An entrepreneur who gave up a lucrative job in the city to start his own food business will see his ‘Great Grub’ wraps sold in 250 Boots stores this month.
Sunil Kavuri and friend Aseef Vaza are the brains behind Go Gafoor, the company which has just launched the new range of food.
The brand is already in 50 of Sainsbury’s Local’s busiest stores across London, and this month, they launch in Boots stores nationwide.
Kavuri, 35, who did a masters at Cambridge University, left his career in the city which included working for Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.
Vaza, 38, was designing luxury leather goods that were often featured in Vogue Italia and retailed from £1200+ at luxury stores like Harvey Nichols.
Since starting their own business, however, the pair have not looked back.
“Obviously it was a big risk leaving my job. It was what I knew, but I thought I had to take the chance and go for it,” Kavuri told Eastern Eye.
“I believed that I could do something unique – bring street food to the masses – and that’s what we’re doing.”
Kavuri, who comes from an entrepreneurial family, was inspired to run his own firm after meeting businessman Lord Rumi Verjee and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.
“My uncle owns mining assets across the world, so I’ve been introduced to high-profile entrepreneurs. I was inspired and thought this would be the right time to set up my own business.”
The former banker left his last job at JP Morgan in 2012 after finding a gap in the market for “quick, on the go, food”.
He said: “I always loved street food from different cultures and there wasn’t anything quick and easy for professionals and students.
“When I was in the trading floor, we would get freshly-made food, but not everybody could afford it. I would get Japanese and Mexican food, burrito wraps; something to eat on the move. I didn’t see this in supermarkets.”
Kavuri funded the business himself with an initial £40,000 to cover costs.
He said the main outlay was the “opportunity cost” (a benefit of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else) of leaving his former job .
“I haven’t taken a loan out. I did a lot of the stuff myself to reduce costs. The biggest opportunity cost is my previous salary. If you get paid £250,000 a year at a bank, the opportunity cost of that is the most significant cost.
“The start-up cost is insignificant. Sometime the listing fee in supermarkets is around £20,000. For small players, breaking into supermarkets is a bit difficult.”
In order to make the business model “more efficient”, Kavuri and Vaza outsourced the packaging and manufacturing of the food wraps.
“We don’t have our own factory where we employ 200 workers. The manufacturer is based in Manchester, and according to our specifications, they create the range.
“They pack it and another supplier produces the authentic Indian filling,” Kavuri said.
It was in the summer of 2014 when the pair clinched the Sainsbury’s deal and shortly the one with Boots.
“I had a lot of experience doing presentations in my old job, so that set me up. It took a long time to get it into Sainsbury’s. But I always think big, so I went for the big guys straight away.”