Vivek Gupta was born and raised in Chandigarh, but upon becoming a chartered accountant, he moved to Bengaluru to look for a job in 2004. He climbed the corporate ladder, but the itch to do something different led him, Abhay Hunjara, and Joe Manavalan to co-found Licious in 2015.He is now the CEO of Licious, an online platform where customers can order all types of meat. It was a challenging journey, but even amid the pandemic, Licious has continued to thrive. Here are a few facts to know about Gupta.
1. He Comes from a Vegetarian Family
India has the highest number of vegetarians globally, although over 70% of the population is non-vegetarian. Gupta comes from the remaining percentage; according to Forbes India, his family is hardcore vegetarian. Due to the lifestyle, his father feared how friends and family would take the news that Gupta had gone into the meat selling business.
2. Gupta and Hanjura Resigned on the Same Day
Gupta was on the way to tremendous success in the corporate world. After starting his career in Tavant Technologies as the Corporate Finance Manager, he wound up being the Financial Controller at Helion Ventures. Hanjura, on the other hand, began his career at India Insure Risk Management Services, where he was Deputy Manager; later on, he became the Associate Director and Head of Business Insurance at Futurisk Insurance Broking Private Company. Despite both men holding high-paying jobs, they gave the checks up in March 2015 when they decided to follow their passion. Hanjura wrote his resignation letter, which Gupta copied.
3. He Learned That No One Likes a Failure
After getting some capital in June 2015, Licious was ready to launch in August, but everything failed, and operations had to be shut down. By September 2015, they were back to operating fully, and in November 2015, they only had about $135,000 left in the bank. As a result, Gupta and his co-founders needed more money; hence series B funding was held in November 2017, but it was unsuccessful. He believes the failure was because investors were skeptical about a meat business being successful in India. He saw those who had warned them against going into meat selling were getting ready to celebrate the business failure. Luckily, some investors returned, offering them capital to move forward.
4. Hanjura Pushed Him to Meat Selling Business
Manavalan had always had an entrepreneurial spirit; thus, he established Painted Platters in 2002. While operating his business, he met Gupta and Hanjura, and the three became friends. Manavalan said that for a long time, Hanjura had been interested in starting a business centered on meat. Still, since Gupta was a vegetarian, he wondered how they could go about it. As Gupta told Business2Business, he is grateful to Hanjura for pulling him into the meat selling business world that has become so successful that it is being showcased on Discovery Channel.
5. What Inspired Him to Go for High-Quality Meat
When Hanjura convinced Gupta about selling meat in India, they were still wondering how to make it different. They got their answer one day during lunch. According to Startup Talky, the two co-founders were eating chicken which they found to be of poor quality; therefore, Gupta told his friend that if they were to venture into Licious, they better breathe life into the chicken. Consequently, Licious uses in-house spices that don’t contain preservatives. They also keep changing the marinades to avoid monotony.
6. He Was Scared to Quit His Job
As much as both Hanjura and Gupta were eager to do something different other than sitting in their corner offices, one of them was scared. Hanjura’s persistence got to Gupta hence the decision to quit their jobs on the same day. However, it was not easy for Gupta, who was already married with children, but in the end, he knew that fear would drive him to work harder because he could not afford to fail.
7. He Learned How To Judge Meat Quality from Hanjura
Since Gupta comes from a strict vegetarian background, he did not know how to judge meat quality, a necessity in selling meat. Thankfully, Hanjura, who has always loved meat, had become an expert thus taught his friend. The two had been having lunch regularly after meeting through their jobs; hence by the time the idea of Licious was developed, Gupta was right in his judgment of the chicken that sparked the direction Licious would take.
8. He Believes Failure is Important to Succeed
Business World asked Gupta the advice he would give to young entrepreneurs, and he said that people should not shy away from failure and challenging the status quo. He speaks from experience, and since he almost failed at his startup, he appreciates that success is sometimes accompanied by failure.
9. His Background in Venture Capitalism Came in Handy at Licious
When Licious began operating, they got about 1,300 orders in a month. 90% of the customers returned, which meant they had tried and tested the quality being offered and were satisfied. While that would have influenced Gupta and the co-founders to expand to other areas to capture a broader market, he opted to stay consolidated. For two years, Licious did not expand until 2017, when they added Hyderabad to their area of operation before moving on to Delhi, Noida, and Gurugram. He explained that consolidating the business was more important than expanding but now that they are already profitable, they have added five more cities. According to Live Mint, Licious is planning to reach 20 more locations by September 2022.
10. He is Hopeful That the Stigma Surrounding Meat Will End
In India, there is stigma about buying certain products; hence they are sold in back polythene bags. Such products include meat, sanitary towels, liquor, and meat. The stigma surrounding meat is what led to Hunjara’s father threatening to disown his son. Still, people continue eating meat which Gupta has come to term as hypocrisy in his home country, and he hopes that it will end one day. Hanjura added that it would be an outstanding achievement if the black polythene bags are discarded from the meat industry.