It’s not everyday that an Infosys employee quits his job to start a street food business. That’s precisely what Prashant Kulkarni, 26, and an ex-infosys employee did. He pulled a rabbit out of the hat when he decided to combine his love for pani puri, street food and his MBA. He turned the thriving hawker style street food business of India and made it into an organised one with a chain of stores across the country.
His company ‘Chatar Patar Foods’ is part of a growing network of eateries all over the country with 14 outlets across 6 states and with many many more in the pipeline. ‘Chatar Patar’ owned by Chatar Patar Foods Pvt Limited claims to provide hawker style street food in a standardised, customised format, made in hygienic conditions to customers across its various stores. It has expanded its stores through a franchisee model which allows the unit franchisee to grow and operate eateries with a small investment.
The company began in 2011 when a happy accident led Prashant Kulkarni, Founder Director of the company to the idea of an organised hawker style food business. “I stumbled into it accidentally when I suffered from eating roadside panipuri. I never wanted to work for somebody else, I always wanted to create my own system rather than following somebody else,” he says.
The 25 member strong company has had it’s share of challenges as a start-up. Among many problems faced by the company was one of having to create an environment for their business in uncharted territory. “The biggest challenge was to overcome the fear of society, what people would say. And the business is of Pani puri, you don’t require an MBA to sell pani puri. As a start up, I was creating a system; I was not just part of it,” says Kullkarni.
If the food itself doesn’t lure customers in, then the fact the company takes measures to ensure hygiene, which is also it’s USP, will. Chatar Patar ensures that the food is standardised across stores by reducing dependence on a trained chef. All the products requires are routed through it’s base kitchen and manufacturing unit in Indore. To add to it’s novelty the company has created over 112 flavours of pani-puri or gol gappa adding to it’s novelty. It even has it’s own brand of pani-puri called ‘Gapagap’.
Prashant stands by the feasibility of the business and model of Chatar Patar, “Let’s suppose we are in city A, the population is 10 lakhs, let us say half of the population does not like pani puri and we were not able to touch them, Now, even if we sell Rs 20 pani puri to 5 lakh people once a year, the turnover is 1 cr. How many of us eats pani puri once a year, I guess no one.. I am talking about that huge market,” he says.
Chatar Patar is currently not funded by VCs. It has stores in Rajkot, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Vishakhapatnam, Agartala, Mumbai, Satara, and Guwahati. Those in the pipeline include stores in Cochin, Pune, and Jaipur.