An interaction with Prashant Kulkarni, Owner and Director, Chatar Patar.
From a coding software professional to selling paani puri, Kulkarni talks about how the idea of selling India’s one of the favourite street foods came into his mind and reveals about taking his business to abroad.
Taking the plunge
I knew from the beginning that 9-5 job is not my cup of tea; I can’t be a part of the system. I was working with Infosys Group but I always wanted to be my own boss. That’s why I left the organisation and started Chatar Patar in 2011.
While working with Infosys, I often used to have road side paani puri and one such day after having it, I got unwell with food poisoning and after that I did not have it for almost 3-4 months. And that’s the moment I realised that there must be many people who are also going through the same experience and I planned of doing something on the hygiene issue. I did a online survey by circulating the online form through ‘Orkut’ and found that Paani puri is the largest selling product but there is no brand selling the product under any brand name. And then the idea provoked me and we dug deeper. Today, we are the owner of the world’s first paani puri brand ‘Gapagap’ offering 112 flavors.
Making of a healthy paani puri
Paani puri is being largely perceived as unhealthy and unhygienic but after Gapagap, Indians can have the healthiest version of paani puri. The water that we use is purified and the contents are without saccerine, tatri , citric acid or other harmful chemicals.
We standardise our recipes for all the 112 flavours that we serve across India. We pack everything in Indore and then it goes to different stores across country serving the same taste at different cities.
When we were in the menu designing stage, we were sure to keep everything for each family member, for example, everybody in the family can’t have pizza or burger, but anybody can have chaat and paani puri. We wanted to create a family hangout place. We have different types of bhels, chaats, drinks etc. Around 80 percent of our menu is unique and most of the dishes have been created by us.
Franchising the business
We have started franchising in July ’12. Our product deserves a bigger market than a single store or single city operations. Franchise route is the fastest way to reach to the people which deserve better paani puri (Gapagap). We are looking for passionate partners to join hands with the fastest growing network of paani puri brand. Till today we have got almost 150 odd enquiries till date. We will be opening 32 stores by the end of June 2014. Our target is to go global. In fact we have received couple of enquires from UK and Australia as well. But we want to have a strong foot hold in India before we cater to the world.