The ThickShake Factory is a young enterprise that specializes in ice-cream-based shakes in a number of quirky flavours. Established in 2013 by a gifted duo of brothers, the brand has grown exponentially and currently has 81 outlets across the country including an outlet in California, USA. Co-Founders Yeshwanth and Ashwin Nag Mocherla speak to Food Service India about ThickShake‘s unique customer proposition and upcoming expansion plans.
Give us a brief description of your F&B brand and its evolution over the years.
The ThickShake Factory has been a pioneer in the concept of specialty retailing of dairy-based shakes. Our menu offerings satiate a consumer’s thirst for heavenly shakes with a dollop of icecream. Established in 2013 at Hyderabad with a single store bootstrapped with a personal loan, the brand has steadily grown to 81 stores across the country. We are operational in 15 Indian cities and also function in California, USA. ThickShake has been recognized as one of the fastest growing QSR chains in India. It has been a fun-filled and exciting ride and we have seen a number of ups and downs. The brand was carved out of our passion for desserts. We were inspired by the global trend of sweet savories and brought the most appealing range of delicious beverages to India.
Which are your best-selling products and what have been your key innovations in food and beverage?
The ThickShake Factory has actively changed the way the Indian population consumes cold beverages. We serve a concoction that constitutes ice-cream and only some milk, and have created a unique retailing category that is everything but conventional. The brand experiments with a number of chocolate and fruit based flavours not only in the form of shakes but also cold coffee variations, ice teas and slushes. Our menu includes eight base flavours and more than 50 additional ingredients and toppings. We also plan on introducing sugar-free shakes and organic flavours very soon. With a multitude of different bases and a ton of toppings, the Shape your Shake concept is a favorite among our consumers. It is always more exciting to create a specialized version of the product for consumers with specific preferences. Popular additions to the menu include Belgian chocolate, spicy chocolate and silky chocolate.
What is your value-for-money proposition for diners and which are your key customer demographics?
A wholesome product like ours can effectively replace an evening snack or even a light lunch. That is our key proposition and differentiating factor. Our shakes are easy on the pocket but also comfortably filling. The primary target group is school/ college students from ages 15 to 25. The secondary target group is working professionals from ages 25 to 35.
Which are the markets you are looking to expand into and what is the current average footfall at your stores?
We have signed up to open more than 115 outlets and are on a major expansion drive. Key target markets include Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune and the western region. Being the first Indian beverage chain to open a store in California, USA, we want to strengthen our international presence. International expansion plans involve markets such as Maldives, Dubai, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
We currently sell 7500 shakes every day. That’s over 10 shakes a minute!
What is your marketing and sales strategy and which tools do you use to promote the brand?
Given that a majority of our target consumers and potential franchise owners are highly active on social media, we try and utilize digital media as much as possible. With a vision to set up multiple outlets in the near future, we treat the digital medium as a tool for lead generation and expansion of our customer base. The aim is to create a unified and integrated brand awareness campaign, build a corporate framework and establish the brand as a thought leader in the category.
What kind of investment is needed for setting up a business under your format type and what is the minimum time for achieving break-even?
To set up an outlet spanning 200-1,000 sq. ft. Under the QSR/ casual dining format, one can expect an expenditure of Rs 22-35 lakh. The minimum break-even period is 15 to 18 months generally.
Tell us about the challenges of your business and how you manage them?
The concept of a continuous value chain is something we have regarded as a steady policy since our inception. The essential factor behind the success of any QSR brand is to have a continuous and well maintained value chain at the back end and uniform food quality at the front end. The process is daunting but customer satisfaction is what sustains the brand.
Please describe your brand’s key achievements so far and what do you attribute them to?
We are undoubtedly the fastest growing milkshake brand in the country. A dynamic leadership team, our prolific board of directors and the driven sales, marketing and operations team work together as a cohesive unit to contribute to the success of the brand. We have received a number of industry awards including Best Food & Grocery Brand of the Year (Times Network Marketing Excellence Awards, 2018), Best Beverages (The Times Nightlife Award, 2015, 2018), Franchisor of the Year (Franchise India, 2016) and IMAGES Most Admired Startup of the Year (Coca Cola Golden Spoon Awards, 2018).
In terms of your investment and expansion plans, what are your short-term and long-term goals for the Indian market?
Our immediate objective is to become the best shakes brand in the country with 200 stores by the end of 2018-19. The long-term goal is to set up 500 operational stores by 2020.