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Countertop partners with Small Batch Learning to boost Indian hospitality with free training
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By Dan Bignold
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Jun 16th, 2021
Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran are aiming to improve the skills baseline for Indian hotel, bar restaurant and retail teams with support from Small Batch Learning.

The founders of Countertop India, a consultancy that helps alcohol brands and hospitality groups build market success in India, have today announced a strategic partnership with Small Batch Learning, the free online training platform for hospitality and retail.

As part of the partnership, Countertop will become a content partner for Small Batch Learning in India, and use Small Batch Learning’s technology to deliver job-optimised skills and product training to hospitality teams across the country.

Founded by Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran, two of Indian bartending’s most recognized personalities, Countertop is aimed at delivering sustained growth for alcohol and hospitality brands in the Indian market.

The duo has already provided many years of face-to-face service training for bars, restaurants and hotels across India, including through Pankaj’s role as brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder and Arijit’s previous roles with Bacardi and Monkey 47.

“Raising the baseline and bringing hospitality skills up to match the rest of Asia is very much our mission of the moment”

Through the partnership, Countertop will offer its hospitality clients online access to specific training packages, including signature and classic recipes, drink-making tutorials and service know-how.

“We looked at the online training landscape for bartenders and could see that Small Batch Learning, with its different training programs aimed at different experience levels, would work best in India,” said Bose. “Raising the baseline and bringing hospitality skills up to match the rest of Asia is very much our mission of the moment.”

“At the same time, while brands and other training providers have always focused on bartenders with their activities and content, we have always felt that successful bars run better because floor staff and other departments coordinate to make it so,” he continued.

“Floor personnel, in fact, sell 75% of a bar’s drinks, and Small Batch Learning’s training system recognises the importance of these other staff, while also being easy to deploy in the market – by being free. Even kitchen or admin staff can get up to speed with the bar business by training on the platform.”

"We believe in the same mission: that professional education is a right, not a privilege"

Small Batch Learning’s digital capability will back up Countertop’s team of respected and experienced bartenders and f&b professionals, already stationed in different parts of India and ready to be deployed for fast, on-the-ground training and client support.

“India was already one of our fastest growing markets for e-learning,” said Adam Leibrandt, founder and CEO of Small Batch Learning. “But since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the hospitality industry, we saw an unexpected spike in new learner growth and our training minutes have continued to grow exponentially.

Pankaj Balachandran (left), Arijit Bose (right)

“However, we understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to training, and so in the wake of this growth – and because of India’s own dynamic economy – we realised it was time to invest resources in the region, including the creation of new content.

“This partnership was therefore a natural development, and Countertop was a natural partner. Not only are they two of the best hospitality trainers in the country, but Arijit is someone I’ve known for years, from his time bartending at 28 Hongkong Street in Singapore. Of course, you don’t form partnerships just because of friendship – but because we believe in the same mission: that professional education is a right, not a privilege; and that if you give hospitality staff world-class training, they will work at world-class levels.”

To access Countertop’s training, and the Small Batch Learning training library, please visit countertop.smallbatchlearning.com, and follow the sign-up instructions. Existing Small Batch Learning users can click on their account photo then “Join an account” and enter the code “countertop”.

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