Sitting at Skye Barr at a height of about 175 feet above the ground level, listening to Mr Amit Roy and Mr Anupam Sehgal, partners at Think Tanc, you start building castles in the air. Hey, can I start a salad bar? Or, maybe a South Indian catering service or just a lounge bar?
“Anybody who can cook well or has a bit of extra money stashed away thinks he or she can venture into the food and beverage (F&B) business and later realise that it's not that easy,” quips Mr Amit, sending your dreams crashing.
Mr Anupam and Mr Amit have partnered to help set up Bangalore's most happening bars — Skye Barr, Fireflies, The Bierre Club, Fluid — and a host of other restaurants and cafeterias.
They call Think Tanc, their company, a turnkey solutions provider to the hospitality sector. But why such a mundane name like Think Tanc when they give their clients' ventures such exotic names. “For lack of time. We started the venture and on the way for a client meeting decided on a name for our venture,” laughs Mr Amit.
“So, Think Tanc gives ‘A to Z' solutions to the F&B sector, including feasibility study, getting a name for the outlet, the menu design, deciding on the location for the outlet, the hiring of the staff, the kitchen and the bar design and for the inexperienced entrepreneur, even run the venture as long he or she wants it,” says Mr Amit. He says Think Tanc is here to minimise the failure level of an entrepreneur in the F&B industry.
So, where does the duo's confidence stem from? They then reveal that they have been in the hospitality industry for over a decade. While Mr Anupam is the ex-CEO of Opus, also a lounge bar in Bangalore, Mr Amit has worked as a consultant in the industry, with about 30 years of experience between them. Second, the duo firmly believes that anyone starting out a new venture in the hospitality industry should go about it scientifically and not just for the love of food. Mr Amit and Mr Anupam explain how one can set up a venture in the food business: Once the budget is ready, you can reveal your secret desire to Think Tanc. The company then works on a complete feasibility report giving you three options in terms of the speciality, location, menu design, ambience and pricing. Once that's settled, it generally takes Think Tanc anywhere between 90 and 120 days to get your F&B venture up and running.
Meanwhile, they have hired your staff, got your kitchen equipment, ordered your furniture and even got the licence for the bar. “But we don't get into the real estate part of the business as it involves legal hassles. We identify the site for the client who has to acquire it on his own,” they clarify.
The inexperienced owner
Think Tanc also offers an option of running the business for the inexperienced owner for as long he or she wishes. For instance, the partners have been running Skye Barr for over six months now. For all these services, the company only charges a flat fee and not a cut in the profits, points out Mr Amit.
Think Tanc has advised a whole range of businesses in the F&B sector: catering ventures, corporate cafeterias (Google and Accenture), kitchens of large hotels, restaurants (Pizzeria Romano), takeaway joints to lounge bars. The company is also setting up cafes for Ducati in India in the next three months, apart from driving the hospitality verticals of two large business houses. Think Tanc's ideas have been converted into reality in Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati and Mysore, with ventures coming up in Pune and Hyderabad.
The Think Tanc team is motivated by India's growing fascination with eating out. “Eating out, which was occasion-led a decade ago, has become need-based now. Also with people travelling more and eating a variety of foods, all kinds of new specialty restaurants are in demand. For instance, about 10-15 years back, pasta was an unknown dish. Today most middle-class households eat it regularly. The diner is more knowledgeable,” points out Mr Amit.
Training school on cards
On plans for Think Tanc, he says there is no adrenalin rush to expand rapidly and take up more than they can chew.
“As the industry is starved of trained talent, we plan to start a training school for the F&B sector. While technical skills are necessary, it's soft skills that win the guests over in the industry,” they point out. So while Think Tanc will charter the growth of many F&B businesses in the country, they'll make sure these ventures would also have professionals running them.