Role model for entrepreneurs

Sunil Cherian, chairman and CEO, BurgerMan Foods India Pvt Ltd.

Sunil Cherian, chairman and CEO, BurgerMan Foods India Pvt Ltd.   | Photo Credit: -

Yogendra Kalavalapalli

Sunil Cherian, who started BurgerMan kiosk in Chennai, now owns ventures in Hyderabad and Bangalore

HYDERABAD: Eureka moment it was. At 22, Sunil Cherian was flipping for a business idea when hunger drove him to a restaurant in Chennai. Call it stroke of plain luck or whatever, he found himself seated next to the kitchen door and as he watched, the burger he ordered was served in a jiffy.

It was then that the bun base for BurgerMan was laid. Patty would soon be ready.

“I wanted to start a company which is 25 sq. feet, but had no idea what to start… As soon as I reached home, I drew 5x5 feet area on a chart and tried accommodating microwave and stuff into that space. I knew it had to be burgers,” Cherian recollects.

And in December 2006, with Rs.2 lakh investment, the first Burgerman kiosk opened outside Stella Marie College in Chennai.

Today, the tally from Chennai alone has gone up to 50 while Bangalore and Hyderabad boast of 25 and 30 of these 25-square-feet spaces respectively. Burgerman that began as Cherian's college project today is a profitable business venture doing a business of Rs.3 crore per annum, set to touch Rs.5 crore by the end of this year.

“I always wanted to start something big,” he says. But with limited budget at his disposal, Cherian veered towards making it big in terms of numbers.

Armed with a plan, he went about scouting for places in Chennai, which was when he realised how expensive real estate space was. “My business acumen is simple. I convince corporates to let out their extra space. I convinced supermarkets in Chennai to let me set up kiosks in their waste space and today they are huge businesses,” he says. Burgerman has tie-ups with nine corporates as of today.

Customer is the king

He makes it a point to position his outlet outside commercial spaces. “We don't want to be inside some building. We want to offer our customers the convenience of consuming our burgers on the go.” Isn't he apprehensive of being engulfed by international fast food chains?

“We see ourselves as an Indian brand selling an international product. Our taste is very Indianised,” the ‘Kiosk CEO', as Cherian is referred to in the media asserts.

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