There is a thing about start-up beverage companies and animals - monkeys, rhinos, owls, peacocks, squirrel - all have a place of pride in the names, logos and mascots of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Now is the time for an animated lion, one that sports a jacket, a bow, and sunglasses.
Simba, a start-up craft beer brand, is roaring right now. It was launched in 2016 with two variants: A wheat (wit) beer and a stout. In 2016/2017, the firm clocked revenues of Rs 6 crore. Last year, its top line grew to Rs 76 crore. Founder and CEO Prabhtej Bhatia now expects to double revenues this fiscal year. Simba is now available in Delhi, Gurgaon, Goa, Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka. The premium segment of India's beer market is its fastest growing and the craft beer revolution is on the rise, fuelled mostly by microbreweries in cities. All this makes it a good time to launch bottled beer for the mass market.
We found the following during our conversation with the founder:
1. The wheat (wit) beer is priced at Rs 110 and the stout at Rs 150. Of this retail price, Rs 35 is what the company makes - the rest goes in taxes and retail. Chhattisgarh is currently its biggest state by sale. The company hopes that Bangalore, the spiritual home of Indian craft beer, and Delhi will soon take over.
2. What explains his choice of the two variants? Wheat (wit) beer has emerged as the most popular variant after lager in India. The darker stout was a gamble. There was a white space in the market because none of the beer start-ups, apart from micro breweries, marketed a stout. It is now 15 per cent of overall sales and Bhatia says, it underlines the fact that you can experiment in India. The founder is tight-lipped but hints the company is in a R&D stage with other beer products.
3. Now for the most important thing: The company manufactures out of its own plant in Bhilai in Chhattisgarh. This helps in quality control. Also, the company calls itself a "craft" brand and you can't be really craft unless it's your brewery, produced in smaller batches with special ingredients, or independent (in some countries, can't be owned by a larger corporate beyond a certain percentage). Simba has invested about Rs 60 crore in the plant.