COMING UP FAST: Karan Bilimoria, Cobra Beers

COMING UP FAST: Karan Bilimoria, Cobra Beers - DECISIONS

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


MY BEST ... The idea of Cobra beer, like many of the best business ideas, was born out of consumer frustration. When I came from India to Britain as a student, I found most lagers to be harsh and gassy. I love all food, especially Indian food, and would go to Indian restaurants every week. But I'd be presented with these awful lagers that don't go with hot spicy food. They bloat you up so you don't eat as much. I wanted to produce a lager from India that was less gassy and extra-smooth. I wanted to brew the finest ever Indian beer and to make it a world brand. That was in 1989. Today, Cobra has turnover of pounds 50 million a year at retail value and we have offices around the world.

MY WORST ... My business partner and I decided on the name of Panther. We did all the artwork for the Panther brand and I took it to India. At that point, one of our distributors decided to do some consumer testing. While in India, I got a frantic call from my partner saying that Panther wasn't going down well with consumers. We switched to our second choice, Cobra. The consumer response was great. It taught me that you've got to test your ideas with consumers and listen to what they say. Never make a decision without checking with the consumer. Panther wasn't a very expensive mistake, but it could have been.

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