People

The Cake Effect

Ninglun Hanghal 09 Feb 2017

Tunnu Cakes & Bakes, the first branded bakery to come up in a little town in Manipur, is also a story of grit, determination and hope of two brothers.

NinglunHanghal

Lamka, a lovely town in Churachandpur district in Manipur, looks picture perfect with rolling hills, ample sunshine, wispy clouds and Swiss-inspired cottages. In what is otherwise a quiet, unassuming area of Lamka that’s reeling under the upcoming election fever, we find a buzz outside Tunnu Bakes & Cakes, a concept bakery that’s becoming the hot favourite of the locals. Inside the bakery, Paukhenkhup Guite, the young 34-year-old manager and proprietor is working swiftly to ensure that orders are met. Melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownies, soft and creamy cakes, scrumptious pastries, all of Tunnu Bakes & Cakes is wafting with the sweet smell of cooking cupcakes, crispy croissants, and the distinct aroma of freshly baked bread. The powerful and intoxicating smell is enough to send food aficionados into a tizzy but it’s the brilliant taste that sends us reeling.

The Cake EffectThe Cake Effect

What’s special about this bakery is that it is the first ever bakery supply chain in the district that has been set up by Guite and his brother in 2013. What’s also interesting is that Guite, who could have worked anywhere else in the world, decided to come back and set shop in Lamka. For the record, Guite did his post-graduation in Management at Robert Gordon University in Scotland. His younger brother Ensuanlal,completed a course in hotel management in New Delhi’s Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology and Diploma in Bakery and Confectionery. 

Tunnu Bakes & Cakes has 150 outlets in Lamka that caters to a population of over a lakh in the town and its vicinity. In essence, Tunnu Cakes & Bakes, the first branded bakery to come up in a little town in Manipur, is also a story of grit, determination and hope of two brothers.

Paukhenkhup Guite is the force behind Tunnu bakeryPaukhenkhup Guite is the force behind Tunnu bakeryGuite, in an exclusive interaction with NE Travel and Life, tells us about his bakery, why he opened it in Lamka with his brother and what the future holds for this entrepreneurial brother duo.

How did the idea of a bakery in Lamka evolve?
Somewhere around 2010, we had a family discussion wherein we thought of starting a new venture. Since my brother and I were armed with the right qualifications (in business management, hotel management, and a diploma in bakery and confectionery), we decided, as a family, to develop the dream project.

How did you decide on the name, ‘Tunnu’ for the bakery?
Our parents, especially my mother, motivated and gave us tremendous moral support. Unfortunately, my mother passed away before we could kick off our dream project. It was then that we decided to name our bakery, ‘Tunnu’, which in our dialect means mother.

You don’t have a background in bakery or business…
That’s right. My parents were government employees and we grew up in a middle-class setup. We are four children. My father was a lecturer in a college and my mother, a school teacher. We have no experience in business whatsoever and we didn’t have the required capital either. When I approached a bank for a loan, it was turned down. It was only then that I began looking for other avenues.

Then, in 2012, there was a conference by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd(NEDFi) in Imphal. NEDFi provides financial assistance to micro, small, medium and large enterprises for setting up industrial, infrastructure and agri-allied projects. I convinced the officials at the event of my project, got my loan and that’s how the story of Tunnu began. In 2013, we began with a small shop. I went to various key locations to plan out the next step for expansion for supply chain. Today, we get delivery orders from schools, church events, weddings and private functions and events.

What makes brand Tunnu’s cakes so special? Our idea is to deliver fresh products. My day begins as early as 3 am because by 6.30 am, we ensure distribution and supply to all our outlets. There’s never any compromise on quality.

Did you feel disheartened at any point in time?
I was always driven and determined and so was my brother. Even during the times when we couldn’t get loans, my brother and I were sure of making our dream come true.Even today there are some relatives who tell me to apply for a government job. I am, however, happy to do my own business and give growth opportunities to the locals in the area. I am responsible for a growing number of my staff, their families. It gives me tremendous satisfaction. I enjoy my work, what is even more satisfying is that you have an idea, you implement it and it works. My failures and successes are my own. I have even made sign boards for the outlets on my own!

How do you cope with the challenges in the business?
This is a challenging segment to be in because we are dealing with perishable items. There’s always need for huge capital investment and it is tough in a place like Manipur where we have bandhsand strikes. There are, what I call, ‘economic blockades’. Having said that, I don’t wish to raisethe pricesof my products. At the same time, my brother and I understand we cannot lower the quality of the product. We always have to consider our customers. As of now, we are not seeing any profit and what we earn is what we pump back into the business. In our case, since the business is in a relatively remote town, we are wholly depended for raw material and supply of products from other places. This makes our business even more challenging. 

What has brand Tunnu’s journey taught you?
People have the buying capacity – they are willing to buy pastries for Rs90, per piece and they can spend Rs5 for each cookie. Somewhere, Tunnu is a reflection of the strong attitude of Lamka’s people. It is through Tunnu that I realised that our society is getting aspirational as it evolves and progresses and responds to new ideas and ventures.

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