Can selling juice be an idea for an entrepreneur?

There had been a lot of debate over the contents of any cold-drink/soft-drink that Indian love to gulp down the throat. Then, there are individuals and groups who impose a mind-boggling self-restraint saying a polite no whenever somebody tries to persuade them to drink it. These restrained people also overcome their own compelling desire to drink it. Furthermore, there is a childlike-attraction that soft-drinks/cold-drinks garner. I landed on something different but interesting.

Patiala Bus-stand
Patiala Bus-stand
Juice kiosk
Juice kiosk at Patiala Bus-stand

I was traveling from Chandigarh after submitting my form in the passport office when I reached the bus-stand of Patiala. Now Patiala bus-stand, spacious and well maintained as per usual bus-stand standards, is one of the largest bus-stands of Punjab. It receives fair amount of foot-fall, which we will calculate later.

Right from the childhood, I have noticed and purchased litchi and apple juice from those kiosks run by Punjab Agro department. Very interestingly, unaffected by the inflation in the country, the price of one glass of litchi and apple juice has remained 5 INR from the last 10-12 years. The time when I was struck by the idea of writing this story, I had drunk four glasses of litchi juice, which tasted carbon-less (of course), tasty, and cool.

An idea or opportunity for entrepreneurs

As per the table, there are around 40k people that throng Patiala bus-stand. There are total five kiosks. Every kiosk has a daily sale of 3000-3500 INR, which means it serves roughly 600-700 people per day. The vending-boy is paid 150 INR per day.

The average quantity of the glass is 190ml. A bottle of 300ml cold-drink costs 13 INR. So, there is saving of money for the consumer while the taste and other nutritional values are always there.

Now, as an entrepreneur, do you feel there could be an idea or an opportunity in exploring this sort of business at other places? Of course, the cold-drinks business, run by MNCs, is not the target per se, but at a lower magnitude or network, this can be explored. Talk about fun-points, parks, zoos, recreational places, other public places: All these offer an opportunity where the juice can be sold.

Statistics related to no. of visitors leaving Patiala bus-stand

Foot-fall of visitors at Patiala Bus-stand
No. of Counters No. of Seats per bus Total operational hours (Peak) Frequency of bus leaving a counter with full capacity Total no. of buses leaving Patiala bus-stand with full-capacity within the peak operational hours Total no. of passengers leaving Patiala bus-stand
34 58 10 After every 30 minutes 20×34=680 680×58=39440

The numbers related to operations hours, frequency of bus-leaving a counter are assumption-based. Lots of buses run almost 1.5 of their capacity; while at the same time, lots of them leave the counter with 0.5 of their capacity. The frequency is more for some buses while it is lower for some. So, a bit of guess-work is involved. However, the actual number of people will be more than we calculated.

What makes this juice unique than the canned or bottled juice

Juice vending machines
Juice vending machines at Patiala Bus-stand

The juice these kiosks use comes from Chandigarh where they have an office in Sector 28. The office receives the juice from Himachal, which is, of course, hailed as the ‘basket of apples‘.

The juice is free of preservatives and ice: It is kept in a vending machine that keeps it cool. There is no addition of ice to make it cool, which of course would reduce the tastiness of the juice. The price is cheap and the taste is good because of frequent replenishment.

Barriers for the opportunity for entrepreneurs

Because we are talking about fresh juice, there are already a lot of shops that sell juices and challenging the new entrepreneur in the game. Moreover, we are excluding packaging and conservation; there is no point of adding tastes, colors of carbon. This lands us in a position where the variety of juice is limited, which means that areas where fresh fruits are not aplenty, this opportunity will have issues.

Fresh and frequent replenishment could also be a small issue.

Comparison with Delhi’s Kashmere Gate’s bus-stand and a glitch exposed

The previous week, I drank litchi juice at Kashmere Gate bus-stand in Delhi. The price is 8 INR though the size of the glass is bit bigger than the one sold in Patiala bus-stand. While talking to one of the vending-boy in Patiala, I asked him why they have not different glass sizes, just like Delhi people have?

He told me a secret: the size of the glass sold for 8 INR in Delhi is not double the size of the glass sold for 5 INR. Which means the consumer is at loss. However, why Patiala people do not do it? If they sell the glasses of bigger sizes for 10 INR, the vending boy makes money instead of the owner of the business. It is simple mathematics: 2 glasses of juice sold for 10 INR have should extract 380-400ml juice from the vending machine. While actually, the size of the bigger glass is 250-300ml only. At the end of the day, when the vending boy settles his account-books (!) with the owner, he pays for the juice used as per quantity. The extra earned money goes to his pocket. The boy mentioned that he sometimes used those glasses but the owner discouraged him to do so.

From the owner’s point of view, keeping the price low ensures that the product sells.

Conclusion

Well, this idea or opportunity could be explored at a small scale and later on, if it works well, franchisee or chain system can be explored. The barriers are there but so are options. As an entrepreneur, you need to select some areas where this business can thrive.

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