From Churros on the Streets to Success: The Inspiring Story of founder’s Neehar Bisabathini and Sneh Poddar Churrolto’s Rise to a Multibranch Brand in Hyderabad
Indulge in the Perfect Blend of Churros, Pastries, and Bistro Delights at Churrolto!
It all started with a simple idea and a deep passion for food and technology. Neehar Bisabathini, the founder of Churrolto, had a dream of turning churros into world-class brands that could rival Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. But with limited resources and a lot of naysayers, he had to start from the ground up, selling his delicious churros on the streets of Hyderabad. Little did he know that this humble beginning would be the start of a remarkable success story that would change the dessert game in India forever.
Can you tell us about the story of Churrolto, from its humble beginnings selling churros on the streets to becoming a successful brand with multiple branches in Hyderabad?
I’ve always had two passions growing up, one is food and one is technology. Getting them both together is my daily job. Why Churrolto? When I first tasted these things called churros, I truly thought they could be made as big as Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts. Now, you have a world-class dream but you don’t have the money, so you need to start somewhere to prove your concept to the naysayers. Ok Neehar, let’s start selling them on the street. That’s a good start, isn’t it? Then after six months of gaining confidence in the concept, we started off with a very small store of just five tables, and guess what? It blew up.
The only issue we had for the next two years was we didn’t have enough seats. I was so frustrated that people had to stand all the time and wait all the time, so I made our mission statement say that Churrolto is there to serve everyone with something savoury, sweet, and a seat. We instantly started searching for a bigger store, ten times bigger than our previous one. Guess what? People piled up again and started waiting once more. Now we told ourselves, that’s it, we have to expand now.
We asked ourselves, how do we expand? How did McDonald’s and Starbucks expand? They all had one thing in common, a centralized kitchen. So we took one of the biggest central kitchens in India, keeping in mind the vision, and we never looked back.
Founder - Neehar Bisabathini
What's your background in education and business before stepping into your passion, Mr Neehar? Were any co-founders or partners involved when you first started?
I don’t give any credit to my education. My education is self-taught in this industry, learning from others and this one constant practice called “Trial and error”. My co-founder and partner Sneh Poddar have been with me and supporting me since day 1.
How did Churrolto differentiate itself from other dessert and snack brands in the market? What's the best-selling and talk-of-the-town item serving from your kitchens?
Yes, we have a hero product, these things called churros. Rarely a restaurant or a store has a hero product. We as a brand believe in this value particularly Value No. 3: when we serve you our food, your health lies in our hands.
So we make a lot of products avoiding horrible addictive sugars, Gluten, and cheap chocolates.
And we love exclusivity, Value no. 2 says: What you find here at Churrolto shouldn’t be found anywhere in the world. So we want and prepare products that are available only at Churrolto.
Can you describe the process of developing new flavours or products and both for Churrolto?
We love celebrating people at Churrolto, we have 200 people, and we have this competition every quarter called Chef’s pride. We called upon 5 chefs and tell them to do whatever they like. Then it goes through a refining process just like MasterChef.
How did Churrolto adapt and evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what changes did you make to continue serving customers?
During: Got in technology ASAP to reduce contact, whether contactless ordering or subscription services for people at home. Sometimes even as far as tracking the location of employees if they entered red zones.
Now: Churrolto’s program of walk into the kitchen anytime you want, Self-order kiosk to reduce touchpoints, table ordering tech, An automated store where switches on and off at the same time with tracking, Smart rapid heating ovens with presets that are connected to the central kitchen, using notion as communication so the entire team is aligned in the right way.
What are the biggest challenges that Churrolto has faced as a start-up, and how have you overcome them?
The rate of failure in this industry is higher than in others. Every day a new restaurant opens, and 10 others close. And Understanding the customer’s mood swings is a skill altogether.
1st Challenge: Aligning everyone, even the housekeeper sweeping floors, to the vision of the company
2nd Challenge: Hyper motivating and inspiring your head’s team and lower team every single day
3rd Challenge: Consistency everywhere every time. Not only in the assembly of food but also in the experience of the client
4th Challenge: The logistics, Data, and an incredible amount of wastage control that happens every day.
5th Bonus: to endure growing pains every day as the company grows.
Co Founder - Sneh Poddar
What's the Chef's Pride concept? It's a great idea to introduce Chef and team, the main pillars behind the tasteful food items.
We at Churrolto love celebrating people, everyone comes with a hidden skill, a dream, and a hunger to this industry to prove themselves.
Chef’s pride does just that. Makes the chefs present their dishes to a panel of expert chefs, and may the best culinary delight win. It’s as simple as MasterChef for Churrolto.
How important are customer feedback and engagement to Churrolto, and what steps do you take to ensure that your customers are satisfied?
Transparency is the currency in 2023. Everyone shows off their rosy side of the business. But who accepts their flaws, promises to work on them, and actually is authentic? We love negative feedback at Churrolto, as we see them as one step closer to our vision.
“A problem should never go the second day at Churrolto”.
It should die right then and there. A customer goes through a feedback referral checklist of 1 day, 7 days, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months follow-up. 6 months for the very complicated issues “For example accidentally feeding non-veg to a veg customer” Trust me it happens.
Do you think food bloggers/influencers can bring more customers to the business than organic word of mouth?
Word of mouth wins every single time, period. Food bloggers bring attention and eyeballs for a short period of time, and they do their job quite well on that. But the next step is to work on repeat customers. Your experience should be so flawless that people cannot replace you.
Why do the majority of cafes/restaurant brands start in Hyderabad firstly in Jubilee Hills, Film Nagar, Hitec City, or Financial District and later open up in other parts, is it purely the business strategy to attract customers from the centre of the city at first ?
We believe at Churrolto that We don’t Choose a location, we create a market We were the first one in Madhapur and created a market and left.
We were the first ones in Filmnagar in that street to come. We love creating a market. But we are also very calculated in choosing a location. Many metrics example, the density of the population, age group, schools, malls, etc.
The simple answer to your question is purely based on population density and spending capacity.
How important is it for a cafe/restaurant brand to have its founders as the face of the brand? We heard that you'll respond if any customer wants to give feedback/complaint directly.
Founders are increasingly becoming more popular than the brand itself. Elon Musk is a great example. When the founder is upfront on the front lines working alongside the staff, it increases great trust and morale amongst the staff and clients.
Yes, I solve customer complaints on a daily basis. Our Value No.1 says to treat the customer the same way as if your mother was sitting at the table.
We have collections of feedback under many channels, even recording the non-glamorous parts of the bathroom experience.
Can you discuss Churrolto's expansion plans, both in terms of new products and new locations?
Expanding a brand is more about Operations, Culture, and logistics than just growing in numbers. That’s a whole different book altogether. The question we ask ourselves every day is “How to expand without losing the soul”.
Churrolto is now available in Hyderabad with branches at
Filmnagar | Hitech City | Banjara Hills with more branches opening soon! Available for orders on major Food Delivery applications.
You can find them on Socials at instagram -churrolto and on the website churrolto.com
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are looking to start a successful food or beverage brand?
Start off from the bottom or else you won’t have a chance.
How to reach out to Neehar and Sneh Poddar?
The founders are available on major social media platforms, but if you have something to share with them, an easier way is through their LinkedIn Platforms – Neehar Bisabathini and Sneh Poddar