Part Four (4)

If you haven’t read Part 1 Being Entrepreneurial, Part 2 An Idea is Born, and Part 3 Developing The Strategy before reading this blog, it would be best to start at the beginning, to gain context and truly enjoy this post, which is the fourth piece in the story.

Location is key for most FMCG businesses and so was ours. They have a saying in Mumbai – “There is nothing called a good site or a good wife”. I don’t agree with the wife part but a ‘good site’ I agree with.

When setting up the coffee chain, it seemed like every good location we looked at had some sort of issue. Either with the local electricity board, municipal council water suppliers or the local police station, and of course each site had tons of money owed to various State government departments, for various acceptable unlawful activities.

I mastered the art of picking up good sites for our new cafes with multiple issues (acceptable unlawful activities) and used those issues against interested landlords to negotiate the rents in the South. Sometimes these issues were beyond hard work, but mostly achievable to overcome and run as successful sites across various consumer pressure points in Mumbai.

With the first site being an instant hit in Lokhanndwala, among the film and coffee enthusiasts, I very quickly became one of the most sort after businessmen to the real estate agents and suppliers who were wanting to do business with me. As a child I had helped my grandfather run his catering business, made responsible for large scale Indian celebratory events. An intense pressure not usually given to children, but through that enterprise I had made a lot of connections, and was well known. Which now, as an adult with a business venture of my own, was helping me with the building and expansion of the business. These connections were proving to be a very valuable asset.

At this stage, we had established 55 coffee shops in just under 10 months in India. Our coffee chain, was becoming very well recognised. One hundred stores did not seem like such an ambitious plan after all and I was happy in Mumbai and had no plans beyond that.

Being instantly successful came as a surprise and it was all just beginning to sink it when one day my partners agreed to bring in a new and experienced CEO, to create a larger vision for the business and grow the business rapidly in other parts of India. The important thing to point out in the story is, that at this stage, I was just 22 years of age.

Stay tuned for the final blog in my Being Entrepreneurial series next week, to find out what happened when the new CEO was introduced.