After pioneering the beer chain concept in India, The Beer Cafe continues to focus on innovation and enhancing customer experience. Rahul Singh, founder and CEO, The Beer Cafe talks about the future roadmap and the growing appreciation for beer among Indians By Rituparna Chatterjee
In 2012, The Beer Cafe embarked on a journey with a vision to stimulate the Indian palate towards beer and develop a beer drinking culture in a country dominated by hard liquor. The company went onto establish a concept that was beyond simply drinking beer – it created a casual space for those who love their beer, and more than that, love great conversations over beer. Reminiscing on the story behind this journey, Rahul Singh, founder and CEO, The Beer Cafe, shares, “I was a retailer who turned into a restauranteur. I wasn’t interested in the food space and since the chain concept was catching up in the beverage space I decided to enter this space. There are two segments in beverages – hot and cold. In hot beverages you have coffee and tea. Opening a coffee chain brand would have required huge capital investment and would have lead to competition with Starbucks and Cafe Coffee Day. The tea concept was at its infancy in India and I did not have faith in this segment, which I now see to have potential. As for the cold beverage segment, you normally do not go to a place to drink Coke or Pepsi. In such a scenario, I was left with the alco-beverage segment – which has three divisions – spirits, beer and wine. The Indian spirits market has a 80 per cent market share, but in cities it is 50 per cent. If you look at craft beer, 90 per cent of it is consumed in an environment which is on-premise. I saw it as a business opportunity and hence chose this segment.”
The Beer Cafe opened its first outlet in 2012 in Gurgaon. In 2013, the company got its first round of institutional funding from Mayfield, a venture capital firm in the US, and the second round of funding from Mayfield again and Granite Hill Capital Partners in December last year. From one outlet in 2012, The Beer Cafe expanded to 28 outlets across 10 cities with nine presently being in the fit-out stage. Singh opines, “We should have 37 outlets in the next two months. In fiscal 2014 we ended with 12 outlets, 2015 with 22 outlets, and in 2016 we will have 37 outlets. We are opening two outlets per month. We are investing the entire money to open new outlets as we do not have burn rate, store losses.” Depending on the store size, the investment varies anywhere between Rs 60 lakh to Rs one crore per store, which includes the start-up capital to buy the first stock. “Next year we are looking at crossing the Rs 100 crore revenue mark,” proudly states Singh. The Beer Cafe outlets are present in Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Mohali, Amritsar, Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Bengaluru. “We will penetrate further into Maharashtra by opening more outlets in Mumbai and Pune. We will also enter Nagpur, Aurangabad and Kolhapur. A year from now, we will enter the eastern region as well,” he mentions.
The Beer Cafe prides itself for serving 50-60 different beer brands from 17 countries including Belgium, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, among others. It also serves eight to nine domestic beer brands.
Cheer with beer
The company set a new benchmark by successfully serving a million customers this year. The Beer Cafe commemorated the one million customer milestone by celebrating it with its customers. Beer enthusiasts visiting any of The Beer Cafe outlets from December 1-7, 2015 had a chance to enroll for the jack-pint that rewards one lucky winner with a complimentary beer stein every day of the year. “For us, this is more than just a big number, this is a milestone and a turning point. Our guests have always been our highest priority and this celebration is about honouring the power of one million cheers by celebrating the contribution of each and every one. We embarked on this journey with a mission to create a fun and responsible drinking culture. Having delighted a million patrons proves that we have achieved that,” says Singh. Additionally, e-contests were simultaneous launched across various social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to engage and reward users daily during the campaign. Here winners got a chance to celebrate their #oneinamillion moment and #beermore with gift vouchers and beer merchandise.