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HTLS 2017 speaker Neeraj Kakkar: Smooth sail on a steady boat

Neeraj Kakkar is co-founder and CEO of Hector Beverages.

htls Updated: Nov 28, 2017 15:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2017,HTLS 2017,Neeraj Kakkar
Neeraj Kakkar saw an opportunity in the traditional drinks and foods segment

Making a mark in the Indian packaged food sector isn’t something that consumer startups usually attempt to do. The sector is largely dominated by big corporate brands such as Dabur, PepsiCo and ITC, among others. But Neeraj Kakkar, chief executive officer of Hector Beverages Pvt. Ltd, saw an opportunity in the traditional drinks and foods segment.

In 2011, Kakkar and Neeraj Biyani, both former Coca-Cola employees, launched Hector’s first energy drink, Tzinga. “After almost one year of doing Tzinga, we realised that we were keen to drink aam panna more than anything else,” Kakkar said in an interview last December.

The company first launched two ethnic drinks — aamras and jaljeera under the PaperBoat brand in Bangalore in 2013 -- and later expanded the product to cities in northern India. Incidentally, Paper Boat sold faster in the north market.

Within a year of its launch, Paper Boat started selling close to 1.2 million packs every month. In July 2014, Hector Beverages said its sales had nearly doubled after launch of its ethnic drinks range.

By 2015, Hector was valued at $100 million and raised more than $30 million from investors such as Advent Management and Hillhouse Capital Group. Venture Capital funds including Catamaran Ventures and Sequoia Capita that usually focus on online companies also put money in Hector.

In April that year, the company tied up with Japanese Ramen noodles maker Indo Nissin for distributing PaperBoat drinks in Tier-II cities and rural markets.

PaperBoat also produces seasonal and festival-specific drinks -- Thandai during Holi, Panakam during Ram Navami and Serbet-e-khaas during Ramadan.

Hector sells its beverages on online grocery ordering platforms including Bigbasket and Grofers, and e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart. The brand now has retail presence across cafes such as Barista Lavazza, airlines such as Indigo and Jet Airways, and hotels such as Westin and Trident.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 20:45 IST