Last year a sweet shop with humble beginnings from bikaner reached a 20000 crore valuation the story begins at a time where young sri ganga bhishan agarwal fondly known as haldiram by his mother joined his father in helping him make and sell bhujia as a young boy he had observed his aunt’s bhujia recipe where she would use Mothki dal instead of besan haldiram adopted the same recipe and focused on making bhujia finer and crisper he went on to start a small shop in bikaner in 1937. he also added his own twist by adding a particular type of lentil known as matki as his shop and bhujia became popular he started selling it at a price of 5 rupees per kg as opposed to his father who sold it at the price of 2 paise per kg he parted ways with his father and grandfather’s business eventually and gave a brand to his bhujia by calling it dungar sev named after a ruler of bikaner maharaja dungar singh now dungar singh was not only a ruler he was also one of the most famous and influential people that began air knew by naming it dungar save he borrowed some of that trust and some of that influence that that name commanded a smart marketing move by a person who would build one of the largest brands in the country
Rise of Haldiram
After a decade later the bhujia dungar sev was so popular that his shop would sell 200 kgs of it every single week the price had also gone up from the original two pair sev per kg to 25 paise per kg. now one incident I want to bring your attention to is that in the 1950s haldiram and his wife were once visiting Kolkata for a wedding when he got the idea of starting a shop there while most people go to a wedding to enjoy entrepreneurs go there for expansion in 1957 haldi ram along with his two sons mulchand and rameshwar lal set up a shop called haldiram bhujia Vala in kolkata the shop became a success in a few years now over the next three decades the grandsons of haldiram expanded their business shiv kishan agarwal took the business to nagpur manohar lal and madhusudan agarwal took the business to delhi
One thing about delhi was that delhi was a fierce competitive playing ground bhujia was not a unique product there and they had to focus on innovating the product and the flavors to keep up with the competition however by 1983 shiv kishan had also expanded his business to delhi with the help of his brothers they had set up a house and a factory a few stories above a sick baker shop in chandni chowk during the 1984 riots the baker shop and the house and factory of the agarwal brothers were burnt down and destroyed the brother decided to build the business from the ground up and give it a brand new start very soon the business picked up and they turned their apartment into a factory trying to keep up with the demand this is one of the advantages of building a brand even if you fall to the ground it’s very easy for you to come back up now the single location was not enough and they set up their first factory in the late 80s now one issue that has been plaguing the haldiram’s brand for a very long time was family disputes haldiram had put territorial division the northern part was served by haldiram snacks and ethnic foods haldiram foods international served the western and southern part of the country and the kolkata-based haldiram bhujia wala served the eastern part when the kolkata-based business and family tried to enter the delhi region they refused to alter their brand name and as a result the grandsons of haldiram got involved in a dispute over trademarks and brand ownership.
By 90s they had started exporting their products to different countries despite the fighting however the brand continued to grow now imagine this for the customer right it would be so confusing to see two companies with the exact same names who do you buy from who do you have allegiance to are they the same company now to avoid all that the case went to court and it went on for 15 years finally in 2013 the court made delhi based haldiram the sole owner of haldiram bhujia wala now over the years the grandsons of haldiram expanded the business to multiple parts of india and eventually took it abroad and started stocking up in different parts of the world america.
In the financial year 2013 to 2014 haldiram’s revenues crossed 3500 crores more than the combined revenue of domino’s and mcdonald’s in India in the same financial year in 2017 haldi rams became india’s largest snack company surpassing pepsico in sales.
Haldiram brought in more than a billion dollars in revenue
Now a lot of you might be wondering what is their secret sauce why did they win the first thing is that they really focused on shelf life today they use nitrogen filled pouches for up to six months of shelf life and even use the tagline six months on the shelf and six seconds in your mouth second thing is that they realize that namkeen is an impulse buy for people if you want to package namkeen in well then you need to do so with very colorful packaging to attract that impulse buy and this brings me to our next point which is the haldiram’s brand stood not just for trust but also for celebration whenever somebody is in a celebratory mood they tend to end up spending more money and this is something that the alcohol brands have realized for a very long time but haldirams took a very different approach to the same thing finally they had deep offline distribution networks they had relationships with distributors they had relationships even with individual stores in the beginning and these relationships while it can’t be quantified as a large number was very easy for them to put their product into the hands of the people where they went the most finally and this is a approach that haldiram’s took that is the complete opposite of red bull was that they had full control of manufacturing and the ability to cost control whenever haldi rams felt that there was something that was too expensive they would bring down the cost themselves because they had full control of the process