With the pandemic delivering a knock-out punch to the restaurant industry, innovations for a different touch and feel seems to be the lone way forward. While the takeaways aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, the market now seems to be looking for something which offers space for startups.
With the spike in demand for fresh solutions, two friends from IIT Kharagpur, Pritam Khan and Mainak Sarkar launched Eatable with an idea to infuse no or minimal contact in making food safe in times of the pandemic. Founded in 2019, the SaaS-enabled marketplace was a part of Y Combinator’s first all virtual Summer Batch of 2020, along with 13 other startups.
Eatable enables customers to order ahead for their takeaways or dine-in. The platform also lets customers scroll through digital menus of partner restaurants and place an order even before the pick up. It offers an alternative source of cash flow for restaurants that are heavily dependent on Zomato and Swiggy for online orders.
Eatable also attracted an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Indian and Silicon Valley-based angel investors, including Solutions Infini’s CEO and founder Aniketh Jain, OkCredit’s cofounder and CEO Harsh Pokharna, Skillenza’s cofounder and CEO Subhendu Panigrahi, and few senior executives from Innovaccer. Y Combinator also participated in the round.
Eatable Claims To Be An Economical Choice For Restaurants
Typically, an aggregator charges up to 20-25% of order value as commission, depending on multiple factors like brand, exclusivity and consumer reach. This does not include the delivery commissions of up to 10%. The cost seems fine when the customers were juggling between both dine-in and online deliveries. But, at a time like this, when online orders are making most of the restaurants’ cash flow, it is way out of budget.
On the contrary, Eatable is partnering with customers at an onboarding fee of INR 10K annually and 5-10% commission per order based on the category and type of restaurant. The company has waved off the onboarding fee during the pandemic. Moreover, there is no delivery cost to bear and ensure that each order is covering the restaurant’s operational costs. The company also claims that ordering from Eatable is cheaper than the aggregators as the platform does not inflate the prices and keep the same prices as the offline store.
Unlike the aggregators, the platform also allows the restaurants to directly communicate with the customers and market their latest offerings as per their likes. Also on Eatable if a restaurant has all the documentation ready they can sign up with us without depending on a sales representative to on-board them which makes it a quick process for them compared to the 30-45 day waiting period on other platforms,” Sarkar told Inc42.
The company’s network currently includes 300 restaurants in Bengaluru, and it plans to expand its services to Delhi and Mumbai next. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company may skip Delhi and Mumbai for now, and move on to West Bengal.
Competition Gets Harder Each Day
Recently, the restaurant management platform POSist launched its online ordering system for restaurants and cloud kitchens to enable direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels through the in-house websites and mobile app. The company too aims to create an alternate form of revenue for its customers in order to give them better management. Not only the company offers them this solution but is bundled with other restaurant management services offered by the company.
Though both Eatable and POSist have very different service offerings, it does hint towards a growing demand for this change in dynamics in the foodtech industry. Eatable directly competes with both the big names in the food aggregators industry — Zomato and Swiggy.
Zomato had recently allowed the customers to have a full contactless dine-in experience. The order on the go was a part of the feature, along with QR codes-enabled payments, digital menus and more. Another aggregator Dineout also has similar services, and has launched takeaway services for more than 5K leading restaurants today (August 26, 2020). Meanwhile, Swiggy too allows enabled take-out options on nearest restaurants.
Commenting on the competition, Sarkar highlighted that these companies have transformed from aggregators to hyperlocal delivery services, which deliver everything from grocery to alcohol. These take-outs and quick dine-in options are not even a part of their main business. He believes that a platform that solely focuses on this segment will be able to do better.
Moreover, the company believes that the customer experience is going to its unique selling points for the users. Meanwhile, the direct link between the customers and restaurants may be another factor pushing restaurants towards the platform.
Talking about the future of restaurants, POSist’s cofounder and CEO Ashish Tulsian had recently told Inc42, “Everyone will have to move to a brand, every restaurant will have to think of their product as their menu and their name as the brand. That brand will have different manifestations, and one of them is going to be cloud kitchens.” Tulsian believes that no restaurant is going to do a dine-in only model again, there will always be a hybrid approach.