Brewing a success story on campus

Started by students as an experiment to learn about business, a small stall is now averaging Rs. 13,000 in sales daily, reports Amritha Venketakrishnan in Mint.

Chennai: Melting Point, a four-month-old café managed by six students of Rajalakshmi Engineering College, started out as an experiment to learn about the workings of a business. The campus venture that serves ice cream and coffee to about 4,000 students and staff in the Chennai college now reports average daily sales of Rs. 13,000.

The group of six students decided to start a cafe after toying with ideas that included setting up a paid campus wireless Internet access centre and a stationery store. The idea of setting up a rental Wi-Fi centre was rejected when they realized that they may not be able to raise the Rs. 100,000 required to pay rent for the equipment and servers to support the service, while revenue projections of the proposed stationery store failed to appeal to the group. On the other hand, food and beverages were something that will draw regular customers, they felt.

“We knew food was a constant and a commodity that we could depend on, given that we would see regular sales from a constant set of 4,000 people in college,” said Sriram Jayakumar, founding member of the student venture and a final year mechanical engineering student, who is fond of re-designing motorcycles. “That’s the kind of guarantee you can’t get elsewhere.”

With that in mind, Jayakumar and his group approached Ideal Health Syndicate, which supplies hot snacks such as puffs to railway vendors, to source food items. The deal, however, fell through at the last moment because of funding issues.

The students then searched for a local partner, who could provide them with quality products at a reasonable price. They zeroed in on state-run milk producer Aavin. The company agreed to supply juices, ice creams and rented out a freezer to the students, who had pooled in around Rs. 4,000 each to float the start-up.

Their only competition on campus was a year-old Coffee Day Express counter that served hot beverages and snacks and a contracted canteen selling traditional south Indian meals.

Read the complete article here.