Tragedy struck the lives of Akash Mhaske and Aditya Kirtane in mid-2020 amid the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The childhood friends who went on to become engineers had spent the first month of the lockdown watching movies, but the continuation of the restrictions led their respective employers to lay them off. Rather than applying for jobs in this Maharashtra city blessed with some industrial activity in the vicinity, they decided to start out on their own. Reading books on successful businesses cemented the decision. But they were not sure of what exactly to do.
A vocational training course on meat and poultry processing conducted by a local varsity was the serendipity moment. The business idea was to enter the highly unorganised meat market with a credible offering to retail consumers on demand. The idea was seemingly odd and the budding entrepreneurs did not receive full support from their families initially.
“Our families initially thought that no one would marry us because of the nature of work we are doing. Later they stood with us,” Aditya Kirtane told PTI.
Starting from a 100 sq ft space in their neighbourhood with a seed investment of Rs 25,000 managed by friends from their savings, their venture ‘Apetitee’ grew well, and now does a turnover of over Rs 4 lakh a month. While the business continued to gain traction, it also got spotted by Fabi Corporation, another city company. Fabi has bought a majority stake in Apetitee for Rs 10 crore recently, and the company’s co-founders Kirtane and Mhaske will continue to be with the brand with minority stakes.
“The profit margin they work with is 40 per cent. Selling meat is an entirely unorganised segment in Aurangabad,” Fabi’s director Fahad Syed said.
Syed said after the deal, the brand name “Apetitee” will continue and they will introduce newer products like pre-marinated products. A slew of investments have also been planned, he added. These will include the development of an application for consumers to place orders, revamping 100 shops in the next three years to ensure the brand has a physical presence and creating a fleet of electric vehicles to transport the orders to doorsteps, Syed said. The new management is marketing the venture through online mediums and relying on the word of mouth as well, Syed said, exuding confidence that the brand will create 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in Aurangabad as the expansion happens.
Plans are also afoot to take the venture beyond Aurangabad into other tier-II and tier-III cities of Maharashtra, he said.