Inspired during a party, these IIM graduates decided to create a brand of cocktail mixers D2C

IIM alumni and friends Aakriti Goyal, Tulika Priya and Bhanujeet Choudhary were experimenting with cocktails at a house party when they saw a market opportunity: cocktail mixers.

The trio gleaned the need for a platform that offered authentic cocktail mixers to provide a superior experience for people who wanted to make cocktails at home.

In 2020, this led to the birth of Delhi-based Drinktales, a brand of premium cocktail mixers that aims to “deliver the experience of a bar without having to create cocktails from scratch”.

“With the help of our team of experts, we created products with natural flavors that evolved from constant feedback from mixologists. We believe that every product is about innovation and magic brewing,” says Tulika.

All flavors are classic cocktail flavors with a twist; all created with constant feedback from mixologists, food experts and customers. The products are made in Uttarakhand.

“COVID and lockdowns have made house parties the new norm and consumers want to try new products that can help improve their house party experience. This has enabled many new-age beverage brands, including including Drinktales, to stand out,” says Tulika.

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What does it offer?

Drinktales, which aims to “help shape cocktail culture for the progressive consumer of tomorrow,” aims to develop innovative products to make dating and traveling convenient and fun for the smart, curious and cocktail-loving audience.

“We created India’s first powdered cocktail mixer flavor, and continued to create more products to enhance the home party and bar experience, such as dehydrated toppings, drink rimmers , bar tools, etc.”, explains Tulika.

The D2C platform now offers products in four categories: cocktail mixers, garnishes, merchandise (bar tools and board games), and gifts. However, the main product is the cocktail mixer; it comes in a pack of four single-use sachets. Each sachet can be mixed with alcohol (depending on flavor) and water/soda to make a cocktail in 30 seconds.

“Our five flavors, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, Old-fashioned, Chilly Margarita and Cinnamon Sangria, cover all alcohol bases. So to make a Margarita you need to mix 60ml of tequila with 60ml of water, add a sachet of Drinktales Margarita Mix and stir. There you go!” said Tulika.

The team and the context

The three co-founders are IIM alumni with over 15 years of combined experience. Bhanujeet comes from a product management background and works on Drinktales products and operations. Aakriti, with a background in product management, handles product innovation and sales while Tulika works on marketing and branding.

“We see an opportunity to help people make authentic drinks with a leisurely and creative DIY experience. Our mixers save cocktail lovers the hassle of a long shopping list and bartender effort, while keeping the fun in the game. All they have to do is mix and stir, and be a cocktail connoisseur,” says Tulika.

As a niche FMCG brand, retail holds a sizable share of the startup’s target audience, which has made expansion amid the lockdown a major channel.

The founder reworked his strategy, focusing on building a D2C channel and boosting the brand’s online presence.

The startup is now moving towards a stable retail strategy by partnering with distributors across India. Drinktales products are available in more than 50 retail stores in Delhi, Goa and Chennai, and commercial chains like Modern Bazar and Le Marche across India.

Revenue, growth and future

Since its inception last year, the founders claim to have generated revenue of around Rs 50 lakh.

Tulika says its revenue comes from three main channels: online sales (website, grocery, e-commerce), offline sales (retail), and B2B sales (events, giveaways).

Both online and offline retail channels are B2C channels and contribute a large portion of their revenue. B2B mainly includes gifts (corporate and events) and the HoReCa segment. The SKUs are priced at Rs 180 for a pack of four drinks; others are available from Rs 399 (bar tools) to Rs 2,799 (gift box). The average order value on the website is around Rs 500.

“We are working on a unitary economy which is beneficial to us. Our gross margin is around 75%. Drinktales was launched as a seeded venture with an investment of around Rs 20 lakh between the founders. We have secured angel funding from three individual investors of approximately Rs 36.5 lakh and are seeking seed funding,” Tulika said.

Speaking of the competition, she says: “The format (powder) in which our product is present sets us apart from the competition. Our products are mess-free, travel-friendly and new-age – they stand apart from liquid mixers and allow cocktail enthusiasts to experiment with base and garnishes to create their own versions.

There are companies like Jade Forest, Borecha and Swa Artisanals in the space.

Drinktales aspires to be a niche beverage brand “that can resonate with the joy of cocktails and good times”.

“We want to be present in over 500 retail stores in India by 2022. We are looking at Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Our goal is to become a D2C player for cocktail mixers and other party products,” says Tulika.

The brand aims to expand its reach through grocery stores and hyperlocal delivery platforms like Swiggy, Dunzo, Big Basket, Milk Basket, etc.

“We are building a strong team to expand our B2B reach and want to have good HoReCa distribution and enter the gift market,” says Tulika.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

Joseph K. Bennett