The past few months have seen a number of startups working in the food-tech industry managing to raise massive funds. While the organised food industry is said to be valued at around $15 Bn, and is projected to grow 16% every year to reach $28 Bn by 2018, an associated segment, home delivery is witnessing a rapid growth of around 40% as people get more and more busy and find even lesser time to cook.
Hoping to tap into the Food-tech-logistics market, three friends Prateek Agarwal (IIT KGP ’13, Ex- Housing.com , Ex-Schlumberger), Aushim Krishan (IIT KGP ’12; Ex- Barclays Capital , Singapore), Siddharth Sharma (NTU ’12, Singapore; Ex- Deutsche Bank ) launched Bite Club, a managed marketplace connecting people who cook great food (chefs) directly with the consumers.
All of this is done with zero hassles, mobile-based ordering, scheduled & on-demand delivery, daily changing menu, convenient packaging and much more!
Just few months into operations, this NCR-based startup has recently raised INR 3 Cr. in funding from Powai Lake Ventures and angels including Aneesh Reddy (Capillary Technologies), Ashish Kashyap (Goibibo Group) & Alok Mittal (Canaan Partners).
There are a number of Problems Customers Face while ordering food :
- Where to order/what to order — Zomato solves this to some extent, but figuring out what to eat is still a big problem.
- Paradox of choice/Decision paralysis — All restaurants tend to have a long list of 50 options that you can choose from. They think it’s variety, we think it’s confusion.
- Ordering meals — All restaurants have an À la carte menu, meaning you have to order individual dishes. Now these dishes are crafted for 2–3 people in terms of quantity. Which means, if you are alone you can’t order for yourself. You pay more and hence waste more.
- Minimum order value — This is the biggest irritant in food delivery. Restaurants say, “You HAVE to order for Rs. 500, and only then will I deliver the food.” Why does it have to be like that?
- The nature of food — Restaurants intentionally spike up the food with oil and spices to make it more indulgent. This is not a sustainable lifestyle option.
- Order tracking — More often than not, you end up calling the restaurant to check “Khaana kab aayega?” Doesn’t this annoy you?
How Bite Club Tackles These Problems
On the consumer side, Bite Club provides a daily changing menu of wholesome meals that can be ordered via its mobile app (Android right now; iOS & Web app in the pipeline). The food is prepared by an aggregated community of home chefs, amateur chefs & professional chefs. The food served is quite different from the regular restaurant fare, and is a mix of gourmet & comfort food (across both Indian & Non-Indian cuisines).
On the chef side, it offer two key services i.e. demand generation & fulfilment (packaging, pickup & delivery).
What Sets It Apart/ Its USP
Based on general mindset, people consider food as good if it is fresh, convenient, diverse, healthy, and obviously tastes good. What makes Bite Club different from other restaurants is that the food that it offers to its customers is handmade by top local chefs using the freshest ingredients in low volumes, which ensures no dilution of quality. “The fact that we have a network of chefs (and not someone cooking behind closed doors) cooking ensures creativity and diversity on the menu. We bet that no one can get bored eating the food that Bite Club serves because the menu changes daily. The nature of food is guilt-free, and can be eaten on a regular basis,” tells Prateek Agarwal.
On Confronting Competition
“The food-tech space is pretty crowded right now. Locally our competition are restaurants, but we have value propositions (no min. order, meals format food, daily changing menu, app based ordering, healthy & fresh food, unique concept) for customers that no restaurant can offer. Our strength lies in technology and building beautiful products, and we will continue to outperform everyone else like we’ve done so far. For us this business is as much about technology (maybe even more) as it is about food. We know how to automate each and every process in the supply chain,” says Prateek on how they differentiate themselves from others operating in this space.
Traction & Expansion
Bite Club has already served over 6000 meals in less than 3 months to more than 1200 unique customers. It is currently delivering almost 250-300 meals a day. “Surprisingly all of this traction has come in at zero marketing. The word-of-mouth marketing component is very strong for us,” said the company.
Since its launch the Bite Club app has managed to get over 2500 downloads. As per Prateek, each customer orders almost 5 times a month, and they have seen 80% retention.
Currently, the startup is operational in only in Gurgaon and plans to use the recently raised funds for building technology, growing operations and expansion. Going forward, the next cities on its radar are Delhi & Noida.
The Food-Tech Industry & Fundings
The market for food delivery is vast but compared to international standards, the Indian Online food delivery is at a nascent stage and needs time to grow. The relentless entry and even presence of startups in this space further validates the huge growth potential of this segment. It is interesting to note that the Online restaurant guide Zomato is also planning to start food delivery and has even announced its plans to invest $50 Mn for the launch of food delivery business. A few months back, Holachef.com, another startup dealing in this space raised INR 2 Cr funding from India Quotient in the form of convertible notes. Foodpanda also deals in this space.
A roundup of the recent fundings in the food-tech space:
- Foodpanda acquired JustEat India
- SpoonJoy got funding from Sachin Bansal & others
- TinyOwl got INR 100 Cr. from Matrix, Sequoia & Nexus in Series B
- FreshMenu soon to close INR 31 Cr. in funding from Lightspeed Venture
- FreshWorld got funding from Kris Gopalakrishnan & IAN
- FRSH raised about $250k – $200k
- Gurgaon-based Yumist grabbed Series A funding led by Orios Venture Partners.
- Faaso’s raised $20 Mn from Lightbox & Sequoia In Series B
The unique concept that Bite Club brings onto the Food-Tech table seems promising, especially in light of dynamic menu that it offers coupled with an array of features like app-based ordering and no minimum order. However, with an overly flooded food-tech market in India, it might have a hard time dealing with the other upcoming startups. Zomato, with huge financial firepower has already decided to up the ante by deciding to invest $ 50 Mn to enter the food delivery market.
The figures and statistics showcase the huge popularity that Bite Club is amassing by the day. In the world of startups, though, one can never be too sure. When countless competitors are watching with an eagle eye, a single mistake can spell one’s doom. Lets wait and watch!!