Jai and Sumit shared a brotherly interest in opening a cafe of their own. In 2020, Jai Chopda, a science student realized his dream could be hatched into a reality. Jai didn’t shy away from the dysfunctional market but saw an opportunity to get stuck in. Jai and Sumit co-own a cafe franchise by the name Xero Degrees. He’s adamant that his meandering career, successes, and failures alike have provided useful lessons.
While studying at V. M. Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality (VMSIIHE), Jai spent evenings and weekends, meticulously researching the food industry in Goa and looking for opportunities. Later on, after proposing the plan to their father, they ascertained to bring a well-known franchise into Goan Markets. Jai and Sumit launched Xero Degrees in the month of October and the cafe was an immediate success. Their inventive menu and the cafe’s voguish ambience attracted a lot of customers. Jai credits his propensity in running a cafe to what he learnt at the institute in his second year.
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What’s it like to own a cafe at such an early age, the trials and tribulations of opening a franchise, and running it successfully. We at Goan Insider were excited to learn from Jai. Read below to know his experience.
In the beginning, what motivated you to open a café in Panjim, right in the capital of Goa?
From my experiences during the internships that I had to undergo as part of my institution curriculum, I realized that I enjoy selling and the upselling part of the business. Despite my older brother being an engineer, owning a cafe had been a long-term dream for both of us, and post a transplant continuing work as an engineer would no longer be feasible for my brother, so it seemed like the perfect time to act on our dream. This fueled my drive to open a cafe in Panjim. My brother and my parents had my backing throughout. Their support keeps me motivated to date and is one of my biggest strengths. Also, my food and beverage Professor, Ms. Gauri Patil, V. M. Salgaocar Institue of International Hospitality Education (VMSIIHE), strongly encouraged me to take up the opportunity and give it my very best.
How did you and your brother support yourselves financially?
During the initial planning, we were supposed to take on a small project. However, while planning, we happened to show our dad the project, and he was impressed, so he suggested that we look into bringing a well-known franchise into the Goan market. So we began our research and what would have otherwise been a gloomy scenario turned into one fuelled by passion. We thought of getting the Halidirams franchise but realized that wouldn’t be best suited for Goan markets. Soon we zeroed in on a popular cafe chain in Delhi called Xero Degrees and thought it was the perfect fit. We convinced our father to invest after multiple conversations and project file edits. With months’ worth of research and planning coming into order, we signed the deal.
Owning a café at such a young age, how does that make you feel?
I feel proud and responsible. Since I am still a third-year student at VMSIIHE and I’m only at the restaurants on weekends, it does get a bit hectic, but I thrive on the drive. Using the skills that I learned during my first two years at the institution and the on-ground experience I was able to gain during my internships, I can manage the logistics, costing, and upkeep of the restaurant from management, housekeeping, food and beverage to food production. Back at the campus, we organized events as part of our curriculum. We had to plan everything, including the budgeting and the Food and Beverage. These two subjects gave me an insight into running my restaurant, especially when it comes to setting the budgets for rent, electricity, service, whether it would be feasible, what would our break-even point be per day, and so on.
Looking back what’s one thing you wish you understood about running a café before you even started?
One thing I wish I understood would be the distribution process, especially in Goa. In other states, the distributors rely on the restaurants. However, in Goa, it’s the opposite. Distribution is once a week since the distributors are located either in the extreme North Goa or the extreme south of Goa. However, now we have understood this process, and every day is a new learning process.
What popular business advice do you disagree with?
I believe that anyone who wants to start up a business should take their time and engage in an adequate amount of research before investing and not just get carried with the hype of investing right away.
Where did you draw inspiration from for such an aesthetically appealing ambience and design?
Based on my research before opening a restaurant, we realized Goa needed a vibrant, comfortable place in Panjim where a person could have a fun time with some delicious food along with their friends and family members. So we decided to go with the franchise Xero Degrees since their ambience was aesthetically appealing, and they had tasty presentable food and good service.
Tell us about bringing Xero Degrees to Goa and mending it in our culture
It was quite a gamble since Xero Degrees is more established in the north of India. Its presence in the south of the country isn’t widely known. Also, after a lot of research, young Goans are game for new flavors and culinary experiences. Ours is the first outlet that has opened in the south, and we realized that the project would be successful since we studied the area and understood that not many cafes were offering the same type of service, food, or ambience that we are offering.
Xero Degrees serves American and Italian Cuisine fused with Desi love. We would love to know more about the tasteful delights?
Our signature dishes are our fries and shakes. The butter chicken fries and the brownie shake are our bestsellers. We plan on adding a healthy addition to our menu by offering keto salads.
As we know, Xero Degrees is a popular chain in North India especially Delhi, how was your experience of opening a franchise and connecting with the business?
Xero Degrees is well established in the North. However, when we pitched the Goa project idea to them, they too had their reservations. We had to convince them that we would receive local support, after which we came to an understanding. The brand owners are amazing people to work with as they supported us with the staffing, interiors, and whatever else we required. So far, collaborating with them has been a fascinating experience.
Xero Degrees inspires creativity and broadens the culinary experience with a lot of variety. What kept you motivated for such an experimental menu?
I have a pretty good understanding of what people tend to gravitate towards, especially food- the ingredients and the flavors. I developed this skill during my interning days. Apart from the flavors, the presentation also goes a long way. I wanted to introduce our customers to a new culinary experience wherein we provide them scrumptious food but plated in an artistic form and in a way, I was confident we could provide them with this experience at Xero Degrees.
How would you describe your café’s success so far?
Our cafe received an exceptional amount of love and support, which wasn’t expected, in such a short amount of time. Initially, the first few days were slow, but now we are packed every weekend. Even on weekdays, we have a substantial amount of customers. We have earned a very positive response, and we are at our peak this month. We are very close to having the highest revenue per day among all the franchise outlets. So we are pretty excited about our progress.
Do you plan to open at more locations in Goa?
In the future, if all goes well, we do plan to open more outlets, specifically in Margao and Vasco. Apart from that, my brother and I have plans to open our own sports pub and restaurant, which will be in Panjim.
What are we expecting next at Xero Degrees?
You can look out for the new flavors that we intend to bring out in a new edition of our menu. It will mostly be a Goan twist on the cuisine we are offering. We are very exhilarated with the new upcoming editions.
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