Rajat Jaiswal built a desi burger chain that now challenges the giants in the business. Wat-a-Burger clocks a Rs. 35 crore turnover.
When Rajat Jaiswal opened the first Wat-a-Burger location in Noida in 2015, he brought the fight straight to the doorsteps of a McDonald’s, where his workers made a daring and appealing offer to burger lovers: Taste our burgers – and if you don’t like them, we’ll refund your money. And no one ever requested a refund.
Rajat Jaiswal, a professional pilot, used the refund problem as one of the techniques he used to grow Wat-a-Burger into a Rs 35 crore turnover (2019-20) company in just four years.
Rajat, 35, is originally from Allahabad, where his father operates a logistics and transportation company. His mother is a housewife, and his older sister has been in the UK for 14 years.
Rajat graduated from St Joseph’s School (Allahabad) in 2004. He then enrolled at the Indian Institute of Aeronautics in Delhi to become an aeronautical engineer. In 2007, he was chosen for Spicejet’s Cadet Pilot Program. Spicejet sent them for pilot school and hired them after they finished.
Rajat attended Sabena Flight Academy in Phoenix, Arizona, for his one-and-a-half-year training. He began working at SpiceJet at the end of 2009 and remained there till 2015. He then went to work at Indigo, where he is still employed now. His ambition was to become a pilot, and he succeeded. But he also had a knack for business, which he may have acquired from his father.
He worked part-time in a call centre while studying aviation in Delhi. Rajat had previously had an ice cream shop before launching Wat-a-Burger.
“Through the call centre, I was marketing cellphones and a telecom network in the United Kingdom,” explains Rajat.
His classes began at 7 a.m., so he normally slept for 6-7 hours per day and tried to make the rest of his waking hours productive.
In 2015, Rajat invested Rs 25 lakh in Wat-a-Burger with his childhood friend Farman Beig. The two incorporated their firm as Super Fry India Pvt Ltd and opened its first store in Noida with only six staff. The first year’s revenue was Rs 75 lakh (2015-16), which was accomplished in only seven months of operation. Each year, the company expanded in terms of both turnover and the number of locations.They provided franchises, and the stores quickly spread to neighbouring cities.
Rajat says, “We make our own buns and distribute them to all of our locations. Premixes of the shakes are available.”
According to Rajat, the company-owned locations are where they refine their business model.
Today, there are 67 Wat-a-Burger locations throughout 15 states, including 11 in Delhi and many more in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities like Muzaffarpur, Muzaffarnagar, Patna, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jaipur, Surat, and Vadodara.
“We launched our first location in Noida Sector 18, a popular hangout for young people, school and college students,” says Rajat, who targeted this demographic, who previously flocked to McDonalds, KFC, or Burger King.
Rajat says, “Our goal was to acquire at least 50% of McDonald’s consumers and convert around 10% of them into recurring customers.”
Their burgers had a distinct Indian flavour and quickly gained popularity.
According to Rajat, all multinational manufacturers are attempting to tailor their burgers to their Indian clients.
He says, “We are not attempting to blend in, but we are the best fit for the market because, as Indians, we understand the Indian palate better.”
Their burgers range in price from Rs 29 to Rs 200.
Thirteen of the 67 Wat-a-Burger locations are owned by the corporation, while the remainder are entirely franchisees.
Rajat’s concentration on striving for perfection in his business is logical given his occupation as a professional pilot. He has been a pilot since 2009 and has over 8,000 hours of flight time.
Rajat’s wife is a fashion stylist with her own boutique and the couple has a two-year-old son and a ten-month-old daughter.