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So what is common between Red Bull, Foster’s, Tuborg, Carlsberg, The Beer Cafe and The Pint Room? Yes, we know that they are all drinks but obviously that’s not what we are referring to! Pradeep “Beer” Gidwani, as the man likes to call himself is the commonality between all of the above! How? Well, nothing big but all these giant honchos have been introduced to the “Elephant” (a.k.a. India) by this man himself.
Born on 18th of June 1964, a serial entrepreneur with breathtaking 28 years of experience in beverage industry across Asia; has managed to climb his way up the ladder to success and with his out-of-the-box techniques has managed to change the face of the beer industry in India.
About Pradeep Gidwani
To begin with, Pradeep is an MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management. Since the time Pradeep first tasted his beer, it’s been his dream to be a part of this industry. But that’s not it; Pradeep has his own fascination for collecting alcohol and related stuff too! As a matter of fact, he has a collection of 35 books talking about alcohol. And his fascination doesn’t end here! His spirit collections include single-malt whiskies & wine bottles from across the world! And some of his favorite bars remain Blue Frog, Olive and Toto’s Garage in Mumbai, Buzz in New Delhi, etc!
Insider Fact: On his 40th birthday; he threw a unique birthday bash for all of his friends, where he called for spirits from all over the world such as Brazilian Cachaca, Japanese Sake and Greek Ouzo especially for that bash! Now as much as his friends enjoyed the drinks, the drinks turned out to be so hard that most of them got really high and had to stay back.
Being wise, Pradeep recommends that Chimay Blue, Hoegaarden Wit Bier, Fuller’s London Pride, Murphy’s Irish Stout & Schneider Weisse are the 5 beers that must be tried at least once before you die!
Awards and Recognitions
Over the period of time, Pradeep has also been rewarded with some of the most prestigious achievements in the industry such as Featuring on Business India as a “Front Runner” in Sep 1998 and Sep 2001, featuring on the cover of Business Today’s first ever rating of India’s Hottest Young Executives in September 2002, recognized by Business Today in the first ever listing of India’s Inc’s rising stars, featuring as Star Alumni of the top business schools stories by Business Today, India today and economic times, and so on…
Wondering how did he achieve that?
Well, just like every other successful entrepreneur, Pradeep was also a diehard workaholic and wasn’t satisfied with just 24 hours in a day! Apart from regular office, his routine also included visiting different bars and checking out how his brand was doing, how the brand was listed on the menu, what was the manufacturing date on the bottle and what did the serving staff had to say about the brand.
The making of “The Beer Man” began soon after he completed his MBA from symbiosis!
The marketing magnet that he always was and is, didn’t get a start as we all think he did. He began his career as a management trainee for Hindustan Unilever with Brooke Bond brand and was posted in Kolkata, Allahabad and Jalgaon for more than 2 years. This is where he learnt all the tricks of the trade; from processes, system, loading trucks, local sales strategies to functioning of factories, etc..! He made sure he proved his worth to the company in hopes for growth, but unfortunately according to company policies he had to spend at least five to six years in a sales position to be promoted.
This wasn’t acceptable to Pradeep hence, he decided to take a leap to the advertising field and in 1988, he shot a mail to the top five advertising agencies in quest for a position in client servicing.
In no time, he was shortlisted by the fourth largest advertising firm, Everest Advertising!
Apparently, Everest turned out to be a blessing-in-disguise for him because this was the place where he met his wife Rubita and at the same time he also for the first time got hands on experience on selling spirits from the first ever account that he handled- Herbertsons (makers of Bagpiper whisky and now a part of the United Breweries Group).
Three years later; after much hard work he got the desired lime-light and moved to the then recently happened joint venture between UB group and United Distillers in 1991 as a group product manager and successfully launched a range of scotch whiskies in India – Black Dog, Black & White, Vat 69, Johnnie Walker portfolio. The success of these spirits also got Pradeep a lot of recognition and acclaim.
Just when nature felt that he was ready, another opportunity presented itself in 1997 and he was appointed as the Vice President for Sales & Marketing in Foster’s India Pvt. Ltd. He went on to help Fosters for a good 8 years with a gap of 2 years during which he took a brief exit to help out Moet Hennessy Asia, LVMH as a Managing Director.
After which he rejoined as a Managing Director with Foster’s and took up the most challenging job so far. He was given the most intricate task of launching Foster’s beer in India. While working on the launch in Mumbai; he decided to do so during the rainy season. To which, he got the coldest responses and in general was told that it was a bad idea.
Well, not only did Pradeep successfully launch the brand but under his guidance and near-to-perfect stratagem, Foster’s turned out to be the most successful beer in India and one of the leading markets for Foster’s. And without any guesses, sustained its superiority in India as well as Asia!
TRIVIA: Not many are aware that, Foster’s had partnered with Formula One Racing and Pradeep was one of the drivers to successfully bring Formula One to India.
This relationship finally came to an end in 2006, when Pradeep joined Red Bull Asia as their new Managing Director for a year and then finally took his last job as an employee in Carlsberg.
While preparing the market for Red Bull at Carlsberg, Pradeep came across many criticizers who said that it tasted like cough syrup and would not be successful but Pradeep somehow just loves proving people wrong and so he did, when he swiftly made it the most hip drink!.
Now was Carlsberg’s turn to become successful and learn something from the beer man himself. Within a span of 2.5 years, Pradeep revolutionized the company and its business. He developed a vision, strategy and successfully built Carlsberg as one of India’s most popular brand by launching Carlsberg, Tuborg and Palone.
And with this, in 2010 ended Pradeep’s journey as an employee gave a new beginning to an entrepreneurial journey!
In the year 2010, Pradeep conceptualized the idea of a café-like setup for beer. He strongly felt that India was ready for it and that this could be the much desired revolution in the beer market. So without further ado, Pradeep with his wisdom, out-of-the-box techniques & a collective investment of 1 crore; cofounded India’s first ‘The Beer Café’ along with his partner, 43-year-old Rahul Singh – former Executive Director (Apparel) at sportswear retailer Reebok India, in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj.
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Due to Pradeep’s unusual marketing techniques, beer café went on to become New Delhi’s one of the most hyped joint.
The uniqueness of this café was that it served 50 varieties of beer from 17 countries along with Indian and Italian cuisine on the side. And to top that; they had special RFID (radio frequency identification)-activated PYOB (Pour Your Own Beer) cards, draught beer taps and beer tanks installed in their outlets. With this technology, all one needed to do is that pick a pre-cooled beer mug and use the card to pay for it and the charges will only be “Amount of beer poured – Froth”
Now just when the brand began to gain immense popularity, the duo decided to break the knot and go separate ways. It was rumored that the partners developed differences and ultimately decided to part ways, after which the brand was bought by Rahul.
Later the actual reason for their differences was reported on business today that “Pradeep is passionate about beer,” says Singh. “But I’m a focused businessman. This is just a business for me.” A major difference arose over how the chain should expand – Gidwani wanted to open in all major Indian cities, while Singh insisted on concentrating on North India.
Establishment of “The Pint Room”
Now as much as the split was a setback, it did bring an opportunity for Pradeep as well. Due to the split; Pradeep got the opportunity to start all over again, covering all the possible mistakes they had done in the first place. Hence; after roughly six months of rigorous ground work, planning & strategizing, in 2012 he founded “The Pint Room!”
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The concept of The Pint Room was pretty simple! Firstly, it was not a bar with loud music and dim lights. It was not a replica but exactly a coffee shop! The only variation was that the coffee was switched with beer! And as mentioned by the man himself; “THE PINT ROOM is a place to Meet People & Make Friends, over a fine range of ales and lagers from across the world. Cheerful & brightly lit The Pint Room is a relaxed place where conversations are key.”
Just like always; while launching The Pint Room Pradeep received immense criticism but again like always, he with a team of 40 members, which were smartly flipped from a mixed background of hospitality, alcho-bev and BPO industry; swirled his magic wand and turned the problems into solutions.
And now after approximately three years, The Pint Room has 9 outlets across 6 cities pan India.
Although, Pradeep is docile about disclosing his sales or revenues but Rahul on the other hand claims that The Beer Café had made a turnover of around INR 5 crores in the Fiscal Year 2012-13 with a rough profit margin of 20%.
Lastly on an end note we would like to state; a very wise man once said that “it is not important what you are today, but what you become tomorrow!” and Pradeep is the perfect example which best justifies that point and is an inspiration for many. He is amongst those unknown faces which have achieved tremendous success in life but prefer to stay humble and rather let their work speak for them!
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