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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Inspiring story of former Lt General’s son who built Rs 60 crore fast food chain Burger Singh

Kabir Jeet Singh was born into an army family and sent to a residential army public school at 13 where he studied till Class 12. His parents may have intended him to join the Indian army. After finishing his BBA, Kabir realized he would not like army life. His family supported him in his dream.

Every father hopes his son outperforms him. My father, a retired Lt. General, was an overachiever, so competing was impossible. “So, I chose a different path for myself,” says Kabir, creator of Burger Singh, one of India’s largest burger businesses. “I also realized that I’m too enterprising for the army’s rules. I desired freedom. That’s why I didn’t join the army.”

Kabir earned his MBA from University of Birmingham in the UK after four years in corporate America. He worked part-time in a burger shop where customers called him “Burger Singh” for his delicious burgers.

In 2014, Kabir opened the same-named Gurugram burger joint. Burger Singh, founded with Rs 15 lakh, now has 100+ locations in 14 states and a Rs 60 crore sales.

“I registered Tipping Mr. Pink Pvt. Ltd. and hired an old school friend, Nitin Rana, who had been with Pizza Hut since 2003. He was really experienced. “The first store had no tables and we focused on deliveries,” recalls Kabir, who started Burger Singh in a 98 sq ft location at Suncity Business Tower, Golf Course Road, Gurugram, with three staff.

Kabir, a gorgeous man with a salt-and-pepper face, debuted his wacky burgers with Punjabi tadka. Chicken Udta Punjab, Amritsari Murgh Makhani, Chicken United States of Punjab, and Chotu Singh Burgers are their unique burgers. To stand out, Kabir designed bigger, Indian-flavored burgers.

We started with 28 Indian state-themed burgers. Burgers cost Rs 150 and above. They charged more than major burger companies. We didn’t want to compete with McDonald’s since they were the pricing leaders. Kabir sees their brand identification strategy as successful. Burger Singh burgers were bigger than others and had an Indianized flavor, which was our USP. They opened more outlets and expanded swiftly with a delivery focus.

Their first store opened November 1, 2014. He opened three additional Gurugram outlets in six months. Our outlets were profitable by September 2015. Kabir believes it was rare for restaurants to become successful that quickly. Burger Singh earned Rs 3-4 crore the first year.

Kabir married marketer Aneez Mehta in 2015. Word-of-mouth grew the brand, and Ashwin Chadha and other angel investors invested $1 million in three tranches to expand.

We lost our delivery edge in 2017 when Swiggy and Zomato joined the market. Kabir, who launched a failed dine-in restaurant in 2018, believes Swiggy and Zomato disrupted the sector. Kabir entered QSR after Swiggy and Zomato arrived.

Kabir expanded via franchising and using the QSR concept. He raised Rs 38 crore from brand-trusting investors. The Covid epidemic delayed their store openings by a few months.

As the lockdown eased, they opened their stores, and their FY 2020-21 turnover reached Rs 21 crore, up from Rs 12 crore the year before. “Unlike other businesses, we grew during Covid. Kabir hopes to reach Rs 100 crore this year. They have 54 locations across 14 states, with 34 in Delhi-NCR. Over 60% of their stores are franchised.

“Burger Singh takes up all my time and I have no time for anything else,” Kabir chuckles when asked about his hobbies. Our gorgeous puppy is our only child. I’ve lived in Gurugram for 12 years, the longest I’ve lived anywhere.

He misses Army Public School, Dagshai, a picturesque Himachal Pradesh hill station where he studied up to Class 12. Most pupils wanted to join the army since their parents were army officers.

The school prepared us for the Indian army. Kabir says he learned a lot and made fantastic friends there. “We did hill sprints at 5:30 am. School was followed by four hours of athletics. We learned tennis, badminton, horseback riding, and climbing. School shaped me.”

Kabir earned his BBA in 2002 from Post Graduate Government College, Sector 11 in Chandigarh. Before earning his MBA in 2006 in the UK, he founded a sales training firm after working in many sales organizations.

From 2008 to 2011, he worked at a London beverage and petrochemical firm. Kabir returned to India in 2011 and founded Burger Singh after working at a Delhi bar chain for two years.

Newsdesk

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