Despite being a late entrant to India’s crowded fast-food sector, where rival McDonald’s has been entrenched for nearly two decades, Burger King Worldwide managed to whip up a frenzy before opening its first shop. Preselling its burgers on eBay, it drew online orders for 1,200 Whoppers (mutton, chicken and vegetarian but no beef) for $2 apiece, all within a few hours.
Thanks to the e-buzz, more than 5,000 people thronged Burger King’s first outlet when it opened in a New Delhi mall last November. The chain has gone on to open ten restaurants in all so far–five each in Delhi and Mumbai.
“We don’t believe in growing slowly,” declares Sameer Sain, cofounder and managing partner of Everstone Group, a Singapore-registered private equity outfit with a 25-year master franchise for Burger King in India. The multinational fast-food chain, which is owned by gonzo equity firm 3G Capital, bypassed several bigger suitors in 2013 when it selected little-known Everstone for India.
Though a dark horse, Everstone was no stranger to the counter trade. It had 244 eateries, including popular local chains such as Copper Chimney, Bombay Blues and Noodle Bar. Moreover, Everstone was willing to invest for the long haul–up to $80 million in a nationwide rollout: “We were hungry for the business,” admits managing partner Atul Kapur, who cofounded the firm with Sain in 2006.