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Rajesh Sawhney’s InnerChef Goes IoT With HungerTap: Exclusive Interview & Insights

Rajesh Sawhney’s InnerChef Goes IoT With HungerTap: Exclusive Interview & Insights

The growing number of food joints and the mind boggling amount of options, what to eat is a question which often puts a consumer in a tough spot. Keeping this in mind, Rajesh Sawhney, who launched a food tech startup, InnerChef, a few weeks back has announced the launch of HungerTap, an NFC enabled device for InnerChef customers.

HungerTap is an innovative IoT device which helps people in understanding what they should eat based on their eating habits.

How It Works

The HungerTap device looks a lot like a simple fridge magnet and can be stuck to a fridge or work desk. One can then use their phone’s in-built QR code scanner or NFC reader to scan the device. Based on customer’s past behaviour or orders, the device helps them provide new offers and food choices.

InnerChef plans to leverage the platform’s backed infrastructure and get a deep understanding of consumer behavior and preferences. The data collected with the use of this device will enable them to offer ultra personalized service.

hungertap

Rajesh Sawhney, co-founder of InnerChef, on launch of HungerTap says, “InnerChef is a big data food tech company. We will leverage technology be it mobile, IOT or big data to enrich the life of our consumer”

InnerChef is an online food discovery and delivery platform, with a mission to help everyone #EatBetter. It offers Ready-To-Cook recipe kits and Ready-To-Eat combo meals all over Gurgaon and South Delhi, with plans to expand further.

Its Ready-To-Cook products enable anyone to order delicious meal in 10-20 minutes. InnerChef is currently offering 20 Ready-To-Cook recipe kits and 10 Ready-To-Eat Combo meals. It plans to take this number to 30-40 options at any given time that will be refreshed on a weekly basis in a month’s time. Further, it also plans to add Oriental and Modern Indian cuisine in the coming weeks.

The startup also delivers fresh food twice a day i.e. Lunch (11 am till 2 pm) and Dinner (5 pm till 9 pm). For now, this service is only available in Gurgaon and South Delhi, and will be launching in Mumbai and Bangalore over Q3 this year. “Our hub and spoke model enables us to launch multiple kitchens in every city and plan for hyper local distribution and delivery,” said the company.

Rajesh has founded InnerChef along with Bal – the founder of DiGhent Cafe, Heena Karia Thakkar – a professional chef, Uday Bansal – founder of Skybulls, and Rahul Samat – ex-product manager at Barclay’s.

We caught up with Rajesh to know more about InnerChef and the idea behind launching HungerTap. Here are the edited excerpts:

Inc42: Your Motivation, Experience, Challenges in Starting Up Again & Building InnerChef?

Rajesh: I have new challenges every few years of my life. In InnerChef, we have a great team of 6 founders who are passionate about technology and great food.

Inc42: Why the food space? Isn’t the space starting to get quite crowded?

Rajesh: InnerChef addresses a huge opportunity in USD 300B market.

Food ordering is a high frequency business and lends itself to mobile app paradigm.

Indian market is underserved, there are massive pockets of opportunities.

Inc42: How many customers has InnerChef served so far? Please share data around the new and returning customers?

Rajesh: We started with Gurgaon kitchen in April. We launched our ready to eat combo offers in May. We have now started to service Delhi market. We are growing rapidly and plan to launch multiple kitchens in NCR, Bangalore and Mumbai within this year.

Inc42: Looking at the success of startups like Hellofresh and Blue Apron in the International market, do you think this particular space will see similar investor interest in India as well?

Rajesh: Definitely

Inc42: What do you think of the Indian food tech industry from an investor’s perspective?

Rajesh: This is an awesome opportunity….massive market, different players will cater to different segments. Technology will play a great role in consumer acquisition & engagement, delivery and logistics and finally kitchen and supply chain remodelling.

Inc42: Why did you see the need for HungerTap? What are its long term plans?

Rajesh: We want to be present at the point of consumption: in the kitchen and within arms reach of desire. We wish to engage deeply with our consumers  and give them ultra specific offers.

Inc42: IoT was hailed as the next big thing a couple of years back? However we are yet to see it go mainstream. Your views on this?

Rajesh: IOT has massive potential. It will create new unicorns. We ate just getting started.

According to Tracxn, in the food-tech space alone out of the 145 companies that operate in India, 66 were launched last year alone. The food industry in the country, which was largely dominated by Zomato & Foodpanda, has now started witnessing a new breed of startups – be it hyperlocal food delivery, restaurant or food discovery, food subscription, table booking, QSR chains and even social networks or platforms connecting foodies & chefs together, each and every segment has witnessed a number of startups and even funding activities.

Lets try and understand the food tech industry in India and how they are categorised:

Food startups can be broadly classified under following heads:

  1. Dine – Out: This includes restaurant discovery, Dish Discovery, Table booking, in-restaurant ordering, in restaurant payments
  2. Eat at home/office: These include startups that enable ordering, ordering and delivery
  3. Internet first: Subscription, On demand, late night delivery
  4. Cook at home: Recipe box, recipe aggregators etc.

InnerChef’s model falls under the the category of “Cook at Home” and competes with:

  1. YouJustCook: Founded in 2013, the startup is based out in Bangalore. It enables delivery of ingredients for cooking recipes.
  2. Halfteaspoon: Bangalore based startup delivers meal kits with measured ingredients for chef designed recipes.
  3. iChef: The Mumbai-based startup delivers chef-designed recipe boxes for healthy meals with calorie count of 500-700. The startup claims to add 6 new recipes every 2 week.s IChef was founded in 2014.
  4. Being Chef: This Gurgaon based startup lists recipes and dishes whose recipes can be ordered. The startup was launched in 2014.
  5. Formbelly: Another Gurgaon based startup, Formbelly lets one order meal kits for chef-designed recipes.  (To be launched)
  6. CookFresh: Delhi based Cookfresh enables delivery of Recipe boxes for gourmet meals with portioned and chopped ingredients.
  7. Chefkraft: Expert chefs curate exciting new casual dining and main course recipes every month. Ingredients with recipe is being delivered at the doorstep. The startup is based out in Bangalore and was founded in 2014.
  8. Cookboxes: Mohit Vijay, an IIT-Kharagpur founded Cookboxes earlier this year. The startup delivers ingredients of recipes created by its chefs. The startup is based out in Bangalore.
  9. Chefs Basket: Founded by Nipun Katyal alongwith his IIT Bombay batchmates, Chefs Basket offers Recipe Kits and Explorer kits which offers complete set of premium and authentic ingredients, to help one prepare dishes from across the globe.

Singapore-based Redmart which, apart from grocery, also offers meal kits, had launched operations in India last year. The startup also poses great competition to InnerChef and other startups in this particular space. (Redmart has raised over $28 Mn in funding so far)

Globally, startups that have managed that boast of big fundings under their kitty in the Ready to Cook Space include:

  1. Hellofresh: Based out in New York, the startup was launched in 2012 and had raised funding of about $62 Mn in total from investors including Rocket internet and Kinnevik.
  2. Blue Apron: Founded in 2012, Blue Apron, a New York based startup had raised over $193 Mn from BVP and others.
  3. Plated: Another New York City startup, Plated which was founded in 2012 has funding of about $21,4 Mn in its kitty.
  4. Gousto: London-based Gusto was founded in 2012 and has raised over $11 mn in funding so far.

The Indian food tech market is on the verge of seeing a big boom as internet and mobile penetration is growing rapidly and is yet to cover a vastly untapped market. As per market estimates, the food industry in India is a $50 Bn market and is growing at 16-20% year on year, with investors betting heavily in this segment.

Author

Pooja Sareen

Inc42 Staff

Editor and Co-founder @Inc42. Pooja keeps a close eye on ecommerce, agritech, government policies, and numbers are her soul food. She can be reached at [email protected]

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