Picture this: A young man in his mid-20s is out to enjoy a few drinks on a Saturday night with his friends. It being a weekend, they have to play the waiting game at the bar and stand in a queue to get their mocktails and cocktails. As they wait for their drinks to arrive, a thought strikes this young man – “Why can’t we have ready-to-drink mocktails which one just opens, pours and drinks? Not only would it save time for the bartender, it would have consistency in taste as well and people like me wouldn’t have to wait for their drink… Also, there are no such drinks in the market.” This thought was turned into reality by Siddh Desai, who now at 28, runs Mexer Foods & Beverages LLP which was born in the city of dreams, Mumbai, 15-months back.
Mexer Foods & Beverages launched their range of ready-to-drink, non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages under the brands – Mixtale Beverages and Spicetale Beverages. After being bootstrapped for a period of 15 months, the team is now on a journey to raise their first round of funding. In spite of being bootstrapped, Mixtale and Spicetale is available across 800 stores in Mumbai and the company clocked revenues of Rs 5 million in the first year of operations. Plans are now on for expansion in Chandigarh and Delhi to be followed by Bengaluru, Pune and Tamil Nadu in its second year of operations.
“We are glad to see the response. Recreational beverages are making their way into the country and the consumer demands more options apart from the regular and what is available. All our drinks can be enjoyed straight up anytime, anyplace and be used as mixers for cocktails,” says Siddh.
While Mixtale is coined from mixology, cocktails and tales, Spicetale comes from Indian spices and tales. Mexer offers mojito, blue curacao, long island iced tea, Indian tonic water and ginger ale under Mixtale and jeera masala and ginger masala under Spicetale. Takeaway bottles, the premium mocktails – mojito, long island iced tea and blue curacao are priced at Rs 55 for 300 ml. The mixers – ginger ale and tonic water — cost Rs 40 for 300 ml while jeera masala and ginger masala are priced at Rs 20 for 300 ml.
Ask him to take you through his brief journey and Siddh turns nostalgic. “When we started the venture in 2016, we did face a number of initial hiccups. Challenges knocked our door at every step – from the time of the idea striking me to implementing the plans. However, we have been lucky with the right ecosystem. However, we face challenges on a daily basis from raw material procurement to distribution to sales to marketing. It took us almost six months to lock the flavours, decide the name and the production aspect. Soon after, we were ready to set the ball rolling,” he shares.
Siddh and his team did a lot of bar and market research to understand the commonly consumed mocktails and cocktails and finally, they had their top three: mojito, blue curacao and long island iced tea. Their next choice was mixers and it came down to tonic water and ginger ale.
With no formal training, wasn’t it difficult? “We worked on the same format on how a mother learns to take care of a child. The same way, we are getting groomed by our baby,” replies Siddh who always wanted to be an entrepreneur. “I come from a business family where I have seen my parents and extended family that has been involved in family business. Though as a kid, I always wanted to be a cricketer,” he puts in.
With the production unit in Gujarat, why did they choose to market the products in Mumbai first? “Mumbai being the business centre of India, our idea was that if we succeed the financial capital of the country, no other region will be an issue. Hence, we chose it. Additionally, we all from the team are Mumbaikars so we understand the market as well,” explains Siddh who started off doing a lot of events, store promotions and tasting sessions to gauge the acceptability of these products.
On how big or small is the ready-to-drink (RTD) mocktail and mixer market in India and across the world, he says, “I would like to answer this question differently. When we entered 15 months ago, there was no major player in the market. Now, there are a number of known brands who have entered the RTD space which validates our idea. I think this is the next big category which is waiting to explode. The markets across the world have always been quite competitive with a number of players co-existing.”