and visited multiple facilities through the connections they had and tried to understand the nature/type of machinery being used by competition and what suits them. The company has been EBITDA and PAT profitable as the company aims to move out from its own turf and become a pan-India brand. They aim to set up two manufacturing outfits in the West and East to cover the entire country and to be able to reach 130 crores consumers in the next two years.