“Hot” Potato, who doesn’t want one? In Nepal potatoes are loved by many. Potatoes are crucial ingredient for different kind of food. There is one name who serve this item extremely well, Aalucha. Looking at the name some might say who is this guy?
However, It is not name of any person, instead its a unique fries food chain from Nepal. Nepal has an immense opportunity in the fries industry, but unique Nepalese innovation could not be seen. However, the gap is covered by 3 young and creative entrepreneurs that did things differently.
Story Behind Initiating
Aalucha is a fast-food store that sales different food made from potatoes in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. They have 11 food items currently made from potatoes which are unique in our country. Their name is also unique and show how a simple thing as potato can be presented in very creative way.
It all begin when two students of Hotel management Durgesh Hada and Ayushma Shrestha saw an opportunity of potato fries in Nepal. They had been abroad and they felt like instead of working in foreign land something could be done in Nepal using the ideas from abroad.
the founders came to Nepal and with collaboration with another partner Punkaj Shrestha started a first fast food store in Nepal which specialized in potatoes for fast food. They had the idea of selling a unique potato item tornado fries from South Korean restaurants.
Founders started a fast food store with 3 items on menu and with a unique name that was catchy to normal consumers “Aalucha”. The founder said, “I could not see restaurants that were selling fries in Nepal as sold in South Korea, so I thought of starting a restaurant that would focus on potatoes fries in a very different way than other restaurants.”
“Aalucha itself is a unique name and people remember the name and are curious about it, in addition to that the potato based fast food are also unique with many variations.” said the founder of Aalucha, Durgesh Hada. He further added, “In initiation phase, we were targeting the young people and as time passed on we learn that Aalu (potato) is loved by every kind of person in the world. Even the foreigners love potato. So, we welcome them warmly.”
The founder Ayushma shreshta said, “Aalucha is a flexible restaurant and we adapt as per customers need and tailor the food according to their need.”Aalucha is a new fast food outlet which has not been open even for 2 years. But in this short time they have got a robust amount of customers support and booming throughout the year.
The food chain use potatoes and make 11 items related to potatoes. There unique selling point is tornado fries which is very well recognized among the customers. They also sell different kinds of drinks and according to the founder Durgesh Hada, “In summer sales of drinks also contributes the restaurant.”
The founders of food chain believe that their outlet is becoming successful because they focus on customer need and are willing to interact with customer and treat them like friends and family rather than having transaction based relationship.
In addition to the benefit they provide the public with qualitative food they are also creating opportunities for the Moms of Bhaktapur and students that are need of money and job. Certain items required for the food in the menu is outsourced to the housewife mothers around the outlet and the employees are also the students who are involved in part time job. This way even the student get the opportunity to learn and earn.
The founder Durgesh Hada states, “The pricing is also an integral factor in determining success of a business. So, we focus on pricing any new food item properly.” The cost of food item produced by Aalucha varies from cheaper to expensive range. They offer food to all kind of consumers with different purchasing power.
Founder Durgesh Hada added, “Though there are some expensive food items we offer like Butter Chicken Poutine, the price compared to other restaurant, it is comparatively cheaper. The unique selling point of the outlet is the cheapest product (Tornado fries) in the menu which cost just Rs 45, yet it brings many customers. He even added “The customers know the name of their fast-food outlet mainly because of tornado fries, people are confused that tornado fries is Aalucha. While it is not.”
“First thing the potatoes are a seasonal product, it could not be harvested throughout the year in Nepal. So we have to import potatoes from foreign land like Bangladesh leading to a higher cost of production.” Said Durgesh Hada. Potatoes is a core raw material for running the business. However, availability of the potato is not always easy. Sometimes, there is a great scarcity of potato and sometimes storing a large supply is a difficult task. As a young entrepreneur the founders also have to face the challenge of raising the capital in initiating phase. After completion of their studies they were just a graduate student and lacked capital for a business and they could not get enough capital as required.
“It was definitely hard in starting days of Aalucha, we were even in a situation when we bought our own product as boney (A Nepali tradition related to sales).” said by Ayushma Shrestha. But as time passed the customers started recognizing the product and later became very impressed with the product which led to a robust growth of the outlet. Now the customers are so willing to eat that product that they come before the store is open and are calling before time of operation.
Aalucha is looking forward to serve more customers with the delicious product they have. They are thinking of opening another outlet in Lalitpur in near future. They are also getting many offers from other districts to be a partner and establish outlet.
However they think the quality will degrade if they start working with other partners across Nepal. They do have plan to establish many outlets across Nepal in future but on their own terms. They even say that if they become successful and if things go as they plan, Aalucha may be recognized beyond the boarder of Nepal.
As said by Ayushma Shrestha one of the founder, “The things are going well for now and we are getting a very good response from customers and hopefully someday we might serve people throughout the globe because it is not impossible.”
Message to Youths
“I would not say the youths to not go for abroad studies, but they should learn something from foreign land and apply it in Nepal as there is immense opportunity in the home land.”
Startups to support #Skills2grow4life
By: Romin Neupane