New-age robotics and AI bolster GOPIZZA’s aggressive expansion in India
The Korean pizza brand recently raised more than $24m to fund this expansion.
South Korean pizza brand GOPIZZA is planning to challenge India’s pizza market by building 100 stores in the country by the end of 2023.
This dream is fueled by fresh funding from a series C funding round co-led by GS Ventures, CJ Investment, Mirae Asset Securities, NCORE Ventures, Woori Bank, Capstone Partners, Big Basin Capital and DS Asset Management concluded in November last year.
In an interview with QSR Media, Mahesh Reddy, CEO of GOPIZZA India said that this year they plan on going aggressive with their expansion plans and will be leveraging new-age robotics and AI technology to capture the market.
From South Korea to India
GOPIZZA is a brand that started in 2016 by 27-year-old Jae Won (Jay) Lim, who started the first outlet in a food truck.
His concept was to provide tasty, one-person-sized pizzas, building on the premise that pizzas could be inexpensive and yet remain fulfilling when eaten in this form. After gaining popularity, Jay established the first GOPIZZA restaurant in South Korea in 2017.
After seeing explosive growth, GOPIZZA currently has over 200 stores in five countries.
In 2019, GOPIZZA opened its first store in India. It then proceeded to expand to 20, with its revenues seeing a steady increase.
“During the pandemic, GOPIZZA was able to utilize that time to streamline its operations and localization strategy. After the pandemic started to ease out from June 2022, GOPIZZA began growing more than 20% every month,” Mahesh said.
In India, Domino’s dominate most of the pizza market with more than 1,500 stores in the country. GOPIZZA aims to take a slice of the market by riding the K-wave or the South Korean craze.
“[We] are confident that it would find success in India credited to the K-trend since being a Korean brand provides a lot of attention and affection from customers in India. With the core USP (unique selling point) being universal functionalities such as price competitiveness, quick serving speed, and personal-sized pizzas, GOPIZZA still tries to infuse some Korean kicks into our brand in terms of menu offerings and marketing, activities. There are also some K-pizzas in the Indian market that were launched in 2022, attributed to the booming Korean wave in the country,” ” Mahesh explained.
According to Mahesh, most of the differences majorly lie amongst operations and GOPIZZA has adapted its menu to the Indian audience whilst sharing various Korean options
New-age robotics and AI
One unique aspect of GOPIZZA is it is a food tech startup that leverages new-age robotics and AI technology.
For example, GOPIZZA has a patent on a unique oven called GOVEN, which bakes six single-serving pizzas in just three minutes enabling employees to spend time on less tedious
work. Meanwhile, the cooperative robot - GOBOT - cuts pizza, sprinkles the proper sauce and ensures it doesn’t cool down this is then helped by GOPIZZA’s AI Smart Topping Table that tracks and monitors the toppings on a pizza. These technologies allow the chain to remain consistent with the consistency and quality of food and service.
“More than 30% of GOPIZZA’s HQ personnel specialize in R&D of many different technologies being developed. GOPIZZA has a Future Lab for AI and robots, a GOPIZZA Parbake Innovation Center for dough R&D and production, and a GOPIZZA GOVEN Tech for GOVEN R&D and production. At every GOPIZZA outlet, every step of ‘pizza making’ is redesigned to enable a one-manned operation in a small-sized kitchen,” Mahesh said.
From the current 20, GOPIZZA plans to grow its outlet in India to 100 by the end of 2023.
“GOPIZZA is looking to tap into the cities of Pune, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and other key Tier 2 cities: Chandigarh, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Kochi, in the next few years. In the next two years, GOPIZZA would like to open a total of 50 new outlets in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,” Mahesh said.
GOPIZZA is also eyeing markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Including India, these markets are worth at least $50b,” Mahesh said.