As a youngster in Agra, Neelam Singh felt a lack of good fast-food chain outlets. When she decided to become an entrepreneur, she was reminded of this very gap. That is how Gurugram-based The Burger Company came into being

India’s Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market is slated to reach $827.63 billion by 2025. Over the years, this segment has gained immense popularity, thanks to millennials’ eating out habits, changing lifestyles, rising disposable income, and more. Factors like international players (McDonald’s, Dominos, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King) making headway into the Indian market have also given this industry a push.

Neelam Singh was always a foodie by heart, and it was her love for food that eventually led her to become an entrepreneur. After working with Genpact and ICICI Lombard, she quit her job in 2017 to start her own food business. She says she also wanted to target another gap in the market by opening a fast-food chain for youngsters specifically, preferably college and school students residing in Tier II and Tier III cities.

“I grew up in Agra and there were not many places in those times where we could hang around,” she says. Today, fast-food chains across the country have considerably grown and Neelam hopes to carve a niche in this very market.

To set the ball rolling, Neelam started a B2B business. “We took a small shop in the food court in one of the corporates, converted it into a kitchen, and supplied to corporates like Sapient (in Gurgaon). We offered mainly burgers and beverages.” Seeing the burgers getting a good response, Neelam felt encouraged to take this a step further to start her own fast-food business called The Burger Company, and in 2018, she opened an outlet in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon. The biggest advantage of first trying and testing the model through the B2B segment was instant feedback and an opportunity to perfect the product before launching in a B2C format. “Moreover, when we made some changes or experimented with the food items, the customers (who were employees) were able to taste them and give us a review.”

Neelam also got an insight into the taste palate of the younger generation. She adds that she and her husband, Nitesh Dhankar, who joined the company later as a co-founder, have invested around Rs 12 lakh in the business.