How Entrepreneur Payal Saha Launched a Successful Indian Fast Food Company -Startups, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Culture

When Payal Saha first moved to the United States from India, she quickly realized that something was missing. She had grown to love the street foods of her hometown in Kolkata. So much so, that she thought, “if I missed it so much, other people must too,” said Saha.

Determined to bring a taste of her hometown to the states, the young entrepreneur raised enough startup capital from her own savings, family and friends to start a business. In 2002, Payal took a chance and started The Katy Roll Company, a high-quality, authentic fast Indian food chainlet.

Today the company serves close to half a million rolls per year in both New York City and London.

Learn how Payal Saha, without formal business training, became an entrepreneur and why she believes human respect and compassion are the cornerstones to a successful business.

Company: The Kati Roll Company
Founders: Payal Saha
Location: New York, NY
Industry: Food and Beverage
Startup Year: 2002
Startup Costs: $250,000

How I Got Started:

When I first moved to the U.S. from India, I missed the street foods of my hometown Kolkata. I thought that if I missed it so much, other people must too. With cash raised through my own savings and borrowed from family, my friend and I were the first employees of the business, making and serving a simple 11-roll menu.

I opened my first store in 2002 and I knew I was onto something when word spread about the fresh and authentic fare and soon we were faced with long lines of customers waiting to eat our food. We even needed security to keep the peace during the busy late-night hours!

Today, my unrelenting strive for authentic Indian street food served in a hip and friendly environment has garnered a loyal following with both American and Indian patrons, many of whom consider my kati rolls as a nostalgic “taste of home.”

Best Success Story:

To date, my establishment serves close to half a million rolls per year. I was also the first person to officially bring kati rolls to the U.S., facing a double edge sword of both introducing and educating customers to this new version of Indian food.

Word caught on and soon, kati rolls where showing up on the menus of Indian restaurants throughout the country.

My company has also been awarded many accolades, including “World’s Best Award: by Travel & Leisure’s reader poll, Time Out New York’s Best Restaurant of 2004 and 2005 and Time Out New York’s Best New Eatery in 2002.

Biggest Startup Challenge:

Without any formal training in business or in running a restaurant—especially in a demanding NYC marketplace— I learned everything “on the job.”

Another challenge I had faced early on: receiving an illegal eviction notice just when I had started to establish my business. But I refused to be intimated, so I took the issue to court—and won!

#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs:

 I believe that basic human respect and compassion is the cornerstone to a successful business. I do not look at my employees as workers, but as part of my extended family.

Knowing firsthand how difficult it is to make it in a new country, I set aside $0.05 cents of each roll I sell to give back to my employees through fund matching for education or to start a business.

Stay connected with The Katy Roll Company on Twitter and Facebook.

Source: How Entrepreneur Payal Saha Launched a Successful Indian Fast Food Company — YFS Magazine: Startups, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Culture

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