Bira 91, After Successful Outing at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Fest, All Set to Enter Hyper-Competitive NYC Market
WHEN Ankur Jain, now synonymous with Bira 91, attended the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival, a Robert DeNiro-Jane Rosenthal enterprise, in New York City in 2002, little could he have imagined that he would go on to create a brew that would one day be the official beer partner of this landmark cultural event. And the beer, whose sales are growing at 20 per cent month on month in seven cities across India, is all set to storm the New York market in May.
A serial entrepreneur who had moved into NYC not long after 9/11 (the film festival was an initiative rolled out in 2002 to revive Lower Manhattan economically after the catastrophic event), Ankur, a Computer Science graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, had then just launched a healthcare revenue management start-up.
A fortnight ago, when the festival lifted the curtains on its 15th-anniversary year, Bira 91 beat the big boys in the business to win Official Beer Partner status. And it will enjoy its exclusive status next year as well, and there’s a possibility of the partnership being extended by another three years. “When I met Ankur and he introduced me to Bira 91, we knew it was the right fit for our beer sponsor,” said Andrew Essex, CEO, Tribeca Enterprises. “Like our festival, Bira 91 is ground-breaking, modern, creative and above all, fun.”
Looking back at the association, Ankur said Bira 91 was poured at 70 after parties and was reigning at the world premiere of the Jeremy Irons-Dev Patel film, The Man Who Knew Infinity, based on the brilliant yet tragically short life of the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. “We were there everywhere,” Ankur remarked about Bira 91’s presence at the festival he has visited “eight to ten times”.
Armed with an infusion of funds from the Silicon Valley-based Sequoia Capital, which has been a big reason for Bira 91’s US entry, Ankur is all set to “build an Indian brand with an international footprint”. He has tied up with a brewery in Indore to locally produce Bira 91 “by May-end or early June” and also launch a 500ml can, besides getting the country’s largest production facility for draught beer off the starting line.
“The company now has a 30 per cent share in the on-premise premium beer segment in its active markets and has doubled in revenue each quarter so far,” said a Bira 91 media release. The brand’s growth has earned its founder-CEO an inclusion in Fortune India‘s ’40 Under 40’ list in February 2016.
Bira 91 today is available in seven cities across India. Selling close to 50,000 cases a month, the beer, Ankur informed us, is growing at 20 per cent month on month. At this rate, he said, we will touch 80,000 cases a month by July. That seems like a distinct possibility in a market that can’t seem to stop loving Bira 91.