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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Meet Vinayak Lohokare who built Rs 19 cr food business from Rs 5 lakh

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Vinayak Lohokare launched Cafe Chocolicious in 2013 with Rs 5 lakh. He has also opened an eatery chain, called Chicken Affair, which has 10 outlets.

Vinayak Lohokare, then 24, opened his first Café Chocolicious location in Pune in 2013 with a Rs 5 lakh investment from a 300 sq ft rented facility.

After managing the outlet with two employees during the day and spending after-hours at the outlet till late at night, the mechanical engineering graduate from MIT, Pune, decided to quit his job a few years later, supported by his wife, and began to focus on his business full time. As a result of the franchise concept, the company expanded rapidly.

Chocolicious now has 70 franchise locations across Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, with a total revenue of Rs 15 crore. He has also created Chicken Affair, a restaurant business with ten locations and a current revenue of Rs 4 crore.

Vinayak considers his current existence to be a dream come true. “I was born into a middle-class household.”

Not unexpectedly, he opened his first cafe in Akurdi, Pune, near a college campus, in 2013. However, transitioning from an engineering profession to a culinary business was a major difficulty.

Vinayak completed his mechanical engineering degree in 2010 and was hired through college placement at The Continental Automotive, a German firm in Pune that manufactures car replacement parts.

Vinayak explains, “Although I followed in my father’s footsteps and studied engineering, I never had a strong interest in the technical profession. So, when I had the choice of working for the company’s technical or commercial divisions, I chose the latter. I’ve never liked working for someone else. I wasn’t interested in socializing with my coworkers or mingling with my bosses “says Vinayak as he tells his business experience. I was growing bored after two years at my work and wanted to start my own business. In my spare time after office hours, I began playing with the notion of opening a cafe for college students.”

He built the first coffeehouse using money borrowed from a friend. He had to keep it a secret from his folks at first. He managed with the assistance of two employees while continuing to work at his job. He worked at the café in the evenings after work until late at night.

Vinayak’s wife persuaded him to quit his work and devote his whole attention to his firm. “I began with a variety of coffees and handmade chocolate pastries. We started at Rs 20 and went up to Rs 120 for luxury products including burgers, sandwiches, fries, and rolls. Within a few months, we were making Rs 10,000 in sales each day,” Vinayak recalls.

Chocolicious now serves almost 90 items.

Kaffe With Icecream costs Rs 80, a Red Wine Sangria drink costs Rs 100, and a Vanilla Freak Shake costs Rs 150 at any Chocolicious café.

Vinayak started working at Garware Wall Ropes in 2015.

He also married Sharmilee Taramal, an architect, whom he had been seeing for two years. It was also time for a change in his business.

“I wanted to grow my business, but I needed to devote more time to it. My wife urged me to give it my all.’

He decided to take the plunge and left his job in order to concentrate on the business. “With five years of working experience under my belt, I was secure in returning to my career if the enterprise failed.”

In 2017, he founded Trigon Foods Pvt Ltd and quickly began to establish franchisees in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities throughout the nation, including Khammam, Kothagudem, Tirunelveli, Chikmagalur, Chittoor, Udhampur, Kota, and Surat.

Cafe Chocolicious employs around 300 individuals across 70 locations. Surprisingly, 70% of the stores are located near college campuses. These establishments employ around 300 employees.

“The interior design of the stores is handled by my wife, an architect and co-founder of the firm.”

“I’m in charge of marketing and business growth,” he explains. “Vinayak’s firm charges a one-time franchise fee of Rs 3.5 to 4 lakh each shop.”

In addition, the corporation earns a royalty from the sales.

Vinayak expanded his food chain company by introducing a new brand named Chicken Affair. It began in the year preceding the epidemic.

The brand has only two locations in January and February of 2021. They now have about ten outlets. Three to four more locations are on the way.

Chicken Affair has the same pricing range as Chocolicious. Spicy grilled chicken starts at Rs 80, while a Smokey BBQ Chicken Pizza costs Rs 160.

Sharmilee, Vinayaka’s wife and co-founder, is in charge of the shops’ interior design.

Vinayak does not want his entrepreneurial adventure to end here. In his expansion ambitions, another brand named Burger Unlimited, as well as an app for meat goods, are on the horizon.

Vinayak has a strong message for for young entrepreneurs. He wants them to believe in themselves when no one else does.

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