The MBA Who Sold Vada Pav’s to India – Dheeraj Gupta

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We live in a country where our future professions are decided based on our highest education. So, if you studied engineering, it is assumed you would be making software. If you studied hotel management, you would be an hotelier and if you did an MBA, it is believed you would be working at a managerial position in a multinational corporation. But, Dheeraj Gupta was going to break these stereotypes.

Gupta at first wanted to brand Indian Mithai’s overseas. The idea flopped miserably and he learnt a harsh and expensive lesson. Although, his parents had offered to support him through it but he took a loan instead. He tried turning the business around for 2 years but it just did not pick up. He ended up bleeding Rs. 50 Lakhs in the process and decided to go back to the drawing board and rethink. All the research he undertook for the sweets business came in handy, wherein he had read and learnt about how giant corporations like McDonalds and Subway focused on a single product. He chose to take the same route.

He shortlisted to take a product, which is the staple food for every Mumbaikar and is very popular in the city. With hundreds of sellers, the market was huge but unorganized. He saw this opportunity and decided to set up shop outside Malad Railway Station. He hired four employees and started sourcing patty from a local vendor. He would fry it at the shop and maintain high levels of hygiene as the staff would wear gloves and the Vada Pav’s were neatly wrapped just like burgers. Also, the product was 20% bigger than those of the other sellers. Hence, the name Jumbo King emerged. It was witty and catchy and it clicked instantly with the masses.

On the very first day, Gupta’s venture made a profit of Rs. 5,000. The word spread and Jumbo King’s Vada Pav’s soon became a rage. At first, they focused on just one kind of Vada Pav and the turnover touched Rs. 40 Lakh in the first year. Gupta managed to repay the debt of his earlier venture. In 2003, he opened his second outlet in Kandivali and in 2005, five more outlets. In 2006, he expanded to Surat but soon shut the outlet down as it was not feasible to transport the patties and quality would be compromised too.

In 2007, Gupta met a manufacturer who would help him freeze the patty at -18 degree and hence was just the solution he needed. He started expansion by means of franchising and by 2009 had 38 outlets. Ever since, they have been growing rampantly. Currently, Jumbo King is present in 12 cities and has over 65 outlets. Till date, they have sold more than 100 Million Vada Pav’s in the country. They intend to set up more than 500 outlets in the coming years. The predicted turnover for the brand this year is more than Rs. 45 Crore. From being told by his batchmates that he was competing with roadside vendors for a living to being the called the “King” of Vada Pav, Gupta has come a long way. The line that keeps him motivated is “Success comes to those who believe in it the most, and believe in it the longest.”

If you too have entrepreneurial dreams or wish to have a venture like the ones listed above, you need to have faith in your Chatur Idea. You will always wonder who will fund this idea and from where will you find investors. In that case, you can participate in the #BeAChatur Contest and not only be mentored, but also stand a chance to win a whopping Rs.10 Lac funding for your dream startup idea.

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