In an emotional outpouring, TinyOwl’s co-founder Harshvardhan Mandad, today spoke about the difficult steps the food-tech startup had to take and might take towards achieving the “big dream”. Mandad was referring to the recent restructuring Tiny Owl took by laying off over 160 employees across Pune and Bangalore followed by the one it takes today by laying off another 112 employees from sales and human resources teams at Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune.
He started off by outlining their growth story from being a five member startup to being one of the youngest food tech companies as follows-
No dream, however big, is unattainable – and TinyOwl is a testimony of the same belief. From being a five member startup to being one of the youngest and leading players in India’s food ordering space today, TinyOwl has grown immensely in the past year. The big dream to take the brand to greater heights yet remains, as our efforts continue to be focused on strengthening the brand’s position in the market. But as it’s said, no great achievement or success comes without its set of obstacles, and unfortunately, we are no exception.
He moved on to explain how TinyOwl has had its share of hits and misses during its journey-
Every business goes through its own unique journey, with some hits and definitely some misses. We have had our share too. But the important aspect is to learn from your journey along the way and continue to do what is best for the brand. Keeping this in perspective, while we continue to establish our foothold in the market with great customer feedback, the current strategic focus for us as a company is to now attain a viable business model working towards the ‘big dream’.
It’s here that Harsh clearly states on what TinyOwl’s focus is going to be-to attain a sustainable business model. Is this statement a subtle allusion to the fact that despite raking in funding of $3 Mn from Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners in December, 2014, followed by INR 100 Cr. in Series B funding round from Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, and the latest round of $7.6 Mn (INR 50 Cr) from existing investors Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners, the startup is still trying to figure out a more sustainable business model? Is this a problem with just TinyOwl or it points to a deeper malaise in the food-tech startup ecosystem where the rate of cash burn is lesser than the rate of acquisition of newer customers?
Referring to the restructuring, Mandad says it was difficult, but was necessary to increase efficiency and productivity-
“As part of this process, we have restructured the organisation to increase the organisation’s efficiency and productivity, involving eliminations of certain positions from the company. It indeed was a very difficult step for us. But I believe some difficult steps need to be taken for the best interests of the company and to stay true to its vision in the longer run. As part of our efforts towards refurbishing the brand in the current scenario, our focus is to optimise our current resources and move towards a better ecosystem of business management, with a strong and robust backend. This development, however unfortunate, is a step towards sustainability and growth.”