Ankur Jain, founder of B9 Beverages Pvt Ltd that sells the popular Bira 91 beer, calls his plans audacious. One year after he launched Bira 91 in India, Jain launched it in New York City at a time when the company was struggling to meet demand in its home market and was cash-strapped. He now plans to take Bira 91 to five more countries by next summer. In an interview, Jain spoke his plans and ambition. Edited excerpts:
Despite your limited presence (12 cities at present) in India, you are entering so many global cities. Isn’t it too early?
The ambition for us has revised to get consumers shift toward more colours and flavours, globally.
Consumers are looking for more diversions and brands have failed to bring those. We have realized that there is a space for global craft beer brand, and we are very well-positioned to actually take leadership position. The goal here is can we switch the mainstream consumers of beer to drink ours. We’ve been trying to create the market for flavourful beers.
US has been a great learning for us, and we’ll replicate a similar strategy in the new markets—the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates—based on our learning in India and the US.
Why did you choose these markets?
We have evaluated more than 60 markets (cities) before finalizing these five. It was a triangulation of three things that we analysed—size of the market, the level of evolution that the market has had in terms of consumer preference regarding colours and flavours, and importance of the market in the global cultural scale.
So, focus is going to be the international markets?
No, India obviously is the hub for us and will be our largest market. But at the same time, we want to look at both west and east targeting the millennials. Over the next 3-4 years, we’ll have to crack these markets and consolidate, and then grow. The opportunity is huge in each of these markets. By the time we hit Rs1,000 crore in sales, about 90% of our revenue will be from India, and around 5% from US and the rest from other markets.
So, that’s the larger goal?
I think about a 20-year picture. Over the next 20 years, if we execute on our ambition of changing the world of beer, we’ll be the global leader in the category. We are at the same place where Nike was in 1977. Like they have redefined the world of sneakers, we need to redefine the world of beer.
This will require huge investments. How much will you need to raise?
Over the next few years, we’re going to deploy a large amount. Some of that will come from debt and some from equity. We may need to raise around $150 million over the next three-four years.
How long it will take Bira to start making money?
Every Bira bottle makes money. We are breaking even by early next year.