While growing up in Chennai, Samrat Reddy frequented the neighbourhood juice and smoothie shops. “I was not too much of a tea, coffee enthusiast, so I gravitated towards smoothies,” says 33-year-old Reddy.
When he shifted to Australia and then to the UK, Reddy observed that the number of cafes serving coffee were far greater in number compared to shops serving smoothies. “I was sure if smoothies were as readily available as tea and coffee, a large number of people would take to them as a lifestyle choice,” says Reddy.
Looking to fill this gap in the market, inspired by his own experience, and backed by an extensive research that he carried out on the potential of the smoothie market, Reddy decided to give wings to his ideas. He founded Drunken Monkey in December 2015 and operations started in February 2016. The Hyderabad-headquartered company works on a franchise model and has established 60 stores across 16 cities in just about two years.
“I wanted to do to smoothies what Starbucks did to coffee. People want a space for meaningful social connections without restricting themselves to the regular coffee and tea outlets. Smoothies are the new social lubricant in the town,” says Reddy, Founder and MD. To provide patrons a relaxed café-like ambience, Drunken Monkey bars offer free Wi-Fi, board games and comic books too.
The startup has created 170 varieties of smoothies, made from locally-sourced, natural ingredients, without preservatives. The idea is to create a new market and offer a new lifestyle option to people. “Major retail food and beverage chains have stuck to the proven formula of a limited and focused menu. But I wanted to try something different and spoil the customer for choice,” says Reddy.
From fresh fruit shakes to detox smoothies to protein smoothies, the range is wide. The bar even offers a variant it claims helps people recover from ‘a night of partying’. But with variety have come challenges: Managing the logistics of the business has become quite demanding, customers get confused on what to order and take longer time deciding on the order.
Reddy insists that despite the problems, variety helps the business: “We are here for the long haul and our repeat customers continue to be fascinated by how much more they have to explore. Why not give them the freedom to choose?”
Founded with an investment of Rs 4 crore— spread over a year—put in by Reddy and his family, Drunken Monkey generated Rs 29 crore in revenue in 2017-18. The startup aims to increase its stores to 100 in 2018-19 and more than treble its revenue to Rs 100 crore in the current financial year.
“Besides smoothies, our R&D team is working on some food options as well and we will bring them out in August. The pace at which we are growing gives us the confidence to meet our revenue target,” says Reddy.
Winner of the ‘Best Juice Parlour of the Year 2017’ by Restaurant India, the startup’s current challenge is to educate customers on the health benefits of smoothies: “Smoothies are fruits in liquid form and fruits are among the healthiest forms of food. It is exceedingly important to communicate what the product is and why it is good. Drunken Monkey sees itself as a crusader for the smoothie revolution,” says Reddy.
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