Wow! Momo started with ₹30,000 and became ₹100 crore food company

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India’s largest and fastest growing momo chain, Wow! Momo started with a meagre investment of ₹30,000 and now stands at a stupendous net worth of ₹100 crore. It was founded in 2008 in Kolkata, India, by Sagar Daryani and Binod Homagai, alumni of St. Xavier’s College.

Serving delicious momos to happy customers is the brand’s agenda. Pan fried momos became their USP soon after they decided to pivot from the classic steamed momos to those fried in different sauces to make the offering spicy or sweet or sour, essentially flavours that suit the Indian palette.

They offer 16 different varieties of momos, some of them being chicken, chicken and cheese, schezwan and prawn. For vegetarians, the offerings include corn and corn and cheese, among others. They offer chocolate momos as well!

“We managed to Indianise momos. The pan-fried momos became a huge USP for us. The idea is that people take a bite, and say wow! Hence the name Wow! Momo,” says Sagar.

Wow! Momo not only lets a customer dine in at their outlets but also delivers food to their doorstep. However, things weren’t always bright and shiny for the startup. They, like many others, have had their share of ups and downs but have emerged stronger to stand where they are standing today.

Sagar is an enthusiast who is highly passionate about Brand Building. He idolizes Sachin Tendulkar and intends to emulate the same diligence in his profession as practised by the little master. Sagar dreams of an India where employment is at its 100%. He has mentored start-up’s in the F&B space and a few of them are already in operationally profitable mode.

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Very recently Wow! Momo won the ‘Best SME of the Year Award & and also the Best Food & Agri Products’ in the ET Now Leaders of Tomorrow Regional awards 2013.

Wow! Momo also bagged the Best Food Service Brand – East India in the Images East India Retail Summit Awards in 2014.

In February 2014, Mr Daryani was conferred with the ‘50 Most Talented Retail Professionals of India Award.’

A passionate speaker with active Oratory skills, Sagar has given business & motivational talks at various Business Schools & Entrepreneurship Cells across the country.

Sagar dreams of a happier India, where employment is at its 100 % & health care is not a worry for any countryman. He has a wow plan ahead giving his dreams its due direction.

An experienced Chief Operations Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the food & beverages industry. Binod is skilled in Management, Customer Service, Sales, Strategic Planning, and Business Development. He is a strong business development professional with a Bachelor’s degree focused in Business Administration and Management. He graduated from St. Xavier’s College Kolkata.

Sagar and Binod, the two college buddies, studying in the B.Com course at St Xavier’s College in Kolkata, were ordinary middle-class boys. Binod had done his schooling from St. Xavier’s Collegiate School and Sagar from St James School, both in Kolkata.

Sagar shuddered at the thought of giving a CAT exam for further education because he wasn’t particularly good at Mathematics. Moreover, Binod and he wanted to try their hand at business instead of settling for a vocational career.

“In the final year of our college, we began to plan our careers like other young people our age, but with no concrete goals, just vague ideas,” says Binod, now 31 and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company.

In addition to being in the same class, the duo shared a strong penchant for momos. Binod hailed from Nepal where the dish is believed to have originated and hence took a strong liking to it. Sagar, on the other hand, owed his inclination towards momos to a momo-seller outside his school.

“We thought of a bakery shop in Mumbai, but decided instead to venture into momos as I knew how to make them.” When Binod shared the idea with Sagar, he jumped at it. Here, after all, was an opportunity to turn their favourite dish into a business model.

However, before they could implement their ideas into a concrete business model, they were both offered lucrative jobs, based abroad, as part of their campus placements. Hazardous as it sounds, they both turned the offers down to start a venture of their own.

“We turned it down,” says Binod, “we wanted to try our luck in business.”

The initial struggles were lack of funding and awareness. Binod’s father was an employee in a private company and did not have the capital to invest in their venture. Sagar, however, roped his father in and beseeched him to lend them ₹30,000 to kickstart their business.

“I persuaded my father to lend the money for our start-up,” says Sagar, now 30 and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.

He also convinced his family to let them use the ground floor of a relative’s three-storey house in Jadavpur as the kitchen and thought of the name Wow! Momo.

The idea is that people take a bite, and say wow! Hence the name Wow! Momo,” says Sagar.

Sagar, while talking about their initial years of struggle, said,

“We didn’t have the money to print leaflets or hire a full-time chef. We had a part-time chef who would come in the morning and prepare momos for us. Binod and I would wear Wow! Momo t-shirts and go up to customers with a tray of momos for taste sampling. That’s how we marketed our brand. We always had a product-oriented marketing campaign.”

Their first kitchen was a 200 square foot room with only a single table and two chefs who worked on a nominal salary. They took the raw material on credit from a local grocery store to get things started.

Things gained momentum when Binod and Sagar managed to get a small kiosk at Spencer’s Retail in Gachtala Tollygunge in south Kolkata on rent for a month at 18 per cent revenue share. The borrowed sum of Rs 30,000 was used to do-up the kiosk and buy some utensils for cooking. The kiosk opened on 29 August 2008.

We travelled everywhere by auto,” says Binod, describing the days of struggle. “We stood at the entrance of the market, distributed leaflets to attract customers and offered free sampling of our momos. On the very first day, we had a sale of around Rs 2,200, and we touched Rs 53,000 at the end of a month.”

Over the next two years, they set up six similar kiosks in various malls and hypermarkets across the city.

In 2010, the duo came up with their first independent outlet at Sector V in Salt Lake, Kolkata, with an investment of Rs 14 lakh from what they had earned. The same kitchen where they began has now expanded to 1,200 sq ft and is now the centralized hub for the supply of the dumplings across the city. The first floor of the building in Jadavpur is now the headquarters of their company.

In 2011, they branched out of Kolkata and launched an outlet at Phoenix Market City in Bengaluru. They have not looked back ever since. Today, the company boasts of having a mind-boggling 130 outlets in the country out of which 34 are based in Kolkata. The other cities where Wow! Momo has been launched include Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi, Kochi et cetera. All the Wow! Momo outlets are owned by the company except the one in Kochi which is a franchise. The company has over 700 people employed in backend productions, and over 900 people managing the storefronts. The team follows a standardised recipe and cooking methodology.

Wow! Momo has raised a total of ₹470M in funding over 3 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Jun 13, 2018, from a Venture – Series Unknown round.

Lighthouse Funds invested $440 million in a Series B funding round on the 13th of May in 2017. Followed by that, William Bissel invested $30 million on 13th June 2018.

The fast-food chain, Wow! Momo is eyeing Rs 500 crore turnover in five years as it sets to expand aggressively across the country.

“We are treating Rs 500 crore turnover target in 5 years with a network of 500 outlets that we plan to open by then. Our mission in the long-term is to be India’s version of a McDonald’s and become a global brand,” Wow! Momo Co-Founder Sagar Daryani told .

According to Economic Times, Wow! Momo is also in the process of raising fresh funds to the tune Rs 50 crore, which will fuel its expansion drive.

“We will close fund raising by middle of this year and we plan to use this entire sum to expand our business,” Daryani said.

The company plans to expand rapidly in Kolkata, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru during this year with a small expansion planned in Chennai as well. It is also looking at entering new markets such as Hyderabad and Mumbai in the next fiscal year.

All things that eventually become great start small. However, to get there requires a lot of conviction, dedication, perseverance and willpower.

Sagar says, “Experimenting with time and taking risks is a must. “The biggest risk in today’s business is not taking risks. One has to continue experimenting with time and taking calculated risks for a better future. Every new city we have entered has been a risk, every new store we open is a risk we take, we have to continue to evolve else it’s very difficult to sustain in the race.”

The journey of Wow! Momo is an inspiration indeed. To chase your dreams and believe in them is the greatest favour you can do to yourself.

Who would have known a startup with only an initial investment of ₹30,000 would become a billion dollar company?

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Vasundhara Dhadiwal
I'm quite gauche, tbh. I despise texting abbreviations and Internet acronyms and the fact that I find myself guilty of using them every once in a while. I study mass communication and photography gets me by. I am as old school as they come. I devour books while a plate full of food is waiting to be eaten. Life is quite okay but I struggle with the in-betweens. I'm just a regular girl but I believe that I'm going to be a very big deal someday.

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