Shreyans Vijay was an investment banker for nine years and a graduate from IIT-Bombay. He and his wife Ridhima, who was a software engineer and an equities trader, quit their jobs to start this venture. They started their first outlet in Andheri East with a small investment but reached break-even in just four months. Read more about their story:
How did you get the idea for Stuffed?
Finding good food other than typical Indian or Chinese or a Pizza is still a big problem in Mumbai. Even though, people, especially the youth have become more and more globalized, the availability of different cuisines is still missing. Back in the days, we used to travel all the way from Powai to Carter road to have a Shawarma. Then, we thought why not make this amazing dish available to much wider consumers and that’s when we decided to quit our plush jobs and started Stuffed.
Recently you have raised a funding of Rs 2.5 crore. Where can we see those funding to be used?
From a current store count of three, we aim to reach more than 10 stores by mid 2016. So, most of the funding would be used in that expansion. Besides having QSR outlets, we are also working on getting into the pre-packaged food segment. This sector has remained dormant for some time but lately it is seeing improved traction from customers. This will also give us instant access to a much greater geography.
How does Stuffed differ from other brands?
We aim to break out of the monotony that's crept into our food. We give a very refreshing menu to our customers, which at most times are stuck with the usual choices available in the market. One basic philosophy which we have always believed in is that “The food should be fulfilling”, that led to the name ‘Stuffed’. We are the only restaurant that serves both regular as well as large Shawarmas. The large Shawarma has been introduced keeping in mind the appetite for lunch and dinner. We want to change the notion of Shawarma as a snack. Even the pastas and salads that we serve are more than what you get at more established outlets.
What is the main challenge in operating this business? How do you manage it?
The biggest challenge is of labour. The industry is such that there is extremely high attrition rate of employees. Moreover, with the advent of other new age companies like ecommerce, etc. the cost of labour has gone significantly up. It’s difficult to find skilled employees at the budgets you would have fixed one year back. That’s why we are working on simplifying our processes so much so that even a new employee can get trained in just two days.
What are the cuisines served by you?
We serve a very contemporary cuisine which includes Lebanese, Italian and Fast food. We are largely known for our Shawarmas, Pastas and Salads. We have put in a lot of effort to ensure that our food fits the Indian palate but at the same time does not lose its health quotient.
What is the number of orders that you get presently. And the target in next few months?
Currently, we do more than 100 orders from each of the outlets. The target is to increase the penetration and take this number to more than 200 by December end.
What is your expansion plans?
With the latest round of funding we would be increasing the store count to 12 and getting into the packaged foods segment. Currently, we would like to add most stores in Mumbai only, before going to other cities.