In Conversation With Bhooklagi – An IIMK Student-Run Profitable Start-Up
A very important metric to judge a B-School is how much it encourages entrepreneurship. Not only does IIM Kozhikode boast of an Entrepreneurship cell, it also has its own start-up, which is managed by a new team of students year after year. The specialty – Even in such times of hyper-competitiveness, it is a profitable venture. Read on to find what makes Bhooklagi special. It achieves 2 very important things – fulfills the needs of the students and gives us a real-life glimpse of how the market functions.
1. Please tell us something about Bhooklagi. What is its main purpose?
Bhooklagi is an intra IIM Kozhikode start-up with a social and economic objective. It is unique in it its own ways. We started 7 years ago when a group of IIMK students saw an opportunity in lack of eateries around campus as well as unavailability of food options. Sensing this need for a student to have some change in taste from the usual mess food, they started a food delivery platform. Our existence rests on this very need of the students: accessibility to food options. Coming to the economic objective, we require talented students to work as part of a team and it’s only natural that we become a profitable business to attract talent. We need good marketers, strategists, people with an understanding of the market and people who are keen to dip their feet in some field work. We are a bunch of people with one common objective: to experience a business.
2. How exactly does Bhooklagi function?
Our operating day starts with one of the members ensuring the menu items by calling up restaurants listed on our menu. Yes, we have a menu and we take orders through a form. We then open the form for students who place their orders till a deadline. The real action begins after the deadline. We place orders over a call to these restaurants and leave for those places to get the food. The most crucial aspect is not disappointing our customer i.e. getting the right order and getting it on time. We have a window of 2 hours to go to the restaurant, check the orders correctly before collecting them, make payments and come back to campus. These restaurants are approximately 10 kms. away so everything has to happen at the exact time for us to deliver food when we promise. Mind you that the people working on the field are students and are working on strict timelines because of course work pressure. We manage the delays by adhering to a strict process and ensuring everyone follows the same. We usually deliver food on time and the reward is our pleased and satisfied customers. At the end of the day, that is what matters the most.
3. Who are the partner restaurants of Bhooklagi?
We do not enter into formal agreements with any restaurants and it’s more on a trust basis that we operate with them. Our menu showcases items from McDonalds, KFC, Charminar (A wonderful eatery for biryani lovers) and Dominoes; basically, the usual fast food restaurants. Once in a while, we bring in some change to the menu by having Frootree, Goli vada pav etc on the menu.
4. How do you select the next set of owners in the start-up? Do the original members still hold equity?
The partners at Bhooklagi are selected on a very competitive basis. We want to put people who take this business seriously and take it ahead to greater heights. A competition takes place where various teams participate and run a Bhooklagi operation for a day. These teams are not given any kind of support and are supposed to come up with their own idea of how Bhooklagi should operate and execute the same. They are judged on various parameters like how well they marketed their team, ensured profits and executed the final delivery of food i.e. were they on time and delivered the correct orders etc. The most important aspect that is gauged is the hunger the teams have towards running a business such as ours. This is important because things do turn mundane after some time and it is up to the partners to bring in something interesting and keep the show going.
5. How difficult is it manage studies along with a start-up?
At times it becomes hectic. We are in a premier institute and have many aspirations which sometimes collide with our duties to Bhooklagi. In times where a particular person is unavailable, someone from the team takes care of it. We shift responsibilities if someone is unavailable and manage the operation. A big team of the 10 makes this possible. At end of the day, we are managers and we manage it.
6. Any tips for budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own venture?
The point of utmost importance is to have the fire within to keep things going when going gets tough. You can find an opportunity, a need; but what use is it if you do not pursue it till all ends are exhausted. The second point is making it viable and the key to that is understanding your customer and empathising with them. The final point is keeping your eyes and ears open to feedback and competition.