Lisa Srao was born and raised in UK and lived in Richmond, London. Before moving to India, she worked in the media industry in UK, working with the top media companies including Viacom, Vivendi Universal, News Corporation etc.
Lisa met her husband and moved to India following her marriage in 2003 and started a family. However, she had always envisaged starting an entrepreneurial venture of her own.
Lisa had always envisaged starting an entrepreneurial venture of her own… It so happened that she met her husband and moved to India following her marriage in 2003 and started a family, and, when she could find some free time away from them, she decided to set up a business of her own.
Lisa felt the distinct lack of International quality products both in terms of accessibility and variety, when she first started living in India. She noticed that products in the price sensitive bracket, at that point of time, were of lower quality and good quality products were extremely expensive. She also noticed that the mass market premium segment of India’s 35 billion dollar liquor industry was under-utilized. It is the third largest market in volume after China and Russia and Lisa noticed immense opportunities to explore. With the thought of bridging this gap with international quality products catering to the value segment, and flanked by her entrepreneurial spirit, she launched I Brands Beverages in 2008.
After extensive R&D over 2 years, Lisa realized that she could not bring in products from abroad like she had envisaged before (her father was in the business of liquor distribution in the UK), but to be truly price competitive she must manufacture in India itself.
The tastes in India greatly vary from state to state and from that of abroad, and it was important to create an Asian specific brand at that price segment. She researched the blend, packaging and segment very carefully before launching and I Brands Beverages commenced India operations in August 2010 with the launch of Granton Whisky, the flagship product.
Lisa is known for her sharp business acumen and out-of-the- box approach and this has been pivotal in her steering I Brands Beverages towards sustainability and a sharp growth curve in an industry known for new entrants shutting shop within six months of business operation. She also is ‘The only woman’ in India who has built a spirits company from scratch and in a relatively short period of time.
Lisa has a world class vision, given her exposure to the International markets and she is able to propagate a culture in a company that is steeped in delivering higher than customer expectations with a great focus on the people involved in achieving it. Lisa strongly feels that to be the best in the industry, one must value their team and constantly innovate, innovate, innovate.
Today I Brands Beverages is an award winning company and one of the fastest growing liquor startup companies in India. They have four fantastic products in their portfolio – a premium whisky brand – Three Royals, a deluxe whisky brand – Granton Whisky, which has recently been awarded for its packaging, a Jamaican flavored dark rum – Rum 99 and a French brandy – Granton XO Brandy.
I Brands took a slow and steady approach, under Lisa’s leadership, following a semi urban-village route in distribution, developing a solid base foundation in the states that the company are present in, before opening up other states. She also perfected the blend of products along the way.
In their fourth year of operation, I Brands Beverages has opened up retail presence in over 5000 outlets across 10 states in the country and have won their first paramilitary orders, which is an achievement as well. By April 2015, the company would be launching in 6 more states in the country and aims for a pan India presence in the next couple of years. The company is also looking at opening up international markets, South East Asia being the first. I Brands has also joined hands with Colonel Mohinder Singh Khaira, a renowned property developer and a HNI from Bangalore, who is the chief investor in the company, to take it to the next level.
Under Lisa’s management, I Brands has won four national awards both in the industry specific and non-industry specific category. Lisa was also awarded the Woman Entrepreneur of the year at the IndSpirit 2015 Awards earlier this year, one of the most prestigious liquor industry awards in India. The awards and the retail and trade acceptance convey Lisa’s penchant for product innovation and consumerism and is a testimony to the hard work and dedication she has have put in to take the company to where it is today.
Having entered a very male dominated, monopolistic and cut throat industry, Lisa believes she was born to be in this business. She loves the challenge of being the only woman having created a spirits business from scratch. Even though this industry was something that she had not always intended to get into, it is something she feels she thrives in today.
She is inspired by Steve Jobs and truly believes in something he said. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.