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Verve Trendsetters
June 02, 2016

Meet The Minds Behind The Bar Stock Exchange

Text by Wyanet Vaz. Images by Prateek Patel

From losing over two crores in six months, to opening a wildly successful pub, restaurateurs Mihir Desai and Amit Singh talk to us about their journey

You don’t need to be an economics grad to understand the functioning of The Bar Stock Exchange. Just like shares at a stock market, the prices of alcohol rise and fall and can be tracked on an LED screen (and you have an app for that as well). It is not shocking to find Smirnoff priced higher than Absolut depending on its demand through the night. We got to know restaurateurs Mihir Desai and Amit Singh – the minds behind one of our favourite drinking holes. Did you know that one of the founders doesn’t even drink. What was the biggest challenge and what do their after hours taste like? Read on to understand the inner workings of their business…

The basics…
“The idea first germinated on our visit to New York a few years ago, where we came across a brewery selling beer like a stock market trades in stocks. We were fascinated by the innovation of the concept. It was then and there, that we planned to open one in Mumbai with more categories of spirits, beers and wines.”

Biggest hurdle…
“The concept excited us deeply, but the biggest challenge was developing the app and the back-end software. We took over six to eight months to finalise it. Making sure that the e-connect was streamlined was the toughest aspect.”

The best part about working with each other…
“Being childhood friends, we have done everything from events to operations together. Besides the mutual admiration for each other, we have clearly demarcated our roles and look after two different things – project development and operations.”

A favourite at The Bar Stock Exchange…
Mihir: “The missal pav fondue.”
Amit: “Chicken popcorn tikka.”

An unforgettable drinking memory…
Amit: “When the entire team of TBSE created a champagne tree for my birthday this year.”

The best part about being an entrepreneur…
“Experimenting and doing things our own way is the biggest high. There are some serious lows too, but overcoming them is the best part about being an entrepreneur.”

Start-up challenges…
“Making mistakes is essential. We ran a few spaces in Lower Parel, and we had conceptualised an Indian restaurant called Kebabish that led to a loss two crores in just six months. We didn’t give up and ran some of the most successful concepts post that.”

The economics of business…
“Make sure that the real estate expense is not more than 15 per cent of your expenditure. Ensure that your costs are under control and choose a great location.”

Favourite drinking holes…
“Yauatcha, The Bombay Canteen and The St. Regis in Mumbai. Local joints in Brazil are great. The nightlife in Thailand is quite enticing, from a food perspective as well.”

Food apps on call…
“Zomato and Swiggy.”

Upcoming projects…
“We are looking at expanding TBSE across India and internationally. We are also developing five more brands in the Asian, fine dining and concept bar segments.”

On your bucket list…
Mihir: “I want to race on an F1 track.”
Amit: “I want to sail the world on my own yacht.”

Life hacks…
“Keep your Sundays free and play a sport. It takes the edge off.”

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