Interview: Vikas Suri, Founder & CEO of Popcorn and Company

Vikas Suri, Founder & CEO of Popcorn and Company

An interview with Vikas Suri, Founder & CEO of Popcorn and Company, a gourmet popcorn brand

Join us for an insightful interview with Vikas Suri, the visionary Founder & CEO of Popcorn and Company, a gourmet popcorn brand that has captured the hearts and taste buds of snack enthusiasts worldwide.

With a keen eye for innovation and a passion for quality, Vikas has transformed Popcorn and Company into a household name synonymous with delicious, artisanal popcorn flavors and unforgettable snacking experiences.

Firstly, congratulations on securing such a significant investment from Ms. Namita Thapar! Can you tell us more about the journey of securing the investment and your experience of pitching on Shark Tank 3?

Vikas Suri: It all started with a last-minute notice that we had to pitch our idea on Shark Tank 3. Our preparation for Shark Tank was minimal due to the short notice and my being in the US just a few days before the shoot in Mumbai.

I coordinated with my team to prepare samples and visual merchandising, which were shipped to Mumbai in my absence. Once I returned from the States, I reviewed their preparations before flying down to Mumbai.

My approach was simple and effective because it was based on a deep understanding of my product and business, emphasizing the importance of being well-versed in your business fundamentals. Overall, the journey of getting investment and pitching on Shark Tank 3 was exciting as well as challenging.

Mr. Suri, could you share with us the story behind the inception of Popcorn and Company? What inspired you to start this gourmet popcorn brand?

Vikas Suri: Since we were the suppliers of popcorn kernels and seasoning to cinemas, we always used to keep sitting on exact stock. So, we thought we’d utilize that by creating a concept that really has a gourmet international taste and style of popcorn.

We had two verticals. One was, of course, gourmet popcorn stores where we make fresh popcorn and serve it over the counter. These are over the counter fresh popcorn which are ready-to-eat and distributed through marketplaces and select modern trade outlets.

Additionally, we also offer a ready-to-cook option, providing premium kernels and seasonings to customers who can prepare them at home with their choice of healthy oils, contrasting the typical palm or chemically infused oils found in market products.

The title “The Popcorn Man of India” suggests a unique journey. Could you elaborate on how you earned this title and what it means to you personally?

Vikas Suri: I have been really working very, very focused and strictly with the industry. I have been purely focusing and concentrating on popcorns to build it into a big business. And that’s precisely what has been done in the past 30 years.

My focus, as you’ve been seeing, has been on developing the industry by getting the best in the industry practices to the users and consumers – both in terms of equipment, seasoning, and kernels. And I’m very happy that we’ve been able to achieve that.

Also, the name The Popcorn Man of India has been able to build a lot of excitement among consumers. It only suggests that I’ve made a significant impact in the popcorn industry and thus I have been recognized for a contribution. It feels fulfilling to know that something I am passionate about made a difference.

In a market with various snack options, what strategies did you employ to differentiate Popcorn and Company and carve out a niche for gourmet popcorn in India?

Vikas Suri: Well, yes, it’s a very, very crowded market when it comes to the snacking industry. But again, if you look at it, there are very specific people who look for tasty anytime, anywhere snacks and specific to popcorn. So, what we did was just focus on building the brand.

I am a firm believer in focusing on a particular product category. And all these three years I’ve just been working on popcorn and nothing beyond that. And I’ve focused on popcorn; experimented, tried, tested, and got some feedback from people. The idea was plain and simple to offer the best quality product with the highest quality of ingredients to our consumers.

Ms. Namita Thapar is a prominent figure in the business world. What led you to choose her as an investor, and what do you think she brings to the table in terms of expertise and strategic guidance?

Vikas Suri: Well, we did not choose her, she was the one who chose us to invest in us. She believed in a brand and the product. She believed in her quality. And what she brings to the table is her years of experience in the business and how to run it, how to manage it and scale it.

She is very good at it. And thus, we look forward to her expertise in this area to scale it up. Though we are champions in B2B, B2C is new to us. And so, we are looking forward to Namita Ma’am’s guidance and expert ideas to scale our B2C business.

With this infusion of capital, what specific areas of the business do you plan to focus on expanding or improving?

Vikas Suri: Well, with the investments coming in, of course, we will be focusing and continuing to focus on our existing product lines to scale it up. We will push it more in the market and we are looking at one to two more new products to be launched very shortly.

So yes, more SKU, but definitely focusing on what we have because that already has a market acceptance, which we will be building upon.

Shark Tank is known for its intense scrutiny and tough questioning. What were some of the most challenging questions you faced during your pitch, and how did you address them?

Vikas Suri: Well, yes there were challenging questions. However, when you’re actually handling your business yourself, you do not have a tough time answering any kind of question. And that’s what happened. I knew most of the answers precisely, in fact I knew all the answers.

The only thing that I think I could not handle well was all these sharks were shooting their questions at the same time. And I did not know who to respond to, when to respond, and how to handle, because they were just shooting one, two, three. So it was like rapid fire coming onto me.

But, I think I managed well. We answered most of them diligently. So, yeah, I mean, besides this, there was nothing which was tough for me.

With the rise of health-conscious consumers, how does Popcorn and Company address the demand for healthier snack options while still providing flavorful and indulgent products?

Vikas Suri: Well, if you’re looking to eat healthy popcorn, then you need to buy our DIY movie night kits. You make your popcorn your own way. You could use our good-quality kernels. You could use the kind of oil you want – either use olive oil or coconut oil.

Or better still microwave it the way you want to. Our product is more to do with convenience and tasty snacking when it comes to ready-to-eat products and anytime, anywhere snacking,   But yes, we have our DIY movie night kit as a healthy option.

What exciting developments or plans does Popcorn and Company have in store? Are there any new flavors, products, or initiatives that consumers can look forward to?

Vikas Suri: Well, as I said the newer products are on their way, but we will continue to focus on the existing flavors while we are doing R & D on some of the new ones. Also we are working on new packaging which will be more pocket-friendly and environment-friendly.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Vikas Suri: My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to focus on finding the right match between your product and what the customers want. Make sure your product not only sells well but also makes good profits.

When you’re pitching your idea, whether it’s on Shark Tank or to any other investors, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of your numbers and facts.

Vikas Suri’s entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering commitment to excellence have propelled Popcorn and Company to the forefront of the gourmet snack industry. With a focus on creativity, flavor, and customer satisfaction, Vikas continues to lead his company towards a future filled with continued success and widespread acclaim, delighting popcorn lovers everywhere with each irresistible bite.

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