A love for donuts has grown this enterprise into seven units
When Bhuvanesh Subarayan expressed a willingness to start a donut house in Chennai, the idea was not well-received.
Market surveys suggested the city did not make a favourable market for the dough confectionery. His friends pointed out to Bhuvanesh that he had no prior experience in the food business. Today, the man from Tirupur presides over a thriving business that supplies Chennai with much of its donuts. Donut House, the enterprise he founded in 2011 now has seven outlets. Bhuvanesh is looking beyond, having done the spadework for operations in Kochi and Hyderabad.
Donut House, which operates under the brand Pandora Foods, provides an object lesson in running a start-up. For Bhuvanesh’s friends and associates, it has also become a metaphor for grit and gumption.
“I loved donuts but realised there were no outlets in Chennai whenever I visited the city,” said Bhuvanesh, who quit eBay in Sydney as procurement manager. “I went with my gut feeling that the market had huge potential.”
The major challenge before for the 27-year-old was getting the seed funding. His family funded half the amount, a bank loan covered the rest. “Executives who processed the loan did not know what donuts were, so I travelled to Singapore to give them a taste of donuts,” says the soft-spoken Bhuvanesh. While in Singapore, he took a three-month internship with a donut brand to learn the nuances of making the confectionery.
But there were still obstacles to be overcome. “Though I was confident that donuts will sell, my larger concern was about getting the right equipment. This business is extremely equipment-specific,” said Bhuvanesh.
With a 12-member team, Bhuvanesh launched two outlets simultaneously – one at Egmore and another at Express Avenue. “It was a test run; luckily we survived. Operationally, we broke even in the first month itself; we expected that to happen in six months.”
Bhuvanesh started with 16 varieties of donuts. Today, 45 different varieties of being served at the seven outlets. So, has Pandora Foods repaid all its loans? “We have, but we are also taking new loans for our expansion programme,” answered Bhuvanesh.