Jumboking bets on a buoyant India story


Jumboking's Dheeraj Gupta believes that this decade will see the coming of age of Indian brands. As India is heading towards becoming one of the three largest economies in the world, the time has come for Indian brands which understand India better to become billion-dollar brands. Jumboking is moving towards this. The Week caught up with Dheeraj Gupta, the Founder of Jumboking to discuss his vision. 

1.  You have recently featured as India's third largest burger brand after McDonalds and Burger King. What are the factors that have contributed to this? 

This  is purely a reflection of the love of our customers.  We are constantly putting in the work to delight them in new ways. We know that the customer we are servicing today is more smart, global and aware of their choices than ever before. At the same time, their assessment of what is valuable to them is getting more and more nuanced. We have to be completely in tune with this busy, upwardly mobile customer, in order to have enough sales per hour per store. 

The other thing is that we have always been malleable as a brand- the cities we are growing in, are building mega-structures as we go along. Travel routes, travel modes, manner of working etc are fluid. Consumers are seeking speed, convenience and a brand that recognises them for who they are. Our loyalty program called JK Burger Rewards does exactly this! It is a well-crafted program that prioritises  the customer's habits. We aim to introduce new products first to our most loyal customers and have one million sign ups by August 2024. 

The loyalty program will help us develop a single source of truth called 'a persistent identity' for each customer. This ‘persistent identity’ is  based on a "sticky" detail — such as a consumer's email address and a phone number — offered voluntarily at the point of purchase.  Naturally, the redemption is higher, whenever the loyalty program recognises a special occasion in the consumer’s life. The 3rd aspect is that we respect our competition. Everyone is doing their best to  intercept customers—free coffee, coupons, trials-we are constantly inspired by them and hopefully, doing our bit to expand the  burger segment and make the marketplace better for all players. They have spurred us to work methodically to differentiate our offerings and today we serve one of the widest range of delicious vegetarian burgers in the industry.   

2. How do you see the QSR landscape in India shifting? Across the spectrum of retailers, aggregators, delivery companies?

We are at a major inflection point in the history of QSRs. Jumboking has 150 stores across India- Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad are very successful markets for us and we are growing them constantly. The target is to double every two years and I know that this is just the beginning. Every player, who manages to extract a share of the customer’s wallet, has worked on adding value and hence is an enabler in the ecosystem. We have to respect each other and help each other grow; aggregators have expanded the market, delivery companies offer convenience to the customer and help the brand grow tentacles, in a manner of speaking. The shift I see is co-existence and prosperity for  all the communities.   

3. What constructive role can investors play in the development of Indian QSR brands? 

Investors are important to provide capital,  so that founders can make their visions come true. To my mind, the imperative is that investors and founders need to have a common understanding of success. I have many friends, who run successful funds and together, we have come to a few realizations

a.  Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake. 

b.  Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning for everyone involved. The days of the  herd mentality—valuations, that somehow became linked to PE and a bottomless pit of fundraising - may be behind us. COVID has been a leveler in that sense.

c.  A founder is fuelled by the need to maintain intimacy and offer value to his customers, no matter how large the company becomes. Hence, investors need to allow the founder to function, patience is key. 

Explosive ups and cataclysmic crashes must not be the narratives that we teach our young.   

4. What are a few lessons newer QSRs can learn from the Jumboking story?

Everything we have done is about metabolisability. It's just another word for ‘clarity’ and  a key principle followed at Google. Metabolisability has been our key to become a franchising, nurturing powerhouse with a focus on innovation. Every process, every function in the company has SOPs and is simplified and documented.

Metabolisability has been the key to setting up  the best training department  in the QSR business in the country. We call this the JK University and this is entirely digital. In doing so, we have created a ‘culture of nurture’ within the organization.

Metabolisability permeates our communication program. Whether it is to our internal team members, our franchisees or customers- we engineer metabolisability into all our communication. This is the secret of successful nurturing because without absolute clarity, people cannot fulfil the goals set out for them. And this is why our training works.   

There is also metabolisability in our logo; the JK-bite which we launched in 2019.  This was around the time when we moved our partnership from Pepsi to Coke, seeing an alignment with Coca-Cola’s sharp positioning, fun vibe, and 'happiness' platform. 

There is also metabolisability in our innovation. Our products give the customers a sense of what to expect- a fantastic confluence of global tastes melting into the Indian palate and creating a wow factor for our product offering. 

Our key guiding posts have been as follows-

1.  To remain focused

2.  Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate

3.  Patient growth is better than hasty growth 

On your journey of nurture; remember that the initial stage will always be the hardest. But you have to believe that when you nurture something, the resilience of the structure you build will be very high. That's how we bounced back so quickly after the pandemic; the entire community was ready to tide over the bad times and knew that good times would come soon.   

5. Where do you see Jumboking five years from now? 

My goal, over the next decade, is to nurture the next community of entrepreneurs and believers.  That's why I wrote a book titled '10X your business'. Two chapters in the book- one is about GOODWILL and one is about THE NETWORK EFFECT, are particularly useful to understand the concept of nurture. In terms of reach, we will be present in the top 10 cities in the country 

6. You're something of a personal role model to your team. Was this a conscious decision? 

I have been blessed with very good role models in my own life. A lot of this has to do with the biographies I have read as well- your mentors come alive through books.  I have emulated their success mantras. I am surprised and amazed at how repetitive these success mantras are when it comes to delivering success. I endeavour to share my learnings, constantly with my team. 

The idea is to inspire one and all to become 10X versions of themselves. My belief is that we are all blessed with great talent, we only need someone to ignite it.  

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