Food delivery Startups in India have a considerable share of the “Startup pie” that the country has to offer. Offline food delivery Startups have been present there for a long time, but it is the online version of the concept that has seen a big surge in the last 3-4 years. But it is not all roses for most of them and last year saw some well established online food delivery Startups facing the heat of the turbulent times that the Startup world has to offer.
Companies like Zomato, which ventured into food delivery segment after being successful as a restaurant search and discovery platform and Tiny Owl, a restaurant food delivery aggregator were at the receiving end of the market force last year. These companies fired a significant number of their employees last year and the top management passed on the blames to the sales department for not meeting the targets. This demonstrated the inherent weaknesses and challenges that the food delivery Startups are facing.
But this hasn’t stopped people from venturing into this ‘evergreen’ Startup Idea, as it is called by some experts. Hoping to grab his share of the pie and to provide quality home cooked food which not only ends your hunger but also gives you the option of connecting to your region, Saurabh Dhanuka(below) founded Online food delivery venture JabWeAte in 2015.
Jab We Ate was among top 40 startups of West Bengal, selected out of 1500 applications for India’s 1st reality show on business idea called “Egiye Bangla”. It was organized by Department of MSME in association with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park and Zee.
Saurabh has completed his executive MBA from IIM Calcutta and has worked for almost 9 years in product and digital marketing.
So to know how is JabWeAte different from other similar ventures and what he thinks about the entire online food delivery sector in India, we interviewed him.
Tell us something about your Startup journey. When did you first come up with the idea of JabWeAte?
I always wanted to start a venture of my own and was pondering over the idea for a while until I finally realized- it had to be something related to food. I have always been involved into jobs where traveling was a must. My visits to cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Gurgaon, made me realize that there is a lot of potential in food business.
The idea became more concrete during one of my trips to Mumbai. I was in Mumbai for a month and the first few days I spent trying out a lot of local Mumbai food. In 10 days though I started longing for some good Bengali food, and that is when it hit me. There must be so many people working in Kolkata longing for some authentic food from their region. That’s when I came with the idea of providing regional thalis, the basic concept “Jab We Ate” is built on. JabWeAte offers perfect meal solutions that cater to a cross section of individuals. We serve regional thalis, Italian meals, Chinese meals, Mexican delicacy, vast varieties of desserts and customized cakes.
India is gradually improving its rankings in ease of doing business but still there are institutional challenges. What were the initial challenges that you faced as an entrepreneur?
One of the biggest challenge for me was finding people to deliver the food. I was very particular about one thing i.e. Food has to be delivered fresh. Delivery plays a vital role in our type of venture. Initially, we had trouble finding delivery boys who knew the streets of Kolkata. There were times when my cousin and I delivered the food so that it made it to the customer at the right time. Now, I have tied up with a local logistic company which helps me deliver food on time.
The other challenge was managing variety orders at the same time. This is why we have brought about the system of having different chefs each with their own specialties. So if we get 10 orders for a Chinese combo and 10 for a simple thali, we can still manage the cooking and keep it all fresh.
Online Food delivery Startups are growing at an unprecedented rate. How do you differentiate yourself from your domain competitors?
What differentiates is the variety that we offer to our customers. We are typically not a company providing traditional food, but also, other form of food like Platters, Food baskets, Desserts and cakes, etc. I was very sure about the fact that we need to deliver anything and everything that a person can go and eat in any restaurant.
Very soon we will be starting with delivery of ice-creams which would be definitely a turning point for us. Moreover, we have also started Mid-night delivery i.e. Cooking and delivering food post 12 AM. This would mainly cater to working class in IT and BPO companies who miss their home cooked food at mid-night.
Also we have started a concept called, “Be Your Own Chef” initiative to bring on board talented home chefs. We already have 15 home chefs registered with us and wish to extend this to at least 50 by end of 2016.
So how has your journey been so far.
The journey till now has been fantastic with lots of ups and downs. I believe that whatever you do should make you feel happy. Everyday you should have a motive to wake up in the morning. You should always strive for giving that extra push every day
One thing I would like to mention is that apart from practicing the “no food wastage” policy at Jab We Ate, I also run an NGO for underprivileged kids. It is a volunteer based service called “RIDHI” that currently operates in Kolkata, Bangalore and Delhi . At RIDHI, we collect food from restaurants and food outlets and we distribute the same to underprivileged kids. Not only this, whatever we earn via Jab We Ate, we spend 10% of it for RIDHI.
Saurabh doesn’t want JabWeAte go app only. He thinks that catering to every type of audience is the key to success. He believes that there are people who still feel calling and ordering for food is the most effective and efficient way.