Shrey Aggarwal (Founder, The Belgian Waffle Co.), was a mechanical engineering student and started his career as a software engineer. He went on to work in Manila for SAP. However, he is a complete foodie and has always been an in-house food critic, but had absolutely no experience in hospitality or the food biz and never imagined to make a career in this field.
So we were curious to know how Belgian waffle came about. Shrey says, “Honestly it was not a very calculated and analyzed decision. I had a somewhat Eureka moment when I was walking into a mall in the Philippines and I could smell freshly baked waffles from a nearby store. I couldn’t resist and had to buy one even though I wasn’t particularly hungry. I wanted to re-create that feeling and create a warm and inviting brand that served a freshly baked product that represented the same feeling of comfort and nostalgia that I felt. I shadowed the owner of that waffle brand and I saw tremendous potential to bring the product to India in a big way, customized in an easy to eat and affordable format. Waffles are a versatile favorite for all ages and can be eaten at all times of the day be it breakfast, dessert or a snack so it made sense.” Have we made you hungry, now?
Being in the market for less than 3 years they started off with a small outlet in INOX cinema in 2015. Today, they’ve expanded to 100 outlets across to the country. They’ve started working on a franchise model to not only make it scalable but also encourage young entrepreneurs to buy into their vision and spread the warmth.
Having said all of this, waffles as a concept already existed in India way before they came in. But yet, in the last 3 years, they’ve gotten so much recognition. And when we asked, he said, “Firstly, we’ve spent a lot of time getting our product and proprietary eggless batter right, which was really appreciated in terms of quality and consistency. Secondly, we’ve always chosen the right locations; and that is key. Lastly, we’ve created a warm, fun and approachable brand identity that resonated with all ages from 8 to 80.”
Currently, they’re selling 20,000 waffles, each day and their vision for 2018 is to add 15 outlets, per month. (No, that wasn’t a typo, we really meant per month. Crazy, right?). In the long run, they’re open to innovations to stay relevant but will never stray too far from their brand identity. Having said this, they do have some exciting launches planned out for 2018.
His biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has to be – finding manpower. Finding and recruiting loyal and committed employees who truly buy into their vision and can maintain the level of hospitality, service, and quality that they associate with their brand is always their biggest challenge. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re already agreeing to him in your head.
If there was one tip he could give to anyone starting out in this industry is, “Keep it simple. Make the entire operation as process oriented and simple as possible and drive SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) down to the lowest level. Make sure the model is designed to be uncomplicated and easy to replicate right from its conception and make all decisions on purchasing, recipes, ingredients and partnerships by considering the implications on scale.”
The Belgian Waffle Co. stands for comfort, warmth, and joy. Shrey believes that when life gets you down, take the bitter with the batter!
We know we’ve made you hungry, so indulge!