Popular American talk show host Oprah Winfrey once said that “the greatest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” The quote suits Karan Nohria who, since his teenage years, dreamed of opening a restaurant where people would feel comfortable being themselves.
“Each of us has a silly side, but we hide it however when we go somewhere fancy for dinner. I wanted to open a place where people could be who they are and not worry about dressing up or anything. either. That’s what inspired me to create Silly – an easy-going, hassle-free space,” Karan said. SMBStory.
Karan, 21, started Silly in March 2021 in the Khar domain of Bombay. He says that despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the place is running well.
“We were able to recoup 45% of our investment and expect to break even within the next six to eight months,” Karan says, adding that the next plan is to expand beyond Mumbai.
Silly has witnessed customer attendance despite the restrictions, a success which Karan attributes to the business adhering to all standards and controls in place without compromising customer offerings.
Make the most of everything
Right after finishing his studies, Karan helped his parents in their businesses. He says having hands-on experience running a business has helped him transition into entrepreneurship.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant, but I had no experience in the industry, but I learned business management skills from my parents and close family friends who run different businesses. I sat with them and learned practical lessons that are far more valuable than any theory,” he added.
His practical lessons have been his company’s survival mantra amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Silly is a pandemic baby,” Karan says, adding that he started working in April 2021 just before the second wave lockdown and opened the restaurant in June when restrictions were eased. But he ensured the safety of customers and staff above all else.
During the Christmas Holidays of 2021, Karan came up with the concept of organizing Secret Santa where Karan became the Elf and Silly the Secret Santa for more than 15,000 of his customers to fulfill their wishes of learning different cuisines in 92 days, i.e. end of March 2022.
Silly is a start-up business, says Karan, where he invested about Rs 6.5 crore with the help of his mother. Karan says he was able to recoup 45% of the investment and expects to break even within the next six to eight months.
“Becoming a profitable business may take a bit longer as the third wave has taken hold and we have put our expansion plans on hold for a short time. Although work in Delhi is about to start, we don’t commit to anything as the government may come up with new restrictions or whatever now.”
Speaking of challenges and competition, Karan says the biggest challenge is the COVID-19 threat where keeping customers and staff safe is a priority while running the business effectively. From a competition point of view, Karan seems very clear and says that every restaurant or cafe has something different to offer, so competing with anyone doesn’t yield better results.
Karan says he plans to open Silly in South Delhi but did not specify the location. Over the next few years, he wants to take Silly to Hyderabad and from there all over India.
Karan also plans to offer pet daycare services, a project he says is still in the ideation phase.