Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Aayush Agrawal: Wok the talk

Ruchika Shah
Published: Feb 6, 2019 02:26:16 PM IST
Updated: Feb 6, 2019 02:30:00 PM IST

Aayush Agrawal: Wok the talkAayush Agrawal  says opening more restaurants is key to serving more customers
Image: Mexy Xavier

Aayush Agrawal | 29
Managing Director, Wok Express
Category: Food & Hospitality

Aayush Agrawal always wanted to be in the food business. He set up the CakeBred bakery in 2014, but sold it soon after as it wasn’t lucrative enough. For his next run, he picked Chinese food. The idea for Wok Express was to start a pan-India brand that bridged the gap between Chinese street food and fine dining. From four outlets in 2015, the year it launched, the company now has 32, with two in Pune and the rest in Mumbai.

Wok Express uses premium ingredients but keeps prices low by buying in bulk from the vendors. One of its most popular offerings is ‘Make your own Wok’ through which customers can create a Chinese meal bowl with the Subway concept of picking your own ingredients; it accounts for nearly 50 percent of the business. The menu also has set meal bowls, Agrawal says, to guide new customers. There are also Value Woks at an entry-level price of ₹55, providing a complete meal.

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“Today, a lot of young ones are getting into the hospitality business. The idea is to create a good product, identify the market, and what it really needs, and if you can fill a gap and hit people’s hard chakra, with the right price, hygienic food and quirky branding, you can attract millennials and other target [audiences] in India,” says Vicky Ratnani, culinary director, Gourmet Investments Private Limited, and founder of Hello Green.  

Wok Express closed FY18 with a revenue of ₹14.67 crore and is at a current run rate to close FY19 at ₹40 crore.

Convenience in the dine-in and delivery experiences is another core factor for Wok Express. “We don’t expect people to wait for food; we only cater to a 3-5 km radius. So, opening more restaurants is key to serving more customers,” says Agrawal, who plans to open 270 outlets across India in five years with a ₹100-150 crore investment.

Aayush Agrawal: Wok the talk

(This story appears in the 15 February, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)