While there are many management students who enroll for their programs with entrepreneurial dreams, not many actually go on to achieve their goals. And every rarely do you hear of students setting up a business while pursuing their management program. Richie Richa Das, second year student at KIIT School of Management (KSOM), Bhubaneswar has managed to do just that as she opened her restaurant “Chulhaa”, in the city. Here as she talks about her journey from a student to an entrepreneur, the challenges she faced, Richie serves up a healthy dose of inspiration to her contemporaries.
She admits that owning a restaurant was always a dream, but it was a minor adversity that Richie turned into an opportunity by turning entrepreneur. “My internship was delayed by a month and I didn’t want to just sit at home doing nothing. I had a few ideas about opening a restaurant and I started working on them in a month,” she says. To her surprise things started falling into place sooner than she expected. Within a couple of months she had not only scouted locations in Bhubaneswar but had the restaurant up and running too.
Richie claims that she was never going to run shy of the hard work that was involved, but buying a fully functional restaurant turned out to be a masterstroke. Talking of the birth and early days of Chulhaa, she says, “I was involved in everything, from finding the restaurant to cooks. We serve Indian, Chinese and Tandoor items and the business has been doing really well. The only problem I faced was that it is far away from my college. So I started evening snacks, which I personally deliver to the rooms every day.”
While setting up of the restaurant was a brisk process, Richie put in a lot of thought and understanding of management concepts from the word go. She agrees that the choice of location was a challenge but her market research helped. “I went through the menus of a couple of dozen restaurants in the city to figure out the food people might prefer. I also realized that these places lacked quality and decided that I was going to offer people that. We don’t charge a lot at the restaurant but maintain high quality in all ingredients including meat,” she adds proudly.
Richie also talks about the dilemma she faced while dealing with the finance aspect of the business. But the now seasoned-with-experience management student made the right call. “The choice was between having a Franchise business or partnership. I advised my father against the former because you have to give a bulk of the profits to Franchise. It’s okay to start with something small but have a strong USP, which for me is the food we serve,” she says with a lot of conviction and confidence.
She agrees that a lot of it comes from her learning at the institute, which equipped her with marketing and people’s skills that helped her attract patrons to her restaurant. Richie is also grateful to her faculty members and classmates, who have supported her endeavour. “Everyone has been very supportive, especially Director, Dr. Anil Bajpai, who has been giving me helpful advice. In fact, many of my faculty members have been coming to me with suggestions on their own, which I truly appreciate,” she states.
Richie might be a newbie entrepreneur but she has big ambitions for the future. Her imminent plans include a live barbeque, a concept for young couples and a seafood range. Over the next five years she hopes to set up several concept restaurants across the city. Ask her if she has figured out what it takes to be an entrepreneur and pat comes the reply, “Patience is the most important skill you need to have. You also need to dream with your eyes open because if you dream like everyone else, with your eyes closed, when you open them you think things will not happen. But I believe they will,” says the girl, who seems set to chart her own path to success.