Hyderabad: Hitting it big with PopiCorn

Co-Founder & COO P Naga Vara Prasad and CEO Prashanth Gowriraju

Hyderabad: Once an entrepreneur, it is likely that the person will always remain an entrepreneur. Prashant Gowriraju, founder and chief executive officer of Timla Foods, refused to give up even after his two previous ventures did not meet expectations. That was between 2008 and 2015.

Gowriraju then decided to try his hands at another venture. In 2015, he incorporated Timla Foods, which makes popcorn and since then there has been no looking back.

Timla is making its presence felt in multiple cities – Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Chennai, Pune. It added Delhi recently and will soon be available in Bengaluru.
It has its manufacturing facility near Hyderabad and has appointed multiple distributors to take the products to retail channels. It also supplies directly to the modern retail – like DMart, Reliance Fresh, More.

“We are hoping to do a turnover of Rs 50 crore by March, 2018,” says Gowriraju. PopiCorn, made from whole-grain and popped popcorn, is available at Rs 10, 20 and 49.

“We have positioned it as a healthy snack option. PopiCorn packs in 30 calories per cup, is gluten-free and contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. It also does not have any trans-fat,” Gowriraju says.

The demand for the product is rising, he says. The company also wants to explore newer sales channels like movie halls.

The venture, which started with two people, now has 75 people, including some seasoned hands from FMCG companies. In December 2016, Timla Foods raised an undisclosed amount of seed fund from Mumbai-based early-stage investment fund Kae Capital. Before investing in this food and beverage segment, it mainly invested in consumer centric and technology-oriented businesses.

Before starting Timla Foods, Gowriraju has floated two another ventures. He founded Hooray Retail in 2008. This was an online grocery store. “Over time, the margins were getting thin and we found it difficult to continue,” says Gowriraju, who pulled the curtains down on the first venture after two years of existence.

Then in 2010, came up his second venture- Kidloo, to sell toys. This was a direct consequence of a failed search he did to buy right toys at the right price for his kids.

Kidloo then had offline experience stores and online channel for sales. “Parents prefer to have a touch and feel experience of toys before they buy them for their kids. Most of them preferred only those with some lights, sound and movement or action. Also, we are in a price sensitive market,” recalls Gowriraju.

Kidloo grew into a brand for toys and had about 45,000 SKUs. “We decided to end our play after five years in this segment around 2015 due to market conditions,” he says.
While his family members suggested he give up entrepreneurship and take up a job, Gowriraju convinced them to allow him to be an enterpreneur for one last time.

“With seven years of entrepreneurial experience and academic qualifications to back that up, it would not have been difficult to find a job for myself. But I wanted to start one more venture. I gave myself two more years and then came Timla,” recollects the serial entrepreneur.
Why the name Timla? “This is my last adventure,” he elaborates.

“There is a promise to keep. There is a fear of losing something that we love- entrepreneurship. This keeps us motivated to put in our best efforts, particularly on the product and consumer satisfaction side. This is giving us the desired results,” tells Gowriraju.

Currently, PopiCorn is available in about 20,000 outlets. The company is hopeful of making it available in about 1.5 lakh outlets by March.

“Focus on product or service is key to success of an enterprise. Persistence is needed. There will be some low points but these should not be seen as failures,” shares Gowriraju.