These sisters started with Rs 1 cr, to grow Theobroma into a Rs 121 cr business: Know how-

These sisters started with Rs 1 cr, to grow Theobroma into a Rs 121 cr business: Know how-


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At only 24, Kainaz Messman Harchandrai was bed-ridden due to a freak accident, something which she never expected to happen. Being an alumna of The Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Mumbai, and Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD), Delhi, Kainaz was a pastry chef at the Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur. She loved her job and being unable to it, wasn’t something she was prepared for. The doctor had said she couldn’t be a chef, as she had to be on her feet all day.

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But that didn’t stop Kainaz. She, along with her sister Tina Messman Wykes, founded Theobroma, a brand that has now achieved a cult status of sorts, back in 2004.

When they started off, coffee shops and patisseries weren’t that big. Star hotels were the only places where one could get such delicacies. They wanted to see if we could do the same, says Kainaz.

They would never enter a city without the kitchen space being perfectly set up. They wanted the perfect specifications, location, and kitchen for Bengaluru. The team was all set to expand the business in 2020 into several cities, but then the pandemic hit. Like every restaurant, Theobroma too suffered.

Hence, they focused on their digital/online business. Taking every precaution they could, they created a completely safe kitchen. When she couldn’t enter her kitchen, her team took charge. During the pandemic, their main concern was how the team would function.

Theobrama started online deliveries, helping contribute to 10-20% of the business. It helped them stay afloat while the team focused on the safety guidelines and norms.

Going from Rs 1 crore to Rs 121 crore - Since its launch in 2004, having a seed capital of Rs 1 crore, the sisters borrowed from their father, Theobrama has established itself as a leading food place. It has grown to 78 outlets across Mumbai, Delhi, NCR, Hyderabad, and Pune. Theobrama did a revenue of Rs 121 crore in FY21, aiming to double it this year.

Their father had one condition with the money - that they don’t return it back, but put it for a cause that he believed and supported in, says Kainaz. To this day, the family is an integral part of the business.

Food has always been an important part of their journey. Their mother would make some of the best recipes, often working nights for it. All the initial recipes, (including the walnut and chocolate chip brownies, the mawa cakes), came from their mother and are still used.

For quite a while, they only focused on getting things right in one place. No plans of expansion were in place. They only start expanding within Mumbai in 2013.

Building the business - Kainaz says that they made their fair share of mistakes, with hiring being one of the biggest ones. She says that she had no experience in recruiting, hence, they made mistakes. Hiring isn’t taken seriously in early days but they quickly realized it is the most important part of any business. They hired correctly after that and people who have been a part of the journey in the early days are still a part of Theobrama. Hiring a CEO in later part of the years around 2008 also helped grow the business.

In the initial days, the family would get deliveries out themselves. The company eventually raised $20 million from ICICI Ventures in 2010; that was used to help the company scale.

According to Kainaz, running a food business isn’t easy. There are shelves to be filled and you need to learn to give away control once a professional team comes in. But nevertheless, they kept at it.

Theobroma is now looking forward to doubling their revenue, expanding the business further, along with growing their online business.