Recognising the gap in Indian QSR, Kaati Zone was established to serve across India and overseas with Indian food. In an interview, Kiran Nadkarni, CEO, Kaati Zone shares his vision on Indian QSR and his aspirations from Kaati Zone.
Neha Gohil (NG): How has been your entrepreneurial journey so far? What made you to venture into food market with Kaati Zone?
Kiran Nadkarni (KN): My journey can be compared to a roller coaster ride. There have been a lot of ups and downs. However, the journey has been exciting. I got into food business because I felt there is a gap in the market that needed to be tapped. There are not many Indian QSR brands, with overseas brands capturing the market. Very few companies are there which can be called scalable Indian QSR brands. That was the gap that I aimed to fill by building our brand.
NG: What inspired you to expand Kaati Zone via franchise route?
KN: It becomes very difficult for one monolithic company to build gigantic structure where every store is managed by them. Hence the best way to expand is franchising. In case of franchising, there is a local aspirant talent which can invest and manage business and may help franchisor growing the brand.
NG: What is the USP of Kaati Zone? How is it different from other fast food outlets?
KN: As I said very few companies are building in Indian QSR brand and we are one of them. Second thing is we believe that we have done a lot of ground work in last six years which has helped us to scale this business.
Scale means to expand it quickly and modularly. In the initial years Indian QSR brands need a lot of ground work without which you cannot expand. But once you have put that ground work then going rapidly do not pose a problem. So we have done a lot of work there and believe that we are one of the few Indian QSR brands that is scaled to expand pan India and internationally.
Our brand is different because our food is very convenient take away kind of food. There are situations where customers need quick bite and need to take away food to bus stand, airport, railway station or so. We provide convenience with our take away food. Our food is healthy too as it’s not a fried food.
NG: What made Kaati Zone to opt for the kiosk format? What are your further franchise expansion plans with regard to this format?
KN: The realistic cost in India is very high to the amount of business one can generate. So that was one of the key things to opt for kiosk. Secondly, kiosk is ideal for my food as it is a take away. Therefore, I do not need to set up a restaurant. Even if I set up a restaurant it will be a quick-in quick-out process. Primarily customers prefer take away food from the kiosk counter and thus it is an ideal format.
Currently, we are focusing on southern and western region. Primarily large growth through kiosk takes away counters via franchise route. We are looking for tier I and II cities in south and western.
NG: How many of your franchisees operate through outlets and kiosks? In which cities are they located?
KN: Currently we have 15 outlets out of which 10 are company owned and five are franchise stores. Out of the five franchise stores only one is in the restaurant format. Three are in a kiosk format and one is in a counter form in a mall it’s a bigger counter take away counter.
NG: Which format (kiosk and outlet) is more popular according to you and why?
KN: Investment in a kiosk format is less and it’s popular and numbers of franchisees are willing to sign up. The kiosk format is much narrow or medium but they are the much profitable also. The investment is low and only two people are required to operate it and your break even sale is low and returns are also very attractive for the franchisee.
NG: How many outlets and kiosk have you opened this year? Have you set any targets for this fiscal year?
KN: We have opened two outlets so far. There are 8 to 10 projects in pipeline. We are planning to open 40 to 50 outlets by the end of this financial year. We have set a target of 100 stores by the end of fiscal year 2013.
NG: What are the investment and area requisites for franchisees?
KN: Kiosk is small 70 sq. ft outer dimension. There is pre-designed kiosk, the moment franchisee finds a location and franchise agreement it will be placed there. The investment will be Rs 8-10 lakh depending upon indoor kiosk and the outdoor kiosk.
NG: What are your five year expansion plans?
KN: I do not want to put up a number of stores. We would like to be present in three region of the country and look at least for one international outlet.