Vidhatha, Harsha & Subba Raju: Transcending Indian Brewery To Global Glory | CEOInsights Vendor
Vidhatha, Harsha & Subba Raju: Transcending Indian Brewery To Global Glory

Vidhatha, Harsha & Subba Raju: Transcending Indian Brewery To Global Glory

Vidhatha, Harsha, Subba Raju, & Teja Chekuri,  Managing Partners

Vidhatha, Harsha, Subba Raju, & Teja Chekuri

Managing Partners

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!" This maxim of Helen Keller indeed emphasizes the power and magic of Unity. Combining complementary expertise, experiences, and ideas, these four friends reunited to prove the `Magic' of unity. Sree Harsha Vadlamudi, Subba Raju Penmatsa, Annamaneni Vidhatha, and TejaChekuri despite hailing from different backgrounds and settings had one thing in common determination and fortitude to pursue their passion and not settle for what's fate. The mates co-founded Ironhill to produce a fantastic range of Craft Beers. They have been leveraging the wisdom of expert brew masters from around the world, unearthing some of the most supreme flavors.

Their courage was all that it took to turn a casual business idea into a brand today. CEO Insights engages in an exclusive conversation to deduce more about their journey and brainchild. Below are excerpts from the interview with the team.

Share the influences and experience from your Alma mater?
Sree Harsha Vadlamudi, Subba Raju Penmatsa, and Annamaneni Vidhatha:
VIT has imbued a spirit to seek innovation and transformation in everything we do. The institution fuelled this passion and shaped our enthusiasm. The faculty and peers definitely made us solve complex problems and helped us thrive as result-oriented professionals. The journey with the institute transformed us as individuals, right from my thought process. The learnings are helping us portray the best in every role we take charge of.

Teja Chekuri:
Life at Sree Vidyanikethan was indeed transformative, giving me a great deal of understanding of the world, and of course, it has been contributing to who I am today. The close network I could build and the great memories associated with the college are always cherishable.

When you go through the rigors of engineering, you learn a lot of academic and non-academic skills. Apart from the science of things, it taught me how to manage deadlines, find creative solutions to problems, and also equipped me with the necessary skills to communicate with different people from all walks of life.

Tell us about the journey of building Ironhill India.
Ironhill India was born to recreate the spirit of good times and pleasant memories over a fantastic range of Craft Beers and lip-smacking bites. From humble beginnings in Vizag in 2017, we have spread our footprint to Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Nellore, with Bengaluru being the largest microbrewery in the world. We are
also one of the fastest growing micro breweries worldwide, with sales crossing the Rs.150 Cr mark within four years since inception.

We are one of the innovators and value providers in the craft beer industry. We have a wide range of craft beers to suit every taste palate, our food is a healthy mix of world cuisine as well as local cuisine and each of our outlets is eclectically designed so that it fosters the craft culture experience. What makes us unique is that we are not a one-trick pony, we are not just about craft beers ­we are an f&b focused experience center ­ with craft beers, curated cocktails, and delicious food, in an ambiance that binds it all together, with intermittent carefully selected events being the value add for our patrons.

What did the pandemic mean to you? Have you made any changes to your supply chain strategies in the aftermath of COVID-19?
When the pandemic hit, there was a lack of information and a plethora of misinformation doing rounds, so it was quite an uncertain period. While we must admit that it gave us quite a few sleep less nights, we had the right team in place and knew that we would be back in business on a war footing. A huge extent has proven to be true, as a business has in some ways exceeded our expectations and done better than in pre-pandemic times.

Ironhill Craft Beers are a testimony to the real value of authentic and flavor of highquality ingredients sourced locally and internationally

What we learned from this pandemic is that the future is wildly unpredictable, but it is also reaffirmed by the belief that there is no substitute for hard work, perseverance, and courage. We could have the best talent on board, but it doesn't mean much if it isn't backed by the ability to have the belief, dig in and stay the course during trying times. This is something undeniably mandatory for each of our team members to embrace.

As for our supply chain, we have automated the whole inventory management process and made it leaner, so we have a lot less buff stock in hand and as a result the wastages have come down too. We only order from the most trusted and vetted suppliers, whom we know will not only be able to supply goods of the highest quality but who will also back us up should there be a disruption in the market.

Tell us about the opportunities that you foresee in the F&B market.
The F& B market is growing at a rapid pace, and in my opinion, a lot more is yet to come as dining out gains traction. The craft beer market is to gain widespread attention and there is a huge scope for expansion, as the scene is not really showing any signs of getting saturated, even in cities like Bengaluru. Soon Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will also embrace the dining-out scene in an even
bigger way and we reckon that's a space we have always maintained our presence and interest in.

For now, we are in a rapid expansion phase, and we hope to have a Pan-India presence with at least 30 or so outlets in the next five years.

Give a brief account of your flagship offerings.
We have about five beers and a couple of ciders on tap at any given time. We are known for our low hop, easy to drink, flavorful beers. We are known for Wheat beers, having recently even won the Beer of India awards for our Belgian Wit. Our Sincity cider is also quite popular and we often experiment and launch new flavors, for example, the last cider was the Kiwi Cider and it was quite unique in that it had a visually striking green color along with a refreshingly sweet and tart taste. Our customers do come to us for various events, we support regional artists, so you will often find us hosting gigs that focus on regional music.

Could you tell us about the culture that builds a sustainable business model?
We have a long term goal of economically supporting the development of local communities as well as the beer culture. If you trace our journey, you will see that we began with Tier-II cities, and this was done intentionally because we saw a market that was relatively untouched, and bringing craft beers to such cities would inadvertently have a ripple effect that would spread to other towns and bolster the craft beer culture from grassroots. We also saw this as a way of generating employment as we try and hire as many individuals from the regional area, train them, and deploy them in services, while also providing them attractive pay scales, incentives, and growth.

Tell us about the craft beer flavors you offer that take customers' taste buds on a world tour?
We have a wide range of craft beer types and we launch new beers and ciders from time to time. For the uninitiated, the newcomers to craft culture, and for those who like familiarity and consistency in their beer, we have Wonderland wheat which is a German style wheat beer with notes of banana and clove. Similarly for the more eclectic palates, we have the Sinnerman Stout ­ which is a beer that originally hails from the U.K. and has notes of coffee and dark chocolate. We have beers on tap that are inspired by Belgium, the Czech Republic, the US, and so on, and our brewers do a great job of keeping things interesting.

Harsha, Subba Raju, Vidhatha & Teja, Managing Partners, Ironhill India
Intending to bring a variety of unique flavors from different parts of the world, Ironhill aims to unite craft beer lovers with original brews.

We aim to be the leaders and innovators in the craft beer market. We want people around the country to think of us as the go-to place for their cravings be it craft beer, food, ambiance, or events. We hope to have a PAN India presence in the next five years and really revolutionize the craft beer experience ecosystem in India.

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