In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India, Rafih FiLLi, Founder & CEO FiLLi cafe speaks about his journey as a young Indian entrepreneur expanding his business globally.
How FiLLi Café has change the way tea is served across the UAE?
In beverage industry tea business has not given as much importance as coffee. Cafes were only meant for coffee and the concept of conversing over a cup of tea didn’t exist in the UAE. This was the biggest challenge in the journey of FiLLi. I created a homely ambience at FiLLi that made visitors feel like home. The signature FiLLiZafran Tea was appreciated by people as they could chat for hours while immersing themselves in the joy of a warm, soothing cup of tea. Thus, this way the journey of FiLLi was began, where visitors could ‘Tea n Talk’ and gradually made FiLLi as their second home in the UAE.
What new product range you are offering for your customers? Which is the fastest growing product?
We have introduced breakfast menu, milkshakes and loose tea. Milkshakes are the fastest growing product and we have 21 flavours of milkshakes.
Which section of market you love to focus?
Dubai has a serious food culture and that is what we are tapping into. By 2020, Dubai is expecting 20 million tourists with a rise of 10.6 over 2012. Even the local market is also very strong and willing to try new concepts. With the increasing appetite for out-of-home dining and growing discretionary wealth in the Middle East, there is plenty of room for brands like us to expand their business.
Our main target is low and middle class, working, students and tourist people. And our average ticket size is AED 20 (USD 6).
What is your marketing approach to survive in this market?
Since, we completed our franchise plan; we have a serious approach towards marketing. Recently, we have done smart and effective branding for our existing stores. As marketing strategy, we are also focusing on our brand positioning, menu re-engineering and employee training. We have a very active social media pages as part of our digital marketing.
What is your expansion plan in terms of numbers of outlet?
100 outlets and still running; by 2020, we have ambitiously planned to have 100 principle stores in the UAE. And by 2017, we intend to have 30 stores in UAE along with 70 franchises around the world. In India we have plans to open 300 outlets in 10 years.
Are you also planning to take franchisee route?
Yes, we are expanding our business globally using franchise program. The franchise option will be available in all the other countries except UAE. In fact, the plan has been set in motion with the first franchises for five outlets already being signed off in Qatar. The brand has also set up a dedicated team for expansion in the UK and India.
Tell us about your journey as a young Indian entrepreneur who started with a small roadside café FiLLi.
I am very fun loving person and enjoy being with friends. The history of the name FiLLi traces back to my school days, where my friends gave me the title FiLLi. But little did anyone know that this name was given for the sake of fun would one day lead to the establishment of FiLLi.
The signature FiLLiZafran Tea is a result of my own determination to introduce a specialty tea that people would love. After being a hit amongst UAE’s tea lovers, my aims is to take this taste global by reaching out to every tea lover and make them fall in love with tea all over again.
Meet this Young Entrepreneur and Speaker at Franchise India 2015 on 18th and 19th of October at Pragati Maidan.