With his venture Yellow Chips Nishanth Kripakar intends to create a new segment of organised kiosks and exclusive store formats in the unorganized chips market. Backed by his retail experience, his passion for entrepreneurship and support of his friend Vimal Yellow chips is the first startup in the retail chips industry. Backed by a funding of 1 crore Yellow Chips is in the phase to expand to other states and abroad.
Give a brief info about your start-up?
Hailing from the vibrant city of Kochi, Yellow chips is the first start-up in the retail chips industry as well as the first modern retail chips chain in India. Having opened our first exclusive store back in August 2017, Yellow chips sells different varieties of delicious and flavoured chips like banana chips, pazham (ripe) chips, beetroot chips, chembu chips, sweet potato chips, sarkkaarvarattiyathu, kappa chips, etc. We use pure chakkilattiyavelichenna to make all our products.
What made you start this venture?
Yellow Chips is neither a bakery nor a restaurant, hence we are creating a new segment in which all products are available through exclusive stores, kiosks, and food delivery apps. Apart from the truly unique Kerala chips varieties, we also make delicious halwa’s, spicy mixtures, roasted nuts, and other local delicacies. Each item is made in tune with traditional recipes dating back to years. Keeping the traditional theme going, Yellow Chips has embraced the ‘KalpathyAgraharam’ style of cooking which keeps everything pure, hygienic and 100% vegetarian.
We stand out from the regular shops as we never reuse the coconut oil or palm oil to fry the chips. Once a batch of chips is fried, we replace the oil. These are small details to keep to get the best taste, quality and hygiene. In fact, our main motto is to solve this problem of taste and hygiene for customers. Also, we wanted to start the first chips retail chain which serves different varieties of chips.
Where is your start-up based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Yellow Chips opened its first exclusive store in Elamakkara, Cochin about two years back. Most recent one is an exclusive kiosk set up in GF, Phase 1, Carnival Infopark.
The brand has plans to add eight more stores and kiosks in Cochin by 2021. We selected Kerala because it’s the birthplace of banana chips. Whoever visits Kerala, will buy a packet of banana chips on their way back home.
The expansion is not entirely limited to Kerala, Yellow Chips has recently branched out into Gujrat looking to target Keralites living in cities like Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Jam Nagar. Currently operating through a distribution network, Yellow chips plans to add an exclusive store in Surat by the end of 2019. The brand is also planning its expansion into neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan with an emphasis on cities like Indore, Bhopal, and Jaipur. We plan to launch in Bangalore by mid-august through our distribution network.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this start-up
The concept was scripted by me (MBA from University of Calicut and PGDRM from Bangalore University) and my friend Vimal Thomson (BTECH, MBA from the University of Kerala). We worked with India’s top brands like Woodland, McDonald’s, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd, Sahara, and Jockey India. We both have over ten years of experience in India’s retail sector. We were keeping a close eye on the Chips Industry for the past five years and traveled throughout Kerala to know more about the product before setting out into the market.
As a start-up founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Our studies estimate that the Kerala chips market will reach INR 2500-3000 crores by 2023 and we need to have about 10 lakhs tones banana by that time. This market remains untapped with very few players. Yellow Chips targets this unorganized sector and are the first modern player in the chips market.
We target 5 tonnes per month of sales within two years and our dream is to add 100 exclusive stores and 25 kiosks across India by 2025 with a turnover of 100 crores.
As per our study, Kerala chips, especially banana, kappa (tapioca), and jackfruit have an estimated market size of INR 1100-1200 crore. A major share is with banana and related chips. Almost 3 lakh tons of raw banana is cultivated in Kerala annually, out of which 50-60% of production is directed towards banana chips. The final yield will be one-third of that, which is nearly 45,000 tonnes. While local consumption is increasing, there is also a steady flow of chips to other states as well as markets abroad.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
We don’t have any competition in the organized sector. Currently we are competing with the local chips shops. These shops started years back and they are well known among local customers. We have already made strategies to attract customers, using our brand name – Yellow Chips.
Quality is never compromised at any stage, and we believe this is quintessential for developing a strong customer base. This quality emphasis was recognized very early by our customer base, and Yellow Chips currently has 70%, repeat customers.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a start-up founder and how do you manage it?
We are passionate about our concept and project. I have also associated myself with an IT company based out of Cochin. The company develops mobile applications mainly catered towards people of old age. Our team is nearing the final stage of development and are planning to launch it soon. We hope to expand this project globally in the future. It is completely B2C and more details will be shared once we have a fully functional product
Once everything is settled, I want to head for further studies abroad. I plan to take up an MBA in global business, from Singapore. I have already completed an MBA (in marketing) from the University of Calicut and a postgraduate diploma in Retail Management from Bangalore University.
I believe that global business has wide depth. In the future, every business will have to look globally. The brand which thinks locally won’t have any future. We need to think and act globally. And I hope the masters in global business will give me an in-depth knowledge of the global market.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you’re looking to raise?
We have raised around ₹1 crore Angel investment from Alleppey based Madeena Group. This investment will be introduced into Yellow Chips within two years and will be used for its continued expansion and growth.
Madeena is an ideal partner for the next phase of our journey, and we look forward to working together in the years ahead to bring our strengths and learning in retail and food retail to the fore. Madeena group is running many supermarkets in the main hubs of Alleppey and has created a good name for itself among the customers.
We are currently in talks with another investor group based out of Qatar. They may also invest in our firm in the future. However, our main aim is to attract half a billion investments. We want to build a high tech plant which can help us increase our production. Currently, we have signed up with a plant, based in Kakkanad Cochin mainly to produce traditional food items like Halwa’s, mixtures and others. The plant has a daily production capacity of 1000 KG’s including all product varieties. Plans are also in place to set up an independent production unit once sales gather pace.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
It’s a tough question for me. I don’t know about it. People might start thinking about me, a professional having a high paying job leaving everything to start a business like this. Especially since it is not a fancy business and you will not see any educated or qualified people being a part of such a business. Many people see it as an anomaly.
But we know that it’s a growing business. The size of this industry is about INR 1200 Cr and it is the first time in history, that an estimate was made on the (Kerala chips) industry.
My parents were not aware of my business until an article got published in a leading media outlet. When you succeed, everyone appreciates, so it’s better to keep a safe distance from everyone and focus on your karma. I believe in Bhagavat Gita and it says that- you are born for a purpose. Also, I watch Jack Ma’s speeches which gives me more confidence. Jack ma inspired me a lot and he is my role model in business.
What gets you excited about this company?
Yellow chips will soon be a part of Zeriti Retail Pvt Ltd. Zeriti is a new company to which the angel investment will be introduced. Our main is to achieve our target of 100 stores and 100 crores by 2025. We are also looking at international markets especially Malaysia, Sri-Lanka, Qatar, UAE, and Nigeria for future business expansion. Yellow chips will be opening exclusive stores in these countries in future through master franchisee mode. After the successful expansion of Yellow Chips, Zeriti is planning to launch two more product lines in the future which will also be in the food industry. Yellow Chips will also see changes as various sub-brands will be added as per the category of cities to which it is introduced.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My life entirely changed after I started Yellow Chips. Most of my time was taken up by report preparation, presentations, and related activities. Now my work starts in the market, then to our shops and afterward to the plant.
I meet various types of customers and clients daily. I am looking to open many shops in the least amount of time.
Now I am happy. I feel that I am working for myself and that life will change if I can make Yellow Chips a big brand. I am trying my best for the same.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Myself and Vimal Thomson worked together with Aditya Birla Retail Ltd. Then he moved to another company but we maintained our relationship. We both want to be entrepreneurs in the future. Once I pointed out the chips industry in one of our conversation and he was very much interested in it. He told me to go ahead with this project and assured his complete support for all. As per our plan, we started a model store initially.
After a few days, we realized this could be easily scaled up if we put more focus and time. Then we developed our brand name and after a year, we renovated our store to a modern format. Eventually, everything was implemented and the business has expanded well.
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