Mumbai, the city of dreams, that finds many unknown faces enter it every night, trying to find their place in the world, trying to make their mark.
This is the story of one such bright yet struggling man, whose face bore the marks of hope, a man named Narayan T Poojari.
Who is Narayan T Poojari?
Belonging to a small village in the Uduppi district of Karnataka, Narayan was a young child, looking to help his family out of poverty when he came to Mumbai at the age of 13. His grit and efforts led him to work several day jobs, from hotels to canteens, he didn’t stop surviving. For ten long years, he kept on going, till he was 23 and till he turned his life around.
A smart mind indeed, Narayan figured out the need to cater to the rising youth of the city, with the trendy dishes like Pao bhajis and dosas, with minimum competition existing in this business. Even without any money of his own, Narayan bagged an investor and launched Bombay Shiv Sagar, in Churchgate Area, in old school 1990 Mumbai.
Bombay Shiv Sagar was a venture that he developed from scratch, a venture which started with an investment of Rs 40 lakhs which now gives an annual turnover of Rs 75 crores. He ensured to make his menu unique, keep restaurants open till 2 am and conquer the market.
His USP was providing good food in great quantity, make his restaurants a place for both the young and the old with a pinch of great hosting staff.
What worked right?
After business started, advertising was the crucial part to take care of, especially when the finances were no so high and free-flowing. Narayan played it smart by going the offline way in the 1990s, tapping the most loved place in the city, the theatres.
He got a 6-month advertising deal at various theatres in return of supplying 1 lakh worth of orders, giving him the window to not only raise awareness but also supply samples.
With locally sourcing raw materials and now managing 1300 employees, Bombay Shiv Sagar has come a long way. The business has gone online, counting on its marketing budget to help. It’s funny how things fall in place.
How have things been recently?
The business exists in three cities, with Narayan’s daughter Nikita helping it venture into newer models of business since she joined work in 2017.
With a premium restaurant named Butterfly High and the launch of The Bigg Small Café Bar arm, the plan of action has been to target different markets. The prime reason for the casual dining chain to be slightly slow on the expansion business is that it works on a self-funding model only, with investing direct money into newer ventures.
However, Narayan hasn’t slowed down, not even after three decades of business. He ensures his brand name doesn’t get stolen, tapped corporate houses via smart offers maintains quality by personally visiting shops.
The business saw its ups and downs, like when their venture called Fish N Bait miserably failed in 2017 or when it opened its 15th outlet in the state and sales skyrocketed.
What Narayan T Poojari’s journey has taught us, very few stories can: to be motivated, to be inspirational and to think, because when you want to take the leap, you need to know how big the gap is and how high can you jump.