The founder of India’s first cocktail community—The Cocktail Story—Vidhi Puri created a stir in the world of spirits in 2018. A young visionary, she built a platform for the bar fraternity and spirit enthusiasts in India, unlike anyone had ever seen before in this country. The community has a robust digital presence and the platform serves as the perfect launchpad to promote cocktail culture, profile bartenders, and highlight domestic and international brands that are making waves in the space. She shares her advice, recommendations and tips for entrepreneurs looking to venture into uncharted territory in the hospitality industry.
1. What’s your educational and professional background?
I did my English honours from Jesus & Mary College and MA in Gender studies.
2. What prompted you to start a cocktail community?
My love for alcohol, parties and bringing everyone together is what pushed me to start The Cocktail Story. The small idea of starting an IG page of only cocktails, made me realise no one speaks about bartenders in India. And thus, to bridge the gap between bartenders and consumers like me, I started TCS.
3. Did you always know you wanted to work in this space?
Not really! I never thought of it but was keen on the experiential for sure, as I love hosting people and throwing parties.
4. What was your first milestone at The Cocktail Story and how did you get there?
The Cocktail Story’s first big achievement would be when we became the Media Partners for Beluga Signature 2019, the first-ever cocktail competition by Beluga in India.
5. What are your tips for someone who wants to enter the hospitality space and create a niche vertical/category like The Cocktail Story?
Do it to support and uplift everyone and not just for your own self. When you’re building a community, it’s not just about your brand. You should try and create opportunities for those in your network to grow and benefit from your platform in a meaningful way.
6. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? What was the turning point?
I would say that 6 months into the launch was a turning point for TCS. I made sure I put myself and my brand out there. I invested in making a name and creating recognition for my brand and my work. The money just followed once people started recalling who we were and what we’re doing.
7. Which networking groups or events have helped you widen your network and generate collaboration opportunities?
I mostly got my networking and collaboration opportunities from our exclusive experiences. That has really helped us grow. We’ve done events of 50 people, and big occasions with over 150 people like New Year’s Eve parties.
8. Are there any online/offline courses you recommend for growth and career enhancement in this sector?
Even though I am not from the hospitality sector, I lead one of the biggest platforms in the space now. For me, it’s not been about the degree or course, it’s been about the passion and fearlessness to just go for it. But, if someone is interested in mixology (the art of making cocktails), then you can do courses from The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
9. Do you market online/offline?
We collaborate with brands and people both offline and online. We’ve found this model works best for us to not just talk about what we do, but show what we do (create an experience).
10. What’s a basic investment one can expect to make when trying to build a niche community?
The investment comes with time. In the beginning, bootstrapping is for real, and ideal. Put into your business a basic sum, and reinvent and refuel the business with your earnings. It’s the correct way to manage your cash flow in a niche market.