If the food business is growing, can the home delivery or the table booking services be far behind.
There are quite a few of these start-ups helping you either book a table at a restaurant or taking your orders and delivering the food at your doorstep.
Dineout, bookyourtable, Foodpanda, Justeat, Dinein and Yo! Potato are just a handful of these ventures. Some have just started and their operations are restricted to one or two cities, others have expanded to nearly a dozen cities, but all of them see a growing demand for the kind of services they provide. They are the “enablers” as one of them described their ventures.
These companies tie up with restaurants and ensure hassle-free service to their customers. The business model is still evolving and the players are discovering newer services they can offer, all related to the food or eating out business.
Take Dinein, a Chennai-based venture that has tied up with about 65 restaurants in the city, to deliver food home. “We partner with restaurants in the city. We enable them to take orders online and also provide logistics to deliver them,” says Vinit Chordia, partner in Easy Commerce, an e-commerce development company that has started dinein. Apart from the Web site, dinein has a call centre through which too customers can place their orders.
On its Web site, you can see the list of restaurants dinein has tied up with, flip through the menu of each of these restaurants and order the food that you want. Delivery is free if it meets a minimum order value, which you can track when you are ordering your food. If it falls below the minimum order value, dinein charges a delivery service to customers.
Vinit, 36, a commerce graduate and an MBA from the UK, says the orders on the Web site are printed in the kitchen of the restaurant that has been chosen. “There is a seamless communication between the customer and the restaurant and we only enable it,” says Vinit.
He admits that getting into food delivery was not part of his original plans. Easy Commerce, which itself was fairly new, saw a lot of potential for e-commerce in India and wanted to develop a portal on its own to demonstrate its capability to its prospective clients. Thus was born dinein in January 2012.
On a week day, the number of deliveries ranges from 75 to 100 and during the week-ends, it goes up to 100-150. “Which, according to us, is very encouraging because we have hardly done any advertising,” says Vinit. Dinein’s tie up with restaurants includes the restaurants giving a percentage of the bill value as charges to it. This varies from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, depending on the type of restaurant.
The idea for starting this service itself came about because of Vinit’s experience in not being able to get food delivered home. And, that was also the first restaurant that dinein tied up with – Cream Centre, which serves vegetarian food.
At present, dinein is present only in Chennai and Vinit is keen to expand outside the city, but this can happen only when the number of deliveries it handles increases substantially. Till then, he would prefer to consolidate, bring more restaurants under its portal and expand the business.
Krishna Chidambaresh, co-founder, Yo! Potato Marketing Co Pvt Ltd, an engineering graduate, has worked in service in an appliances company, sold software, credit cards and worked in a call centre, but found the stimulation that he was looking for lacking.
He bounced an idea with his childhood friend Showkath Jamal through an e-mail at two in the morning and went to sleep. When he woke up and checked his mail later, he found Showkath had replied, agreeing to the idea.
The name Yo!Potato, something to do with food, was itself suggested, says Krishna, by Showkath’s wife, who had an advertising background. Yo!Potato home delivers food from any restaurant you choose for a fee. It charges its customers a flat Rs 80 irrespective of the bill amount.
The 33-year-old Krishna says the concept of Yo! Potato was born in October 2011 and the venture itself took off in December. “All we needed was a landing page. We didn’t want to spend too much on setting up the business,” says Krishna. He is a firm believer in the lean start-up methodology, which, he says, gives you the cheapest way to test your idea, the cheapest way to make the right decisions.
For the first six months, Yo! Potato did not charge its customers anything for delivering food home, during which time it handled nearly 800 orders a month. Once it started charging Rs 80 an order, the number fell to about 100. The number has picked up again and is close to 700 a month now.
During this time, the venture has undergone changes. Showkath is no longer actively involved in the company. Another partner joined in, but is now keen on concentrating on his own venture. And, another childhood friend, Pawan Kumar, has joined Yo! Potato as a partner and is in charge of its operations. Krishna says once they saturate the segment they operate in, where they charge customers a delivery fee, they will look at actively tying up with restaurants and get their revenues from the restaurants and offer delivery free to the customers.
Even with restaurants, Krishna is keen on a fixed rate rather than go for a percentage share basis. He is now seriously looking to raise funds from someone who will replace one of the existing investors.
He is confident that Yo! Potato will be profitable in a few months and will expand to more areas in Chennai, operating through franchisees.