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D91 Labs

#5 | Venkatesh — Kirana Chronicles

If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time. — Steve Jobs

A relatively busy for a weekday afternoon. As we walk by the footpath, on either side of the road we spot a good mix of retail stores ranging from apparel, shoes, juice centres, paan shops and restaurants. Though Google maps guide us towards the location, we find it a little hard to locate the restaurant. As we manage to spot the restaurant, we enter the premise and approach the man near the cash table and ask for Mr Venkatesh. He asks us to wait and confirms that his owner would be back in 5 minutes.

Short Story:

Venkatesh has been running an Andhra style restaurant in Bangalore for the past 5 years. With their signature Andhra style Biriyani, the restaurant attracts both walk-in and online customers. Venkatesh learnt the tricks of his trade from his mama (uncle) with whom he was employed before and later moved on to set up his own restaurant. Venkatesh is quite affirmative in adopting technology for growing his business.

Business:

  • Venkatesh, the sole proprietor of the business started Nandram Andhra mess by borrowing money from his friends and family.
  • The restaurant today serves Indian, Chinese, Tandoor items in Andhra style and also take up bulk orders for catering.
  • The restaurant gets its peak crowd during the lunch around 1–3 pm and in the night 8–11 pm and it's mostly the working population nearby who walk in.
  • Nandanam is listed in almost all the major food delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato and Ubereats. Venkatesh claims that he gets almost 50% of the total orders online.
  • The online platforms have helped him reach the restaurant to the nearby areas which otherwise wouldn't have been a possibility.

Marketing:

  • The restaurant regularly runs offers with the online portals it is listed in. The offers in most cases are a combined offer (i.e) in case of a 50% off, the restaurant contributes 35% of it and the delivery platform contributes 15% of it.
  • Walk-in customers aren't offered discounts of any kind. The restaurant occasionally prints and distributes pamphlets as a part of marketing campaigns.

Employees:

  • The restaurant currently employs around 20 full-time people including the chefs. Most of them are migrants from other states and are provided with accommodation nearby.
  • The employees are been hired through specialised brokers who work like a scaled-down HR service for staffing.
  • On average, an employee stays for almost a year but Venkatesh also boasts about a few of them staying for more than 5 years. Few of them who visit their hometown for important festivals like Diwali choose not to return.

Vendors:

  • The vendors for the restaurant is discovered through through friends network. The restaurant has separate vendors for vegetables, chicken and fish delivered at the doorstep.
  • All the vendors are the paid through cash and do not accept any sot of digital payments like cash or card.
  • All the perishable items are paid on a daily basis and the groceries bills are cleared once a week.

D: How do you discover new vendors?
V: Vendors in generally approach themselves to the store and pitch their product and service. We give them a try to test the quality and price. If the new vendor has better price and quality, we select them.

Banking and Payments:

  • The restaurant accepts payments through cash, debit/credit card, and UPI apps. Venkatesh claims that PhonePe is the most preferred app by the customers for payment in recent times.
  • Venkatesh has a current account to manage his business finance and handles the banking operation through the banks mobile app.

Loans:

  • Venkatesh reaches out to his friends and family in case of an emergency need for money. Venkatesh has larger loan requirements whenever he wants to open a new restaurant.
  • He hasn't approached any bank for the loan as he hasn't seen a requirement yet.
  • Venkatesh has taken a loan from a payments app which was used to pay the salary of his employees.

Accounting and Billing

  • The restaurant uses a billing software for online orders and is the verge of the setting of the software for billing walk-in customers in the near future.
  • The billing software was recommended by his friends who run a restaurant.
  • Venkatesh has employed an accountant who handles both the Income-tax and GST returns for the business.
  • The accountant sends his assistant once a month to collect the invoices and files the GST returns monthly.
  • The accountant pays the tax on behalf of Venkatesh and later communicates the amount him. Venkatesh later does an NEFT to the accountant for the same amount.

Goals:

  • Venkatesh recently opened up a new branch of the restaurant in another part of Bangalore, given that his business is growing. He aims to open as many branches as possible.

D: How do you decide to open a new branch of the restaurant?
V: First I figure out which area might pick up in Bangalore and then we approach people whom we know who live in that area. Post which we observe the area for almost a week and then we take a call.

About the research:

This documentation is a result of the in-person interview along with the participants’ consent. The interviews might be conducted in their native languages and translated to English in the best possible way to reach a large audience.

Disclaimer: The identities of people and places in this documentation have been changed to honour the privacy of the participants.

About D91 labs:

This research was executed and documented by D91 labs. D91 labs is an open-source initiative by setu.co to help Bharat build great fintech products. We organise and publish user research, insights and frameworks for fintech in India. Please follow us on medium for more exciting stories and insights on Bharat.

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