Free Press Journal

Dynamic menus for demanding gourmet

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Food Vista India-run Freshmenu has a strategic positioning of its own. It is in the food delivery business which delivers meal prepared at its own kitchen. It controls the whole activity chain from sourcing to delivery and menu that are dynamic but limited. Founder Rashmi Daga talks about the business space and growth plans with Pankaj Joshi.

Excerpts:

What was the thought process behind your model?


Freshmenu started three years ago, in October 2014. The core idea was to tap the food order market that is getting stronger. We saw more people with smart phones who had net access and were open to transact from the phone and go beyond the pamphlet or hotel menu delivery order. This was in addition to the value proposition of busy and complex lives along with traffic realities. Thus, Freshmenu’s idea to deliver quality food at home became acceptable.

Another question was around sustainability. We built our USP around people who seek new tastes, enjoy world cuisines and dynamic menus. Adding to it, is flexibility and surprise we offer. Strategically, we chose to open a lot of kitchens close by to customers in different vicinities rather than assembling and frying that other global chains do. Due to the kitchen set up in the neighbourhood, there was no expense on cold chain. Food which is fresh tastes better than food which has been frozen and reheated. Here, we aim to control the value chain from sourcing to preparing to delivery. It is not just valued by the customer but has also helped us to be unit economics positive.

What is Freshmenu’s strength? Where does your business stand?

Today, we are present in Bangalore (with 18 kitchens), the NCR region (4 kitchens) and Mumbai (6 kitchens going to 12) with an average capex of Rs 25 lakh per kitchen. Our order flow has grown by 100 per cent in the past 12 months, maintaining an average order of Rs 300. We are aiming for a monthly revenue run rate of Rs 15 crore by the end of this year. We believe GST will offer us lots of benefits because our costs will be coming down.

Can you define your business as a value proposition?

We understand hyper- demand, time and cost management and today we have 80 per cent repeat orders. Kitchens and menus are designed for quick throughput. With timings of peak order predictable, we can process a food item 10 minutes prior to order or 10 minutes after. Each of our 28 kitchens works from 8am to 10.30pm and on an average each kitchen processes 500 orders daily. We have roughly 500 cooks and 700 delivery riders. Attrition is a challenge but we have an advantage of being a flat and young company and an employer with professional policies which is rare in the food industry. People, hence, are attracted to join and stay.

We mine our data to predict client behaviour – time-wise and day-wise. We seek to increase the frequency of those points where client preferences converge with our menu. We have constantly evolved our menus through client

preference data. We can have strong overhauls in our menus in a period of fifteen days, if required. Thus, our business has the technology of a food-tech aggregation business and the convenience of home delivery from a local restaurant kitchen.

How do you see the evolution of the space?

As far as the scope of online food delivery is concerned, today it is a drop in the ocean. It does not make sense to think of any growth multiple, because reality may be much more than anticipated. As a nation, we are going to be more and more aware of what we eat and how convenient it is, which can only benefit the food delivery business overall and the online segment in particular. At the sector level, we feel there is enough space in the online segment for people like us as well as aggregators. Those aggregators offer more variety and novelty plus the convenience of putting together a massive offering.

Where does Freshmenu aim to be?

We want to focus consistently on whether the brand is powerful or not, and if not then we have to evolve. We just want to aim for the right processes, brand-building and other good things will follow. For 2020, our primary tangible target is to build depth in our chosen city markets. We want to be a top choice in the localities where we operate. Overall, we would want to be in the top six-seven in India’s food delivery business. We believe that, with minor tweaking of equipment, each kitchen can handle 1, 200-1, 500 orders, which is a high level of scalability from the current levels. Delivery is the key component that we must control at all times. Today, we have a 3 per cent complaint ratio, consisting mainly of delays and improper/ incomplete orders, which we aim to bring down substantially even as we grow in terms of activity levels.