Backed by Suniel Shetty, WAAYU is a no-commission food delivery platform that intends to end the dominance of Swiggy and Zomato in the food delivery space
According to the startup, with their zero-commission playbook, they encourage restaurants to operate on competitive pricing and pass on benefits to their customers
The startup has partnered with the likes of Grab and Dunzo for delivery and is looking to integrate with ONDC soon
The duopoly of Zomato and Swiggy in India’s food delivery segment has remained unchallenged for years, as the two startups hold a massive chunk of the market.
Recently, we have seen a few usurpers to the throne, including the likes of the government’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) and Thrive, among others.
The latest challenger in the segment is WAAYU, a no-commission food delivery platform, which was launched on Monday (May 8), amid much fanfare. The idea behind this new platform is to end the dominance of Swiggy and Zomato and free restaurants from the high commissions these platforms charge.
Backed by Bollywood actor and investor Suniel Shetty and the Mumbai-based Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR), WAAYU was founded by Anirudha Kotgire and Mandar Lande in late 2022.
Its alliance with AHAR has helped the platform save a lot of money in acquiring customers. Notably, the founders plan to pass on these savings to their customers to boost retention.
“The tie-up with the association is helping them acquire thousands of restaurants and millions of customers,” Shetty said at the launch event on Monday.
With a total of 25,000 downloads, WAAYU claims to have onboarded 1,500 Mumbai-based restaurants on its app so far.
The New Swiggy-Zomato Bully On The Block
Just like Swiggy and Zomato, WAAYU is a food delivery app that helps restaurants manage their online orders. However, the major differentiator is that it plays the role of an aggregator sans back-breaking commissions per order, in the presence of which many restaurants are forced to operate on razor-thin margins.
According to the company, with its zero-commission playbook, it encourages restaurants to operate on competitive pricing and pass on benefits to their customers.
“With WAAYU, restaurants will start offering their own schemes. Further, they will be able to add value to their products, which would make a huge difference,” said Shetty.
Talking about how the platform makes money, one of the cofounders Anirudha Kotgire said, “We have 16 revenue streams, but not all will kick in from the beginning. We will have a fixed fee deal with the restaurants at an introductory price of INR 1,000 per month per outlet. Later, it will be increased to INR 2,000 a month.”
Kotgire added that there was a one-time onboarding set-up fee of INR 3,650.
While WAAYU’s cofounders said they would be allowing restaurants a choice between Grab, Dunzo or the restaurant’s in-house delivery personnel, they did not clarify who would incur the delivery cost.
Given that a restaurant would pay around INR 2,000 per month to use WAAYU’s platform, it is highly likely that restaurants could end up bearing delivery charges.
The platform has also developed a dedicated app for delivery personnel, enabling restaurants to manage their delivery fleets.
WAAYU would also offer restaurant orders flexibility and control over online ordering, with instant payments via the UPI network. With this strategy, the platform’s founders want to counter Zomato and Swiggy, which have longer payment cycles and impact restaurants’ cash flow.
WAAYU’s Pan-India Plans
The cofounders said that they plan to expand to other cities soon.
“Our plan is to add additional 10,000-plus restaurants in Mumbai, Pune and the suburbs in the next three months, and then expand WAAYU to both metro and non-metro cities across India,” Lande said.
WAAYU will also integrate with ONDC. Given that ONDC, too, is positioning itself as one of the incumbents in India’s food delivery market, it would be interesting to see how WAAYU works in tandem with the network.
Interestingly, even Thrive can emerge as WAAYU’s potential rival in the space, as the Coca-Cola-backed food delivery startup is also hell-bent on ending the dominance of Swiggy and Zomato with a lower commission and a more agile, restaurant-friendly business model.
Whatever may be the case, it would be interesting to see how WAAYU measures against the might of Swiggy and Zomato in the days to come in India’s $5.3 Bn food delivery industry.
Coincidentally, both Swiggy and Zomato had a bad start to the week. This is because while Swiggy saw its valuation cut to $5.5 Bn by one of its major investors, Invesco, Zomato ended its two-week-long bull run on the BSE after falling 7% intraday on Tuesday (May 9).