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May, 13 2010

Raise icy scoops

‘Mama Mia! Gelato’, the fat free authentic Italian gelato ice cream, is the brain child of CEO Natasha Aggarwal Roy. In an interview, Natasha talks about her plans and her venture, the challenges she faced in the process and her yearning to spread the gel

‘Mama Mia! Gelato’, the fat free authentic Italian gelato ice cream, is the brain child of CEO Natasha Aggarwal Roy. In an interview, Natasha talks about her plans and her venture, the challenges she faced in the process and her yearning to spread the gelato culture pan India.

What inspired you to start a gelato parlour and brand ‘Mama Mia! Gelato’ ice creams?

I came across Italian gelato when I was on a holiday in Italy and thought it would be better to start an entirely new product category in India. I got in touch with some Italian companies and chefs and received training in a gelato factory in Bergamo, Italy, to make gelato. Thereafter, the first Mama Mia! shop opened in May 2005, where I was the chef, sales girl and owner!

What initial challenges did you face?

Since we import all our ingredients and equipments, dealing with the Indian customs can be very tedious. Besides, my employees are older men and hence, getting them to take me seriously was a challenge.

How is your concept of gelato ice creams different from other gelato brands across the country?

Mama Mia! is an innovative dessert brand. We add one to two new flavours every weekend, and a few very different ones.

What kind of innovations do you add to your gelato ice creams?

Besides ice creams, we also have on our list ice cream cakes, sundaes, smoothies, desserts, thereby offering more than just gelato! Our recent creation is Mama Mia! FROYO!, a new brand of frozen yogurt which has already become very popular.

Do you undertake any kind of research and preparation before introducing any new flavour?

There is no major research involved; it is more about gut instinct.

How many gelato flavours do you have at present?

We have a stock of over 200 recipes. However, on display we have up to a maximum of 24 flavours at any time which we keep shuffling around.

How are your products sourced and manufactured at your different outlets of the brand?

We have a central manufacturing unit in Kolkata. We transport the gelato to different cities and outlets from there.

What are your expansion plans?

Currently, we are present in Kolkata and Bangaluru, with a total of eight stores which are self-owned. We would like to expand to other parts of the country and are looking for franchisees.

Why have you taken up franchising as your mode of expansion?

We have limited funds to expand on our own everywhere. Also, having a local franchisee can be more beneficial as there is a sense of ownership and they are familiar with the local market. Also, it is a profitable business for a franchise.

What retail locations are you targeting to open of your gelatarias pan India?

A combination of stand alone parlours, kiosks in malls and multiplexes are some of the targeted retail locations. However, as the price is higher than regular ice creams, locations have to cater to an upmarket clientele.

What kind of training and support will you extend to your franchisees?

We will provide all the required training to the franchisee and his staff, both when setting up and ongoing basis. We have qualified managers who would visit regularly to ensure proper quality is maintained. We regularly brief and train on all new products and when promotions are introduced.

What are the various distribution formats for your gelato brand.

The gelato brand is distributed through retail-kiosks and parlours, supermarkets supply, catering and through institutional sales in restaurants and hotels.

Franchise facts

Operational: 2005
Business: Ice creams
Investment: Rs 6-20 lakh
Area: 100 sq ft kiosk to 1000 sq ft parlour with seating
Employees required: 4 to 6 per shop

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