In 2016, Nidhi and Shikhar Singh faced a pivotal choice that resonates with many entrepreneurs: sacrifice or stock dilution. Having recently spent their first night in their Bengaluru apartment, the couple made the bold decision to sell their humble abode and channel the proceeds into their nascent start-up, WoknStove Foodworks Pvt Ltd. Their venture, known for its innovative samosas under the brand name Samosa Singh, had just begun operations two months earlier and required a larger, mechanized kitchen to cater to corporate orders. The Singh duo opted to give it all in for their dream and embarked on the journey to make everyone fall in love with their samosas.
The people behind Samosa Singh
Nidhi and Shikhar’s paths intertwined when they were studying biotechnology at Kurukshetra University. They both shared a love for samosas. Shikhar, during his time at the School of Life Sciences in Hyderabad, identified a dearth of hygienic, fast food-style options for Indian snacks, especially samosas. He shared his idea of doing a start-up around the same with Nidhi, who was skeptical about the idea at that time, and thus, it didn’t move forward. Nidhi embarked on a marketing and sales career in the pharmaceutical industry after graduation, while Shikhar pursued his love for biotech at Biocon. However, discussions at home inevitably circled back to samosas and the untapped potential for innovation in this Indian culinary staple. Thus after much deliberation, they decided to dive into it.
Samosas filled with Innovation
With Nidhi securing a work-from-home arrangement at her company, the ambitious couple leased a tiny kitchen, hired a team of cooks, and started the R&D. For four months, Shikhar tirelessly experimented with various fillings and crusts while the cooks churned out batch after batch of samosas. They set clear goals from the outset: their samosas would offer hygiene and innovation. The quest for a healthier, non-greasy product led Shikhar to leverage his biotech expertise, resulting in a unique dough composition that absorbed less oil. Additionally, the samosas took on a distinct shape, ensuring minimal oil absorption and leaving no tell-tale stains on one’s palms.
Armed with valuable market testing feedback, Nidhi and Shikhar opened a modest quick-service restaurant (QSR) outlet in Bengaluru’s Electronic City. Nidhi managed the billing counter while Shikhar and a dedicated team of helpers fried the samosas in their compact kitchen. The response was overwhelming, with daily orders skyrocketing to 500 within just two months.
Taking the Big Step
Fuelled by Nidhi’s sales and marketing acumen, the couple ventured into the corporate catering space. After persistence and numerous cold calls, they finally secured a meeting with a prominent German engineering company. This opportunity presented a significant challenge of delivering 8,000 samosas daily. Realizing the need for a larger kitchen, Nidhi and Shikhar made the courageous decision to sell their apartment and establish a spacious facility. They not only met the corporate order but also perfected their product.
Expansion of Samosa Singh
Nidhi and Shikhar, determined to expand Samosa Singh beyond traditional outlets, adopted a strategic approach for growth. Instead of opting for quick-service restaurants or their own physical stores, they targeted prominent clients such as INOX, PVR, Café Coffee Day, and TCS.
To forge relationships with corporate clients, the couple also organized week-long samosa festivals. These events proved to be highly successful, generating significant revenue and fostering loyalty among corporate employees. Recognizing the need for expanding operations, Nidhi and Shikhar understood that the time was ripe to seek external funding and embark on a multi-city expansion. Aware of Kanwaljit Singh’s reputation for supporting small companies, Shikhar suggested Nidhi meet him. After several failed attempts, she finally managed to speak with Kanwaljit over the phone one weekend, leading to a meeting that eventually resulted in undisclosed funding.
Today, Samosa Singh operates from a highly automated kitchen capable of producing 10,000 samosas per day. The brand’s distinctiveness lies in its unique flavors, ranging from Butter Chicken to Kadhai Paneer, catering to diverse palates. With 40 stores across India, Nidhi and Shikhar have achieved remarkable success, earning approximately Rs.12 lakh per day from samosa sales alone. Their relentless pursuit of hygiene, innovation, and affordable prices has endeared them to customers nationwide. They transformed Samosa Singh into a thriving business, capturing the hearts and taste buds of Indian snack enthusiasts across the country.
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