Former venture capitalists at SAIF Partners and Carpediem Capital have come together to launch a venture which sells 'Biryani' by the kilograms.
It was in May 2015 that two venture capitalists got so passionate about the Indian rice dish of Biryani that they quit their full time VC jobs and started BiryaniByKilo, a cloud kitchen that serves the dish by kilograms.
Started by Kaushik Roy, 47 and Vishal Jindal, 44, the company delivers freshly made Biryani by the kilo in a mud pot (handi) sealed with soaked dough.
"We had to research a lot before we could get to the right thickness of handi which can keep the moisture inside and keep the rice away from getting dry. Other restaurateurs put varnish inside the handi to avoid having the steam get out. We get our special handis manufactured from Kumhargaon, a village outside Delhi," says Roy.
In his earlier avatar, Roy served as chief operating officer of Zoroopa Foods, a Rs 100-crore restaurant investment vehicle floated by VC firm SAIF Partners.
Despite being made of mud, the BBK handi doesn't let water vapour evaporate. Experience reflects in this research. Roy was also one of the directors in Ammi's Biryani, one of the landmark Biryani chains in South India funded by SAIF Partners.
The BBK Biryani is priced at a minimum of Rs 650 for a kg. It is sold in pots of half to 2 kgs.
The product is priced at least thrice the cost of biryani available off the shelf in restaurants and street side food vendors.
“Our target is a person who earns more than Rs 50,000 per month and likes Biryani as a celebration food. From rice to spices everything is carefully selected," explains Jindal, Founder and Ex-director of Carpediem Capital.
At the kitchens of BBK, no chef knows what the masala is made of. The masalas are kept in standardized pouches and then put in the Biryani for cooking. “From the quality of curd to onions to the timing, BBK is trying to make everything standardised to achieve scalability and reduce dependence upon chefs,” says Jindal.
“Pizza chains have an average revenue per user (ARPU) of Rs 350. We are much higher than that,” Jindal adds. The company gets about 300-500 orders per day from its kitchens in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.
The delivery time is about 1.5 hours. “We cook everything on order and is served fresh,” explains Roy.
Besides local food outlets in various cities, the company’s rivals in the Indian market include chains such as Ammi’s Biryani, Biryani Blues, Alibaba, Hyderabad House, Paradise Biryani.
The company has received an undisclosed amount of angel investment from investors such as Rohit Chand and Ashish Chand of Yukti Securities, Chandigarh Angel Network, Ashish Gupta, ex-COO of Evalueserve and Sunil Singh, ex-MD of Globallogic. Together the founders claim to have invested seed capital of Rs 1 crore in the company.
History of the Biryani
There are differences of opinion in history as to the invention or discovery of Biryani.
As per Roy and Jindal, the modern Biryani was invented by the British Army when they were on an invasion spree in India and wanted something quick and wholesome for the barracks. "The protein was provided by the flesh and rice provided the carbohydrates. Also, it was less messy and almost a mobile food," says Jindal.
However, historians such as Lizzie Collingham believe that ‘the origins of biryani’ date back to the Mughal royal kitchen. The rice dish was a confluence of the native spicy dishes of India and the Persian pilaf.
There are over 80 types of Biryani available in the world. In India, about 15 major types are popular which include Ambur, Lucknawi, Mughlai, Hyderabadi, Malabari, Kolkata, Bhatkal, etc.
BiryaniByKilo serves only Lucknawi, Hyderabadi and Mughlai.
"Our aim is to go global with Biryani and launch our brand in the West as Pizza chains came to the east," say the founders in unison.