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“Inflation has little effect on holiday sales in India”

NEW DELHI : Kitchen appliance and cookware brand Wonderchef, co-founded by Ravi Saxena (former director of Sodexo India) and chef Sanjeev Kapoor, has entered two new categories: Coffee Machines and Rental Appliances. devices. The 13-year-old company, which counts Amicus Capital, Sixth Sense Ventures and Godrej family office among its investors, is planning rapid expansion. In an interview, Saxena spoke about India’s growing coffee culture and a strong festival season ahead. Edited excerpts:

You fundraised with Sixth Sense last year. Will you raise more money?

We are growing rapidly. So next year maybe we can start fundraising again. Last year we grew by 30% and this year we are growing by nearly 40%. Naturally, working capital is necessary for such high growth. In addition, we invest heavily in design and development. For example, we launched a full stack of nine coffee machines because coffee is happening in India.

We design the machines because 92% of Indians drink latte, unlike in the West, where most people drink black coffee – espresso and americano. Here we have to design high milk density machines with built-in foam.

So, starting with a simple machine that costs about 1,500, we have the fully automatic machine that gives you a complete cappuccino, including the milk froth. It is at the price of 90,000 and will be launched around Diwali. Others that cost between 14,000 and 17,000 can get you Starbucks-style coffee at home.

Thus, the passion for coffee is on the rise.

It is already happening. I recently went to a medium sized mall in Mumbai and found 11 coffee outlets, each selling a cup of coffee at 350 to 450 and each with customers. Opportunities are differentiated. Some are like Starbucks and Café Coffee Day, where you sit down and have a pleasant experience. Others are just coffee carts in the atrium.

How much of your business do you see coming from coffee machines in the future?

Maybe 8 to 10% in two years. Constantly, every day, 16,000 machines sell more than 10,000 units, and the 10,000 beat those at the cost of 6,000. So the pyramid is inverted.

You also started an appliance rental business.

Yes, it’s called WondeRent. It all started with coffee machines, but customers can rent any of our machines for more than 3,000. Our target audience for this is millennials who want good things in life instantly. But they don’t want to own homes or durable goods and appliances. They prefer to rent and may want to upgrade soon. I see this business growing. We use a third party company that developed the system for us. You can go to our site, and instead of the Buy Now button, you press Rent Now. Everything from delivering the product to the consumer and collecting rent is done by the third-party company.

What is your sense of demand for the festival season?

It started well. It had been feared that due to various inflationary pressures and other global uncertainties, there could be a problem. But I think the festival season in India is pretty much independent of all those pressures. I see a strong season building.

Won’t rising prices have an impact on demand?

In the past year, we’ve taken three price hikes as shipping and commodity costs have gone crazy. Since January 2021, the total percentage increase taken is 20-25%. But despite this, we have increased by 30%.

How much digital media do you use to advertise?

We are approximately 10 times larger in our social media assets than any other brand in our industry. We have nearly 2 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and do a lot of content-based marketing. We advertise on Google, Facebook, Amazon and Flipkart marketing systems.

What about television?

We have a campaign, but I don’t think we have been able to use it effectively because television requires huge budgets. In my opinion, for TV, if you don’t have 50 crore to spend, don’t. You won’t even cut through the clutter.

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