Gullu’s Kitchen Taking Canteen Food to a New Level

Gullus Kitchen

What will you do if your university canteen does not serve proper food or you simply do not like the taste of the food? Start a new outlet just beside it? You will be crazy by doing so. But, this entrepreneur has done exactly the same, no one ever dreamt about while studying in college.

Unsatisfied by the quality of food in canteen and rude comments by university officials, Gulshan Iyer and his friend  Venkatesh started selling Maggie noodles in his Engineering college campus by setting a stove in a small empty space inside the college.

Surprised by the incredible response from students, he had to buy more stoves and increase the supply to cater the huge demands of fellow students. Their business was instant success and later they were forced to hire staff to run their business. Now, they cater to 1400 order on daily basis in each of their outlet. They now have variety of wraps, burritos, burgers, sandwiches, cold and hot beverages in their menu along with noodles.

This is the story of Gullu’s Kitchen, who started their first outlet with mere investment of Rs.3000 in 2013 and now, they are minting crores of rupees. Yes! You read it right. It is hard to believe but this is actually a true success story of Indian food startup. Now, they are planning to open more 12 outlets across Chennai and Bangalore in the next two years. They are even trying to raise 1 Cr. in next four months from angel investors to expand their operations.

Below is the email-based interview with GulshanIyer, the man with Golden touch.

What is the secret behind your startup name – Gullu’s Kitchen?

Since we started as a trial inside my engineering college, we initially didn’t kept any name. Since I had been social and friendly in college, my friends started calling  “Let’s Go to that Gullu’s “because my friend called me Gullu. Thus my startup got the name –Gullu’s kitchen.

What was your aim when you started Gullu’s Kitchen?

Me and my friends were always hungry in college. We hardly had options of good food inside the campus. Amongst the craze of QSR (Quick service restaurants) in India and other countries, people have totally forgotten the community of students. It occupies a huge population in India. But the fact is that the food at hostel mess isn’t great. It is not so clean,repetitive hardly tasty. So we took this as our opportunity and bring the students some great food at really affordable prices.

How are you planning to help the community of students?

Students spend most of their day in colleges. If you give them an option of some tasty and high quality food, they would love it. We are here for them by bringing great cuisines from all around the world at affordable prices. Food is no more a problem in colleges now.

Why do you think the concept of your startup is sustainable?

Education is always going to be improving in India. Number of schools, colleges and offices are increasing at an incredible rate. People are always hungry. With the interest amongst consumers to eat different type of food regularly at affordable prices and accessible places, I think this is a new market altogether.

What is your aim/goal?

Our aim is to standardize the food space within colleges, schools and corporateoffices with a choice of rich healthy takeaway food.

Tell us about your competition.

College Canteens are our direct competitors. Indirectly, there could be a possible affect on the other food chains in the retail space as well.

You might have come across many obstacles in your young age until now. Tell us how well you managed it.

  1. When I look back my family’s last generations, no one had ever done a business. We knew what we wanted to do but we had very little idea on how to do it. That’s where the “ready to learn from zero” attitude came in. So we are trying to meet up with people who have been in this industry and who would like to mentor us as we scale up.
  2. We did shut few outlets due to improper selection of place. Learnt it the hard way!
  3. Hiring good talent is always a problem. We prefer fit over skill. We are a bunch of do-ers .It isn’t that easy to get the perfect hire for our work culture. And Yes we are Hiring.

What is the toughest decision you had to make during the initial stages ofyour startup?

To refuse the lucrative job offer from a multinational company that had been offered to me in college. Coming from a typical Tamil Brahmin family, you are considered worst than terrorist, if you don’t work for a multinational IT company or doing MS or MBA abroad. Convincing parents to carry on with what I love was a task in itself.

What marketing strategies did you adopted for your startup’s growth?

India being the hub of opportunities, we took it to our full advantage. During the not-so-good business hours, we float instant offers to catch up the pace. It has worked well until now. Similarly, our strategy of targeted advertisement to individual consumers has worked a lot.

What is important – founder’s vision or team effort?

It’s a mixture of both things. Of course, there is a vision towards which the founders put their heart and soul, but more important are the team members who help them in execution.Our team has been our backbone!

What is your advice to new startups and entrepreneurs?

If you don’t know how to do something, there is nothing more fun than that by figuring it out all by yourself!

Anything else you would like to share with readers?

Jump out of a business plan. Go do it first. Things will automaticallyfall in place!

Syed Sirajuddin

Syed Sirajuddin is, like always, passionate about the Indian startup ecosystem and loves to share innovative and ground breaking startups from nooks and corners of India. He loves reading and interviewing entrepreneurs.

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