This Goan has created a new category in the country with the launch of pudding under the Coffee doodle brand. He spoke to AJIT JOHN about his plans for the business
The need to be the first in something or to perhaps to develop something entirely new requires vision, hard work and yes, a generous helping of luck. Viraj Hede had the gumption, the vision and the drive to get it done. The man behind Toffee doodle worked on the project years before setting it up, improving his skills and gaining knowledge to make his mark.
Coffee doodle came into existence on April 10, 2017 when the first sale of a cup containing pudding was sold in a super market in Goa. But for that day to become a reality one has to go back five years. Some people are passionate about sport, music or even physics. Viraj Hede was passionate about desserts and puddings. As a child he spent most of his time with milk and custard and at 12 his empathetic father suggested he work in the food industry because it would mean he would do what he loved. This could, he felt, eventually lead a food café.
He graduated from IHM in Hyderabad with a degree in hotel management. This gave him a grounding in food production but he was devoid of knowledge in the marketing aspect of the business. This three-year course helped him learn about food. Not interested in maths he spent most of the time making desserts. He gained experience in four different five-star properties and gained valuable training in puddings desserts and confectionary. He felt confident about starting a dessert café. A conversation with his sister however brought a new perspective. He realised he did not know the business side of the entire operation.
Viraj said “I decided to enrol myself in an MBA programme and learn how to run an operation.” He learnt all about finance, brand development, production management and all the aspects of a business. This time in the course also helped to change his aspirations. He decided to upgrade from a dessert café to a FMCG business model. His ideology for the business had by then evolved. When he was contemplating setting up a dessert café he was thinking of creating 50 to 100 desserts in one room. He would then expect approximately 100 people to like a particular taste and this would grow. But in a FMCG model he would focus on one product and distribute it to 100 different clients who would have their own clients and this would expand the popularity of this taste.
He proceeded to travel around the country visiting stores and checking the section where all the desserts were exhibited. It was obvious in the retail industry the gourmet pudding as a category was absent. No brand was providing milk pudding in a consistent way. During his time studying the MBA course, he had around 60 different recipes for desserts. Since he loved making custard he decided to make it a toffee thus leading to the name of the company. He decided to focus on six different kinds of pudding from different parts of the world.
He launched with Seera Dura a Goan Portuguese pudding and plans are now afoot to launch a Brazilian chocolate pudding in November. After that it will be England, Peru, France and then a typical Indian pudding all with a toffee twist.
The Seera Dura is available in select restaurants in Goa. The reaction from the market has been good. When he started it was in 5 retails stores, then 15 in a months and then 30. He then started in restaurants and now it is available in 120 plus restaurants and shops and super markets. Every month the business is growing at 20% and the challenge is to keep the product fresh. Since the company does not use preservatives the product stays fresh for only seven days. The company follows a unique distribution model.
Viraj says, “We follow a just in time delivery. We provide delivery every third day as the shelf life is low. With restaurants it is either the next day or it is provided the very same day.”
He intends to create a pudding category in a store meaning a new category in India. A holistic upgrade of the brand is due shortly and they are moving to a new factory. They eventually intend to spread all over the country.