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Powerful Financial Tips for Start-Ups in Food Industry The market being huge new players are entering it to make most of the trend.

By Baishali Mukherjee

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With more and more people opting for eating out, home delivery, or for take homes - the food industry is witnessing a boom not only in India, but all over the world. The market being huge new players are entering it to make most of the trend. However, a fledgling business cannot thrive unless it reaches out o its target group i.e. customers through robust marketing. Here are some powerful tips from two very successful Kolkata based start-ups in the food industry -- Wow! Momo and Chowman.

Wow! Momo is a young and vibrant brand started by two young Entrepreneurs Sagar Jagdish Daryani and Binod Kumar Homagai from Kolkata at the age of 21. They have literally played with momos to have grown rapidly to become the country's largest chain of momos with more than 100 outlets in Kolkata, Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai and Kochi. Their Menu caters to 12 different flavors of momos available in steamed, fried and pan fried variants. Named as India's 1st major chain of Branded Momos, Wow Momo started with an Initial Investment of rupees 30,000 with one Kiosk in Kolkata - 2008. In 8 years, they have have achieved a current turnover of over Rs. 5 crores/month. Their successful business model is a case study for various Multi National Organisations and Business Schools.

Debaditya Chaudhury, an entrepreneur, globetrotter and a great musician. With his wealth of experience that he gathered from around the world and his love for food, he started Chowman Hospitality Pvt Ltd in 2010. From a small 16- seater joint in Golf Green of south Kolkata, Chowman has grown over the years and today has a strong presence in the city with 9 outlets spread across prime locations and a home delivery fleet that caters to the smallest pockets of the city. Debaditya's other passion is music and he is also the founder member of the bengali rock band Lakkhichhara incepted in 1998. Debaditya speaks of investment and marketing solutions for start-ups.

Unconventional methods of marketing

Debaditya Chaudhury strongly believes that with the limited resources and budget in mind, a food start up needs to make its marketing plan, specially by not using conventional methods of marketing like print advertisements, outdoor hoardings, television commercials etc. Instead they can market their brand by distributing leaflets inside the news papers, use PR aggressively to get visibility in the media.

Wow Momo's first 40 stores were funded by their very own customers, when they initiated the business they did not have the funds to print leaflets, do paper ads etc. "We believed that food advertisement happens by a word of mouth and the first marketing we did was sampling our products across all sections of customers. We were convinced that if someone tastes our product once, he/she shall be ours forever. This is how we grew as a business for six years with minimal marketing spend," informs Daryani who is highly passionate about Brand building & Business development. He has mentored start-ups in the F&B space and a few of them are already in operationally profitable mode. Sagar keenly looks into marketing, branding, expansion, growth, retail operations & logistics.

Location is important

Wow Momo as a brand believes that one needs to be available in more and more locations in order to have a brand recall. "Today we are there in the best of malls in the county, premium high streets and crowded locations. We believe we need to be present in more and more locations to be prominent and available for customers to reach us," shares Homagai who focuses on manufacturing operations, purchases, logistics, legalities, accounts, fund management and statutory compliance.

Be prominent and visible

"One has to develop the brand properly. In this world of endless competition, branding is everything. Your name, logo, strap lines need to stand out from the crowd and really be different from what others are doing," notifies Chaudhury.

Wow Momo also had a focused approach on creating an impression in the minds of the customer, be it their fancy packaging or the logo or brand positioning. "We believe in "Jo Dikhta Hai, Vo Bikta Hai" and we ensure that we are all prominently visible and available at all times," enthuses Shah Miftaur Rahman, the newest energy force to be added to the founders' team. A process driven individual by nature, Rahman is a CA & CS by profession and has joined the promoter group to build, grow and regularly upgrade as the brand grows to the next level.

Customer feedbacks

"Customer feedbacks and comments," feels Debaditya, "also help in a good way. One should be able to track daily feedback from the customers and work on it accordingly."

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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