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A desi knows better than a videsi, QUALITY MATTERS – In conversation with Mr. Kamal Veer Singh, Founder, Knight Rider

After a hectic day at work, there are a lot of people who love to catch-up with friends or colleagues over nice drinks. Drinking at bars and clubs is a common culture, but the hike in taxes has made it an expensive affair. At such a time, the most pocket friendly idea is of gathering at an ‘Ahaata’, where you can ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ and at the same time get the same ambience and feel of any such lounge or a pub. One such BYOB outlet is in the heart of Cyber City, with its second outlet named Knight Rider Junction on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Expressway. With a capacity to host around 500 people, Business2Business got into an exclusive conversation with Mr. Kamal Veer Singh, Founder, Knight Rider exploring more about his venture and the entrepreneurial journey: 

Entrepreneurial journey: Mr. Singh shares, “Knight Rider was formed in May 2007 and before this, the concept of ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ was at a very small level. I was a big time foodie and whenever my friends and I used to go out to party, I realised that the current outlets lack proper hygiene, service, well trained staff, etc. It was that very moment that I decided to design a high-end version of this concept. When we started, the first outlet was very successful and thus we decided to open the second outlet and named it ‘Knight Rider Junction’ in Faridabad and even that is doing fantastic! In fact, as an entrepreneur, it is my first business.” Sharing more on why hospitality as a business, Mr. Singh adds, “Like I shared that I myself was always very fond of food and wanted to do something in the same line. Looking at the potential of this industry and the existing gaps, I wanted to make a difference and I did!”

Cyber Hub as a location: While Cyber Hub is a surrounding that has some of the best national and international outlets, when asked, that isn’t Cyber Hub a competition, Mr. Singh shares, “Our concept is BYOB and thus different from other outlets in Cyber Hub. Our USP is food. To this I would also like to add that the taste and quality of snacks available at our outlet are very much competent with any other outlet in entire Delhi NCR.” He adds, “If I talk about immediate competition, I compare Knight Rider to Farzi Café and Café Delhi Heights as our taste is equivalent to the food of the places which claim to be the top snacks junctions here.”

Current team: “Our current staff strength at the Cyber City outlet is 92 and at the Knight Rider Junction is 102. What I am proud of is the fact that 90% of my staff is the one who have been with us since the foundation. We started with 35 people and they are still with me. Moreover, even the people who are currently not associated with us today are either working abroad or in five stars.” When asked that what makes everyone stick with you for so long, Mr. Singh adds, “For my staff, I make sure that everyone gets their salaries on time. In addition to it, we also provide free accommodation and three time meals to our staff. For the clientele, they are served with the best food and premium services. Our place is renovated every 3-4 months, which people like and appreciate.”

Challenges faced: Mr. Singh shares, “One of the major challenge which we faced initially was that when this concept was introduced, we created a lot of hype. So our competitors either started copying us or tried to bring a bad name to our brand. They started raising issues like we are using terrace space etc. In fact a lot of challenges came from the government as well, but we took proper care of everything and followed all the rules and regulations so that there is no hindrance.”

Marketing and Promotion: Mr. Singh shares, “For marketing and promotion, we are more present in print and outdoor media and will be soon promoting ourselves in the digital media as well. We are quite active on Facebook, Zomato, Instagram, etc.” He adds that, “Zomato has been quite a productive platform, but outdoor media is bringing a lot of customers.”

Expansion Plans: Sharing more on the future plans of Knight Rider, Mr. Singh shares, “ Panchkula is the next destination where we are planning to open our outlet near IT park and next is being planned in Mohali.” When asked more about his views on franchising or introducing more business partners, Mr. Singh shares, “We plan to do all the expansion and execution by our-self. Franchising is not something that I am looking at right now.”

What’s coming up next: Mr. Singh shares, “We are soon launching an outlet with the name ‘Your Second Wife’ which will be into food delivery. As of now it will be in Gurgaon only. Also, we are in the process of introducing Sufi Nights on Wednesdays and Karaoke Nights on Saturdays in the current outlets.”

Your vision: When asked about the five year vision, Mr. Singh shares, “We plan to open around 10 plus outlets in the coming 5 years. In all the places where the government has the norms for a BYOB concept like Punjab and Chandigarh, we will be launching soon. Food delivery and outdoor catering are also on the cards. Everything will be managed in-house and will be having a central kitchen with the name Knight Rider. For me quality and hygiene will always be the motto of Knight Rider.”

Demonetisation effect- Mr. Singh shares, “ Demonetisation did not have a major impact. Yes for 2-3 days, the crowd was less, but we are at a location where the maximum crowd is from the corporates who anyways use plastic money and we have the provisions for that.”

Impact of GST: Mr. Singh shares, “I am waiting for GST to happen. As of now we are included in both VAT as well as Service Tax, so almost 20-21% goes into taxes. GST will bring it down to 18%, which will be good. I am very supportive of GST as I am sure that it will be advantageous for us”

Investment and break even: Mr. Singh shares, “Luckily break-even for Knight Rider was achieved at a very early stage. In the initial 3-4 months we started getting returns and our brand name was built. Our location is one of the most posh location of Gurgaon and we have established our name. In fact, 80% of our customers are regular. With a siting of almost 500 people, an average footfall is about 250-300 people every day. He adds, “For anyone who wants to start, a total investment of around 1.5 crore is required.”

Advice for Entrepreneurs: “Work hard and with honesty, then only you will be successful. Consistency is very important. In the hospitality industry especially, quality and hygiene are the keys. You should also be careful of the surroundings and give back to the community.”

From the staff

Shiv Kumar Sood, Executive Chef, Knight Rider who has been with Knight Rider for almost 7 years now and takes care of the entire kitchen, which has different items ranging from Chinese, Italian, Mughlai, Indian, etc. Mr. Sood shares, “ At Knight Rider food quality is something that we focus on the most. When I joined Knight Rider, I worked closely with Mr. Singh. He has motivated me at every level and that is why I and most of the staff are where we are today. All our needs are fulfilled on time, salary is always paid on time and everything is taken care of.” Talking more on the food specialties of the place, Mr. Sood shares, “ I would suggest everyone to try Dal Makhani, Bhatti Murgh and Bell Pepper Cheese Roll. Our services are very good and clients are always happy. I personally take care and go through everything that is reaching the guest. Our recipes are fixed and has set standards. The new joiners are also trained by me. I believe that this is our menu and we take care of it completely.”  

Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, Assistant Manager, Knight Rider has been with the group for 4 years now. Gaurav shares, “ The best part about working with Knight Rider is that everyone’s problem is heard and solved right there and then. The staff problems are heard on a priority basis. All the staff member are provided with facilities which no one else in the hospitality sector is providing like service charge, advance, etc. There is a personal involvement of the owner which is why no one leaves Knight Rider. The one thing that I love about is that the owner doesn’t want to let go of the old staff and vice-versa.” Talking more on his experience, Gaurav shares, “I joined as a steward and in just 3 years I am the Asst. Manager. I have improved at every stage and have seen growth here. Even after 5 years from now I know with Knight Rider I will be at a level I have not even imagined. I would wish in the coming times we have more and more outlets as we know as Knight Rider will grow, we will grow with it. 

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