The melting pot of different cultures, Chennai. One of the four biggest cities of India, which is full of life and zeal. When it comes to food, it has its unique taste and its own special recipes. The warmth and hospitality of the people of Chennai are known to all those who have visited this culturally rich place. And when it comes to hard work Chennaites are no less than anyone.
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. With this thing in mind, an 18-year boy started his journey toward being a successful entrepreneur.
The age of 18, the teenage when a kid started experiencing the taste of real life and when most of the people are more into their studies and making a career decision. In between there comes a person with a spark of dedication in him, Nishant Vijayakumar, who has the welcoming approach to overcome all the obstacles of life. At the very small age of 18, he has not only decided what he had to do in his life, but also finalized everything, which can give wings to his career.
"All the destinations that reach to Success has to pass through the Road of Hard Work". Nishant Vijayakumar, a 25 Year Young Entrepreneur from Chennai who not only has started his brownie business but also has made it successful with all his hard work and determination and opened 3 new outlets across Chennai, within the span of 11 months of its inception. Food has always been a center stage for Nishant. He always has a fascination for various cuisines and good taste, but the journey was started at a pitch of the playground when Nishant used to play cricket for Under 17 and Under 19 Tamil Nadu Team. "I loved good food and new food experiences. In my travels with the State cricket team and other teams as a team member, I always looked forward first to the exciting food which they offer. Each city had its own food culture and style of preparation and it was truly delightful to try various cuisines."
Remembering about his cricket time Nishant said,
"The first thing I would look for, when we used to travel for playing cricket would be the Menus for the day (breakfast, lunch etc) at the respective grounds. The condition of the pitch, the weather, etc had been always secondary to me."
The most important decision in anyone's life is about choosing a career and making a decision on it. After all, our entire life and future lie on that one decision and when it comes to changes in the career, for that one need the real guts. On asking if it was easy or difficult for him to switch his career from Cricket to Food Industry; he said that when he decided to switch career, it was not at all difficult for him, In the words of Nishant, " I think the food was a natural calling. It was always an industry that is challenging, creative and would always keep me on my feet. Played sports since I was 6, I did not think that I would fit into a desk job."
Change is the only thing in this world which is Constant. All the changes are not welcomed at first, but as the time passes, they are gradually accepted. While it was contrary, changes in Nishant's career were more than welcoming. At the age of 18, Nishant decided to make a switch and move into the food industry. Mostly, parents don't agree for the education fields like hotel managements and they prefer a conventional type of education. But talking about Nishant's parents, they never opposed him and always helped him in his decisions and we all can see the results of Nishant's success at this age. He swiftly told us....
"After the decision of career switching, I was advised by my family to have experience first and it was very helpful to me, if I can have experience in the first hand and that too work in a kitchen & running a business was something I always wanted."
Then, he started his journey of becoming a chef under his mentor Chef Anand in his restaurant CORNUCOPIA. Mr. Anand is still mentoring him. Nishant avowed, "I trained at Cornucopia for around 5 months in various sections of the kitchens and got my first insights that how kitchen functions are done and so on. I also got trained for a couple of months at COPPER CHIMNEY."
After successful completion of internships at both the places, to polish his skills and leanings, he decided to go for Hotel Management studies and joined the Hotel Management program at the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal with the singular focus of becoming a Chef. After, graduating as a gold medalist from his college, he worked in different places. Nishant told us "I have worked in 7 hotels and 6 restaurants till date at various positions and quit the hotel industry as a Junior Sous Chef with ITC Hotels."
It is a saying that, the end is just a beginning of something and quitting from hotel industry was not the final destination for Nishant, but was a beginning of a new phase of his life. Nishant knew his potentials and capabilities, and merely working in the hotel industry was not his cup of tea. He then decided to take a risk and set out with something, in which no one could ever replace him, where he can create some values. Nishant had that courage that whenever he look back and asked himself for the risk he had taken, he could say at least he took that step without bothering for success or failure.
After Graduating from the college and just before joining ITC, Nishant sold brownies on "made to order" basis for two months on the experimental basis and got the touch of luck and he succeeded. An interesting part was that he never really thought of going for the Brownie Brand. Nishant told us "I did not intend to start off with a 'Brownie' brand as such and I am working on 'product-centric' brands as I believe that quality, consistency and most importantly, customer recall will be higher when you stick to particular products. The Brownie brand was the easiest to begin with after I quit my hotel job and I am blessed that it has taken off really well."
Nishant recalls, it was hardly a week's time, after giving resignation from ITC "Brownie Heaven" came into existence. As it is said, just like a tree need water for nourishment, same way business also needs the nourishment of funds to make a successful venture. Letting us know his initial investment Nishant said "The initial capital investment was not too high for this business. The source of finance was 80 % my dad and 20 % what I had managed to save up. I have not taken any loans as such yet, nor have I approached any investors for funding." So what was started at "made to order" basis, gradually grew into a decent setup, and the outlet which is on Peters Road, Royapettah was his first outlet. In future, for the expansion of his brand he can approach a financial institution, "However, I definitely will approach investors soon as this model is easily scalable and returns will be good in the long run", added Nishant
The Future Expansion and Dimensions
If we talk about the expansion and dimension, Nishant presently has expanded his Brownies in different mouth watering and delicious flavors. He made Brownies so special with all flavors like Classic, Peppermint, Orange Peel, Rum, Nutella and etc. and all these favors must be delicious and ravishing that we are sure. Brownies are such things with which children can easily associate. For attracting children towards Brownies, Brownie Heaven has created and come up with the new invention called "DOUGHNIE". "It is a chocolate chip cookie dough exterior and a gooey brownie interior. Everybody has loved this creation and I sold more than 200 brownies in 2 days at a recent event" declared Nishant.
When he was asked for the expansion of Brownie Heaven nationally and internationally, giving the reference of being a product-centric business, he said that unlike most food business this product and model is easily scalable. "Yes, I am looking at expanding Brownie Heaven pan-India. I have 2-3 more outlets planned in Chennai and have received more than 10 queries to set up in cities like Pune, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Delhi etc. and I am looking into these and when the time is right, I will expand." He also told us that he will be starting to courier brownies across India soon. Orders can be placed through the website www.brownieheaven.in once he's ready to start. Meanwhile, considering customer satisfaction and the timely delivery of brownies across the city (Chennai) he has tied up with different companies as a third party delivery partner like Swiggy, Genie, Easy Bikes, Roadrunnr, Dinein, Zomato etc. and they are taking care of the logistics part of operations.
As he said that he is more focusing on the product Centricity, so his new dimensions & future segments would also be produced Centric. In the words of Nishant "Yes, apart from brownies I am working on various product centric brands. I would love to open something to do with Dim Sums/ Tacos/ Samosas etc. When the time is right, I am sure everything will fall in place"
Dim Sums/Tacos/Samosas, etc. Yumm. if they are so Mouth Watering in listening, then they would definitely be delicious, when tasted that we are absolutely defined. Chennai is an Old School when it comes to food and cuisines like Idli Sambhar, Dosa, Uttapam etc. are very close to people's heart there. Nishant has fetched a novel idea of selling Brownies, however, brownies were being sold as a dessert item in most restaurants, but the quality of the brownies was not great. The idea of introducing Brownie to the people of Chennai surprisingly doing great with flying colors. Letting us know about the acceptability of brownies in cities like Chennai, he said "Yes, Chennai is more conservative than other cities. Even now most of the Chennaite does not know what a brownie is, but I am glad that with the opening of Brownie Heaven, people are willing to be more experimental and try out various flavors and combinations."
But as it is said No big thing comes without a price, the more you face the challenge the sweeter will be the taste of success. Nishant feels that the market of a food business and its demand is changing gradually; people are becoming more welcoming to accept the change and try a new thing. But still, it's a challenge, as it is a long way to go "There were challenges initially and there will continue to be. As long as your product is great, there is no need to worry. The key differentiating factor in my brownie and it's texture. The challenge for me is to get people to try it once and after that, I am sure they will be hooked." Nishant Said.
As it is said that "All glory comes from daring to begin" and so the courage which Nishant has taken is now glorified with all the fame. But the journey of this young entrepreneur was not easy. He has left his job, he was about to start his own venture and now he has a long way to cross. Initially, it was extremely tough for him, he was alone and he has to manage all the things. But on the same hand, he was extremely determined and his singular focus was to get people to taste the brownies; that was indeed the complex process. Nishant said "My parents have been supportive throughout my journey and my dad helped with all the compliance and governance issues. After 3 weeks of operations, I hired my first employee and I still feel he was a God send." He was indeed a helping hand for him as it was a time when his new and first employ started managing the operations part then only Nishant was able to take care regarding expansion and marketing.
Letting us know, more about his initial journey, Nishant told us "At that time I used to manage purchase, stores, operations, order taking, handling social media, designing posters, baking and delivered by myself. I have personally delivered brownies to more than 700 customers." Nishant was the one man army at that time. He said that there was a time when he had orders of mere 1-2 Kgs of Brownies a day, but today on an average he takes an order of more than 20 kgs brownie.
Commenting on the present scenario, he declared that currently he has 8 employees working at his central kitchen facility and at his flagship outlet. "There is no hierarchy as such; I still continue to handle purchase, stores, marketing, admin, operations, R & D and occasional deliveries as we work as a team and there is no hierarchy in the kitchen/outlet etc."
Working and handling all the work single-handedly, Nishant has proved that if you have determination and Love for your work, No mountain is big for you. Youngsters must learn the lesson of dedication and devotion towards their work. Presently youth is more focusing on starting their own career as an entrepreneur, which we generally call Start-Ups. But many of them are not as lucky as Nishant who get successful; some got closed because of lack of experience, some due to lack of resources, and there are many other factors. But according to Nishant,
"Lack of resources should never ever stop you from becoming an entrepreneur. You have to be 'Resourceful' enough to find those resources!"
Proceeding further and giving the tip to green entrepreneur who have a dream to start something of their own, he firmly said, I strongly believe that you need to have the following things to be successful:
1. A singular focus
2. Drive and determination
3. High emotional quotient
4. Mentally prepared to deal with challenges. Because there will be times when everything can go wrong and how you deal with the situation at hand is what will define you.
6. A key differentiating factor
7. Willingness to explore the unexplored
Yes! If you want to achieve something, then you should never give up, nothing is impossible to achieve. As it is truly said, Reach for the sky because if you miss, you will still be among the stars. Sharing his experience and survival tips with us and all, he also advised young entrepreneurs "Have a USP and stick to it, no matter what, there will be people who will give you various perspectives and views, but you must have concentration on the good points."
His views about the educational Portal BrainBuxa and its initiative in the education field is "It is heartening to see such education portals when I was in school or college there were not many of these portals. Brainbuxa will help inspire youth and also let them believe that there are a lot of avenues to succeed. When students read about fellow individuals who dare to follow their bliss and succeed it will definitely inspire them too. I feel that parents also must be open to their children pursuing what they really love. They must let them decide for themselves what to do and give them the freedom to fly as high as they can, irrespective of the field. There is so much of the information that is provided on Brainbuxa and it is a great platform for students. Keep it up!"
"Devote yourself to an idea.
Go make it happen.
Struggle with it.
Overcome your fears. Smile, don't you forget THIS IS YOUR DREAM." With this note, we would like to congratulate Mr. Nishant Vijay Kumar on successful opening of three outlets of Brownie Heaven across Chennai as he proved that if you believe in yourself and struggle for what you want to be, one day will come when you will be actually Cherishing your dream.!!
If you like this interview and have some queries from Mr. Nishant, then you can ask it in the comment box given below. Brainbuxa welcomes all stories which can inspire people and has done something out of the crowd!