Holachef: Chefs’ cuisines at your doorstep

Ratan Tata-backed foodtech start-up looks to ride on the growing delivery market

Aaj khane mein kya banega? (What do we cook to eat today?) This daily challenge of what to cook, and who will cook, led Saurabh Saxena and Anil Gelra, both alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, to find Holachef Hospitality in September 2014.  Holachef, which brings cuisines from master chefs’ kitchens to your doorstep, has been a hit with users.

The company, which recently raised an undisclosed amount from Ratan Tata, says it is bullish on the market. In June, it had raised Series-A funding of Rs 20 crore in a round led by Kalaari Capital and India Quotient. Prior to that, in February, Holachef had raised a seed fund of Rs 2 crore from India Quotient in the form of convertible notes. “It all started with a personal need. What to cook was a challenge day in and day out and there was too much dependency on domestic help. Else, we ended up ordering a lot and going out a lot. When we spoke to people around, we learnt we were all in the same boat. That was the genesis of Holachef,” says Saxena.

Business Standard – 26th October 2015

To Saxena, it is like living a beautiful dream. He says when Holachef had been launched, everyone had been sceptical and the start-up hardly had found chefs to come on board, as people were not sure if customers would order when there were so many restaurants.

On the day of launch, the portal did two orders and in the first month, 110. “We have now come a long way and are doing 2,000 orders a day, roughly translating to 4,000 meals per day,” says Saxena.  According to him, it was the signing of a sous chef from Taj Banquets that proved Holachef had arrived. A sous chef is the culinary chef, appointed under the executive or head chef in any kitchen.


Within a year, Holachef expanded to eight localities in Mumbai. In Powai alone, where it began its services, it has 70 chefs. In all, Holachef has around  250 chefs on board. It has also initiated operations in Pune.

“Today, the level at which we are operating, there is a lot of inbound interest from the chef community. There are celebrity and sous chefs, wanting to come on board. These are exciting times for us,” says Saxena.  The start-up has plans to expand to new localities, but it doesn’t want to spread too thin. It would like to first make its existing operations perfect. “Once we become absolutely sure of our processes, it will become easier for us to expand to new locations,” says Saxena. For Holachef, technology is crucial to its business model. It enables seamless processing of orders, back-end automation in predicting  demand, and planning deliveries better.

Anand Lunia, founding partner, India Quotient, says Holachef can scale up without a lot of capital and manpower. “Chefs cook on their own, invest in equipment and are happy with a variable pay. Holachef is now ahead of competition, and it continues to double every two months. The team at Holachef is only of one year and has been making the right moves.” The food ordering market exists in smaller cities, too, and Saxena thinks the start-up can expand to 20-30 cities in India. “We also plan to take Holachef international,” says Saxena.


The real competition for Holachef would come from people cooking at home. If one does not have the time or interest to cook at home, Holachef comes as an alternate form of supply.

Holachef combines the best of all worlds. It has a large, daily-changing menu while maintaining authenticity of taste because they have so many specialist chefs, working for them. It maintains quality, which marketplaces sometimes flounder with. Holachef has mastered the logistics, packaging, and quality control,” Lunia adds.

For now, publicity has only been through word-of-mouth. “We are active on social media as a new-age technology company, and we try to understand social media as much as we can. Paid media should come when people can’t discover you anymore and we are still being discovered.”

Saxena kicked off his entrepreneurial career with Mexus Education, while Gelra was earlier with Sodel Solutions.

Saxena says the idea is to provide a great mix of delicacies from around the world – all prepared by Holachef’s chefs. Also, they need to be able to design menus because that’s crucial to the portal’s everyday offering — a new menu each day!

The chefs who come on board at Holachef need to have professional experience, along with expertise in a certain cuisine.

I would like to emulate every quality of Dravid: Saurabh Saxena, CEO & Founder of Holachef

(This interview was first published on FirstPost on July 6. You can read the original piece here.)

Success Quotient is a weekly feature that appears every Friday on Firstpost, which looks at the pains and joys en route to success for a head honcho – whether a CEO, MD or an entrepreneur. The column looks at the ideas that helped launch a company, its highs and lows.

Saurabh Saxena, CEO and Co-Founder of Holachef, the food delivery startup started in September 2014 that brings cuisines prepared by chefs to your doorstep — available in a few places in Mumbai so far — started off as an entrepreneur. His first venture got acquired, he moved on to work with two firms before starting up again. He is also an angel investor.

Saxena talks about his entrepreneurial dreams even as a student at IIT (Bombay) where he graduated after doing his B.Tech and M.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering in 2004. Along with his entrepreneurial dreams, he never lets his bucket list out of his sight. He shares how he made his dreams into reality and the efforts it took him to reach where he is now.

Excerpts from the conversation:


Did you always dream of starting a venture of your own?

Even before I graduated, I knew I would do something on my own. Before I co-founded AakarKnowledgeSolutions (which got acquired by Mexus Education), I had worked with Nishith Desai Associates (NDAs), a research-based international law firm, and Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. My parents were quite surprised initially because they were not aware of my aspirations to be an entrepreneur. However, they were supportive from Day 1.

What is it about IIT graduates that most of them are in the startup eco-system?

It’s the culture that breeds inspiration for IIT graduates to start on their own. IIT is a closely related community where everyone is connected and willing to help out each other in every way possible. It gives real life role models.

How challenging was it to startup? How old were you then?

Starting up in itself is a big challenge. You are devoid of money, structure, knowledge, resources – everything needs to be put together brick by brick. It’s a great learning process and no two days are alike. I was 26 when I first entered the startup eco-system. It was exciting and gave me the confidence to venture again with another startup.

I took some time off to prepare myself for the next venture. This time I had more cushion with respect to money and network of people. Just as in a corporate job one gets promoted, in a start-up eco-system one evolves into a better entrepreneur with time and experience. However, each industry has its own challenges. From education sector to food, the transition was not that easy. I am still learning about the F&B sector.

How did the idea of Holachef come about? Tell us a little about it – how you met your co-founder, set up your food delivery startup?

Like any classic story, ours, too, began in a basement; except that it wasn’t as much of a basement, but our dinner table. All we wanted was to have some good food delivered to us without burning a hole in our pockets. We were bored of the local restaurants in our vicinity: the pizzas and the rolls. Also, none of them exuded much confidence with their menu options or the quality of ingredients used. The finer delivery options were either too expensive, too far for delivery or not good enough to be considered as a regular ordering-in option.

We intend to provide many cuisines prepared only by the experts. Chefs prepare their dishes from their signature cuisines and it helps us serve a distinct platter every day.

Anil Gelra, my Co-Founder, and I graduated together from IIT. Since then we have worked together for Mexus Education and have always been in touch. In college, we were part of the team that organized a very successful tech fest together.

Tell us about the genesis of the name Holachef?

We wanted to bring out the element of chefs serving hand-crafted meals. Holachef implies – saying hello to the chef. Plus, was an available domain. This eased the process.

What did you plan with Holachef?

The time between when I moved out of Mexus to starting Holachef was spent in planning my next venture. It was also the period when I got to spend time with my daughter who had just turned a year-old then. I travelled, built my house and relaxed before I stepped into the entrepreneurial shoes again for Holachef.

What is your business strategy?

Our only strategy is ‘customer first’. Everything else revolves around that.

You have received multiple rounds of funding.

Team, efficient execution and time is important for any start-up. However, funding equips all of these to move ahead. Capital breaks barriers. Raising money in time is an important skill set that an entrepreneur should have, particularly in a B2C space where brand building takes time.

What are your future plans?

We will be fueling our infrastructural expansions that will enable better preparation and delivery of food. This will help us penetrate deeper into Mumbai as well as other cities in India.

Do you have a hero/heroes you admire and want to emulate?

Rahul Dravid. I would like to emulate every quality that he has exhibited. I saw him play for the first time I was in class 4. He was my hero since then.

You are an angel investor too. Tell us how you choose projects that you want to invest in.

I can tell you five things that I need to feel positive about when I consider a start-up to invest in. No research, no tons of reading up or number crunching, it’s primarily ‘that feeling’. ​ Besides that:

– My gut feel about the idea
– Whether I would like to be a part of that company/brand as an employee​
– The scale and my understanding of the industry
– Whether the time is right for that idea to enter the market
– The core team – should be exciting. Everything depends on the team

You are a loyal Royal Enfield rider. How often are you able to take a break and vroom off on your bike?

I wish I would get more time to take my bike out. However, I do go on short rides whenever possible.I like indulging in off-beat travel experiences. Be it kayaking for 15 nautical miles in Malaysia, bungee jumping or a back-pack tour across South India; I have, in my personal life, always been a fan of everything ​that requires more action and less planning. Once I left everything that I was doing to go watch Messi play in Kolkata. That was like ticking something off my bucket list!

You can follow Saurabh Saxena on Twitter here.

Get set for a heavenly experience at Holachef

(This story was originally published on You can read it here.)

For all those who are abreast of the hustles and bustles of Mumbai’s fast lanes, it’s quite pertinent that getting through a satiating food joint is indeed a cumbersome task. Here’s a one-stop-shop destination to solve your troubles.

We can say that Holachef has rightly set high standards for the food chains canopying all over Mumbai. Check out the nitty-gritties here:, a Mumbai based restaurant in cloud, offers better eating options with convenience. It connects some of the best chefs in the city with foodies and food enthusiasts through an online ordering service. Launched in September 2014, offers a fresh menu every day and one can place the order through their website or mobile app.

The restaurant in detail

From Mexican to Middle-Eastern and from Kashmiri to Chettinad; caters to many palates with food made from the best quality ingredients in state-of-the-art kitchens. Their stellar chefs have impressive culinary skills and experience which reflects in the food being served.

Currently, operates in Powai, Chandivali, Vikhroli (West), Bhandup (W), Andheri (E), Sakinaka, Marol, Chembur and JVLR. It will expand its reach and services to the rest of Mumbai in the coming few months. Saurab Saxena, founder of the fine dine restaurant, said in an interview, “The idea is to provide a great mix of delicacies from around the world – but prepared with finesse by coveted chefs.”
Holachef is available in all areas of Andheri and Chembur, Malad, Mulund, Ghatkopar – Powai, Vikhroli and Bhandup.

Where all it is spread?

The restaurant is known for delivering food in spill-free packaging in a single person meal format. Known for displaying, new menu every day, the meals can be ordered from their online website and mobile app on Android and iOS.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if we tell you that Holachef is active on almost all the social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They are known for their excellent customer service. The fine dining restaurant is majorly planning its vast expansions all over Mumbai and is intending for deeper penetration into at least 4 more Indian cities in the next two years.

The food joint’s demand is increasing per day since its inception in September 2014. From just 5 orders in a day, the company has successfully achieved to get over 150 until previous months.

Explore the best of the services and experiences the restaurant has in store for you. Happy Ordering!

Holachef is all set to launch in Thane

(This article was originally published in NearFox.)

Holachef has satisfied the taste buds of food lovers in Andheri and Powai region by bringing the best chefs and amazing cuisines to its Mumbai based cloud restaurant. Now with a bang Holachef is all set to start its dinner service in Thane from May 30, 2015.

Starting out with only dinners in Thane, Holachef is planning to start its lunch and evening snacks section very soon. It promises to serve tasty, homely and hygienic food, that too at a great price. Holachef will be launching in Thane with a variety of cuisines by the most popular chefs in Mumbai.

Holachef was launched in September 2014, by its founders Saurabh Saxena, CEO and Anil Gelra, CTO, with their passion for food and the idea of connecting the best chefs with foodies. Speaking about the foray into Thane, Saurabh says, “We had been receiving a lot of demand from Thane since the last few months. We were keen on starting our services there as we already have a huge set of customers waiting for our arrival in the vicinity. We hope for a positive response from Thane, similar to the other localities in Mumbai that we serve.”

From Mexican to Middle-Eastern and from Kashmiri to Chettinad; Holachef caters to many palates with food made from the best quality ingredients in state-of-the-art kitchens. Their stellar chefs have impressive culinary skills and experience which reflects in the food being served.

The menu at Holachef is dynamic and changes every day. Top-notch city chefs serve their signature cuisines ensuring only the best in taste and quality. Orders can be placed only through their mobile app (Android and iOS) or the website. The food is packed and served in reusable and recyclable material; accompanied with biodegradable cutlery, and delivered wherever you are.

Holachef has already gained huge popularity in Mumbai. Owning to which, it is now ready to step into other areas. Currently, it operates in all areas of Powai, Chandivali, Vikhroli (West), Bhandup (W), Andheri (E), Sakinaka, Marol, Chembur, BKC and JVLR. It will expand its reach and services to the rest of Mumbai in the coming few months.

How Holachef is catering to the foodie needs of Mumbaikars

(This article was originally published in NearFox. You can read the original article here.)

The booming market of startups in the city touches almost all aspects of our lives. We have startups that take care of our utility needs and there are some that help us to shop and buy smart. But today we are going to discuss a startup that has won our hearts by satiating our taste buds. Yes, you have guessed it right we are talking about Holachef. It is a Mumbai based restaurant in a cloud, which offers better eating options with convenience. It connects some of the best chefs in the city with foodies and food enthusiasts through an online ordering service. Currently, operates in Powai, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), Chandivali, Vikhroli (W), Bhandup (W), Andheri, Goregaon (E), Sakinaka, Marol, Chembur, and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). It will expand its reach and services to the rest of Mumbai in the coming few months.

Working of Holachef:

Food tech startups are considered as the next big thing in the customer internet space after e-commerce. Founded in May 2014 by two IITians, Holachef beautifully leverages technology to meet the demand for food startups. From Mexican to Middle Eastern to Kashmiri among others, it brings variety to your plate.

Founders of Holachef: Anil Gelra (left) and Saurabh Saxena (right)

“Holachef offers a fresh menu every day and one can place an order through our website or mobile app on Android or iOS. The deliveries are made as per the time specified by the customer at the time of placing the order. Holachef encourages pre-ordering and is not in a space where 30-minute delivery becomes the product itself”, says Saurabh Saxena, founder-CEO of Holachef.

It is also known for its unique packaging. The food is placed in good quality containers and is then placed in a cloth bag, which has the Holachef brand name printed on it.

‘Chef Creativity’ of Key Importance:

Currently Holachef has more than 100 chefs on board out of which 60 chefs serve actively. The chefs hired by Holachef have professional experience in cooking along with expertise in certain cuisines. The food is made from the best quality ingredients in state-of-the-art kitchens. Their stellar chefs have impressive culinary skills and experience, which reflect in the food being served.

This enables the platform to provide the customers with a great mix of delicacies from around the world. “A passion for cooking is essential for all the chefs- they need to be absolutely in love with cooking and serving what they make”, adds Saxena.

New Menu Each Day:

If you are a frequent visitor at your favorite restaurant the chances are there that you know the menu by heart. But at Holachef it’s different. Every day you find new alluring dishes on their platform. “We create daily new menus with the intention of providing a good mix of regional Indian and international cuisines along with offering a balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. We also try to serve a good variety of starters, desserts, snacks and refreshing drinks. On certain days, we serve less or more of non-vegetarian based on our analytical prediction of demand”, says Saurabh.

Presence on Social Media platforms:

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as a technology driven platform Holachef is present on most of the social media platforms. It has very active accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Their customer service is really quick. Many of the customers seek some direct information from their social media accounts. The response time is fast and at times it is less than five minutes.

Tapsya Pandey, who has used the services of Holachef twice, says that once she found that there was a lot of difference between the dish depicted on their website and what was delivered. “We immediately tweeted about the same. We quickly got a response from them and they apologized for their errors by sending over some free brownies. That gesture was really sweet”, says Tapasya.

Currently, Holachef is serving more than 500 orders per day.

No direct Competition:

According to Holachef there is nobody with a similar business model operating in the Indian market. “There aren’t too many online food ordering services that offer the kind of variety in cuisines that we offer. Restaurant aggregators and restaurants which are moving into online ordering and mobile ordering could be considered our immediate competitors”, adds Saurabh.

Challenges faced by Holachef:

According to Saurabh Saxena, the biggest initial challenge was to get the good chefs on board. “The next challenge was of driving demand. We did not invest in any paid forms of marketing but tried to spread the word through our personal network. At that time, we were also fine-tuning our mobile app and the website based on feedback from our initial customers. However, slowly as word-of-mouth spread and orders started pouring in; everything else fell in place too”, adds Saurabh.

Expansion Plans:

Holachef is now focusing on expanding deliveries to all parts of Mumbai. Their plan is to expand with deeper penetration into at least 4 more Indian cities in the next two years. Going ahead, they also plan to focus on expanding their customer base rapidly.

Ordering-in Tonight, Mumbai? Say Holachef!

This article was originally published in on You can see the original feature here.

Delicious, Hot meals just a call away
How many times have you found that eating out can become a not-so-great experience simply because either the restaurant was too far or the prices didn’t sit well with the food quality? Too many, I’m sure. Ordering in would mean only a certain restricted dishes and that can get extremely dull over a period of time.
Stepping in to bridge this gap between superior quality and better variety in food were Holachef founders Saurabh Saxena, Co-founder, CEO and Anil Gelra, Co-founder, CTO. With their passion for food and the idea of connecting the best chefs with foodies, was launched in September 2014 for consumers. enables the user to place an order for a meal right from their desktop on or from their mobile app which is available on the Android and IOS platforms. “It is a restaurant in cloud that delivers meals from varied cuisines at a pre-determined time slot, as selected by the customer” says Saurabh Saxena. Holachef encourages meal planning, i.e. they encourage you to plan your lunch and dinner meals ahead of time; it’s not a 30 minute delivery goal which can compromise the quality of the food being served.
They have a new menu each day with cuisines from Rajasthani to Malwani, French to Oriental, Thai and Russian, etc and what makes ordering from Holachef even better is that they deliver it in spill-free, recyclable and biodegradable packaging in a single-person meal format as well. It’s amazing that you get such a wide variety to choose from even if it’s just for one person and with the environment friendly packaging to boot, Holachef is definitely setting the bar high!
The chefs on board with Holachef not only have professional experience but they also have expertise in certain cuisine. As Saurabh Saxena puts it, “The idea is to provide a great mix of delicacies from around the world – but prepared with finesse by coveted chefs.” To be a chef at having professional experience is not enough, one must have a passion for cooking as well as be able to design a new menu each day.
Currently, they are delivering to Powai, Chandivali, Vikhroli (West), Bhandup (West), Andheri (East), Sakinaka, Marol, Chembu, Goregaon, Juhu, etc and are focusing on expanding to the rest of Mumbai in the coming few months. Holachef has raised Rs. 2 crore funding from India Quotient and are now looking to raise Rs. 25-30 crore to fund their expansion across Mumbai and 6-7 cities across India.

How Holachef built a tech-based food business

This story was originally published in You can read it here.

Backed by India Quotient, Holachef is an online food platform that crowd sources Chefs in Mumbai to cook and deliver homemade, preservative-free food to customers.

Modern day kitchen economics are such that quite often we tend to leave the ladles in the shelf and order-in food from outside. Added to this, we take it as an opportunity to scout for food that we can’t otherwise make at home. In simpler words, exotic dishes. But, how long can we survive on restaurant food? And, how often have we found authentic cuisine home delivered at reasonable prices? These were the very thoughts running on Saurabh Saxena’s mind when he was still an employee at Soon enough, he found a solution and plunged into the entrepreneurship ecosystem with his second venture, Holachef (his first being Aakar Knowledge Solutions, research-based education company).

Founded in 2014, Holachef is an online food platform that connects Chefs who specialise in exotic cuisines with customers who turn to online for food delivery. “We don’t operate in an entirely new sector. Holachef is an improvisation of what a Zomato on one hand and a brick and mortar store on the other have built. For us, technology is the enabler to conduct business more efficiently,” indicates Saxena.

Hola Chef is backed by India Quotient, which invested Rs. 2 crore as short-term debt in February 2015. “One of the primary challenges that any startup in its early days faces is in identifying the right valuation. Luckily for us, India Quotient was willing to take that risk,” says Saxena. Once the startup raises its next round of funding, or when the business has achieved a sizeable scale, the debt will be converted into equity.

Rolling out the idea

So how does Holachef work? First, the startup partners with Chefs who are professionally trained to cook exotic, preservative-free food. Then, it collates data and uses predictive algorithms to determine what kind of food customers want to eat. This analysis is then used to decide what kind of food needs to be prepared and made available on the platform for the day. Unlike any other food business, Holachef does not offer on-demand service to its customers. For every order, the customer has to choose a time slot within which they want the food to be delivered. “Our customers can also pre-order food and on the basis of this demand, we determine what to make and how much to make,” states Saxena.

The Chefs at the startup are typically ones that have held high positions at fine dining restaurants or even amateur chefs who hold a professional degree in this field. “Usually, amateur chefs learn on the job,” adds Saxena. While today, the menu on the website changes every day, Saxena indicates that they have plans to post a seven-day menu, which will ensure that they are better planned in meeting customer requirements.

On the logistics front, the Chef prepares and delivers the food to Holachef, which in turn delivers the food to its customers. To fulfil this, the startup has setup an internal logistics team and delivery is managed efficiently through automatic route planning. “We also look at a sharing economy with our logistics team. We don’t mind hiring people who can work for just a few hours a day,” he says.

Holachef currently has over 100 chefs on board and records an average of 250 orders per day and over 3,000 orders a month. While it started off operations from Powai (in Mumbai), it has expanded into Chembur and by year end plans to create a presence across key locations in Mumbai. “By then, we estimate our monthly number of orders to increase to 20,000 to 25,000,” shares Saxena. The company takes a percentage of revenues from the Chef, for each dish.

At the purchase point

As is the case with most startups, Holachef earned its first few customers through a combination of word-of-mouth and social media marketing. “Our key marketing strategy was to get the customer to taste the food first. Until now we’ve had a zero customer drop rate. This puts us in a very strong footing in sales,” notes Saxena. He adds that Holachef’s key differentiator lies in making fresh food ever day, and not using any preservatives. “In fact, even our dishes don’t repeat for a week. For now, all leftover food for the day goes to NGOs which donate food to the needy every day,” he says.

Operating in a food business is akin to dealing with emotions. Food is often very personal and every individual’s preferences vary. This, while being an advantage, is also a challenge for Holachef. “Sometimes, even a chef can have a bad day and the food, in turn, may drop in quality. In such circumstances, we ensure that we inform the customer before hand, and our customer support team resolves the issue immediately,” he admits.

Second, of course, is in managing logistics in the most efficient way possible. Saxena feels that once the seven-day menu is introduced and business expands to other regions, more systems will have to come in place to ensure that each order is tracked and the food gets delivered on time.

Three-year plan

In the longer run, Saxena plans to take Holachef to multiple cities, including Tier II and Tier III regions. His focus during the scaling up phase is going to be on ensuring that the food quality and delivery process is maintained, and in making technology more intuitive for chefs and customers. “In three years from now, we want to reach a monthly order target of 50,000 orders a month,” says Saxena, on a parting note. featured in Forbes India

India’s Growing Appetite For Food Service Startups

(This is an excerpt from the story which was published in Forbes India’s issue dated March 20th 2015)

People who love to eat are always the best people, or so declared the inimitable American chef, author and TV personality Julia Child (and who are we to disagree?). India’s rapidly growing food technology space couldn’t agree more. With an increasing number of consumers looking for newer offerings, the market is, quite literally, ripe for the picking. Be it for healthy salads, sandwiches, continental or home-cooked meals, online and mobile-only-food services startups are increasingly developing an appetite for the country’s busy urban population that seeks wholesome, nutritious meals, but may not have the time or inclination to prepare them.

Over the last one year, the number of such food-tech startups has grown exponentially across the country, garnering investor interest. Reason: The business is touted to be the ‘next big thing’ by industry watchers in the consumer internet space after ecommerce and cab-rental services. According to Tracxn, a database for startups and private companies, in the food-tech space, out of 145 companies that operate in the country, 66 were launched last year.

Globally, both food-on-demand startups such as the US-based Sprig, SpoonRocket and Munchery and ready-to-cook food kit services like Blue Apron and Plated, all of which rely on apps and online ordering to deliver meals to customers, have been a success story. A Forbes article, dated October 2014, estimates a $180 million valuation for San Francisco-based Munchery, while New York-based Blue Apron was rumoured to be valued close to $500 million last year when it raised a funding of $50 million. According to a December 2014 report by Tracxn, $1.2 billion has been invested last year across multiple deals in the global food tech space.

Can this buoyancy be replicated in India?

There has already been movement, but experts reckon the extent of it would depend on the scalability of the model. “Anybody who can build scale has the potential to build a very good company. Food has a sizeable wallet share. It is said that globally the next Uber will come out of here [the food tech space], maybe even from India,” says Abhishek Goyal, founder, Tracxn. “Investing in technology and backend is of utmost importance. You have to scale up there. It helps keep other costs lower.”

Original Story in Forbes India, March 20 2015

Take Mumbai-based Holachef for instance. Started by IIT-Bombay alumni Saurabh Saxena, Anil Gelra and Ritu Rana last May, this meal-service startup actually serves as an online marketplace for chefs—professionals as well as amateurs (homemakers)— to list their signature dishes.

The company chooses to not have a central kitchen in order to save on rentals. The costs incurred by them are in technology (app and website that takes care of taking orders), packaging and door-to-door delivery. “We want to create a community of chefs while serving good, home-cooked food to the consumers,” says founder-CEO Saurabh Saxena (33). “We might rent spaces offered by the chefs themselves, but don’t intend to build a central facility now. The food is prepared in home kitchens.” Holachef has got 150 chefs on its platform already, some of whom have had stints at hotel chains like the Taj, Le Meridien, and Marriott.

At any given point, the platform has 40 active chefs who service consumers in Powai, Andheri, and Mumbai’s central suburbs. Holachef has grown from five orders in September 2014 to 150 orders per day in January 2015. “We have been able to retain 60 percent of our customers. The average order per person is five every month,” says Saxena.

Growing at 50 percent month-on-month in revenue, it is targeting over 200 orders and 450 meals a day by the end of February. It is also looking to enrol as many chefs as possible. “We track analytics and reviews to know which dishes and chefs are being liked by our customers. It helps us arrive at the right mix in our meals,” says Saxena, adding that variety in menu and the quality of food will be key differentiators going ahead. The company has attracted investor interest and raised Rs 2 crore led by IndiaQuotient, a seed-stage venture capitalist firm, in February. It is also looking for Series A funding of Rs 20-30 crore in the coming months. Most funds will be utilised in building the technology backend and optimising delivery.

While Holachef s average price for a dish is Rs 200, which might be on the higher side, investors believe that customers are willing to pay a premium for good, home-cooked food. Anand Lunia, founder-partner at IndiaQuotient, says, “When customers know that it is fresh food, and not refrigerated, and has been cooked at home with good quality ingredients, they are willing to pay extra.”

Lunia also endorses the less capital intensive no-kitchen marketplace model. “There is no need for a centralised kitchen and an assembly line to cook food… it is a network of local chefs which is preparing the food. Few years ago, nobody must have imagined that there could be a marketplace model for the food business very much like in the taxi and ecommerce industry,” he says. featured on

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Having Their Chunk Of The Online Food Industry: Holachef, A Startup That Is Bridging The Gap Between Food Lovers & Chefs

In the present generation, everyone is on the quest for something great. But, what is mutual among everyone, is the quest for food, great food. Everyone is on the lookout for something new – a new dish, a new restaurant or a new cuisine. But, it isn’t always see. An eat-out experience isn’t always a good one; it is either too far, too expensive or low on quality. You can order food at home, but, it gets monotonous after a while and you don’t feel like having it anymore.

With an aim to fill the gap between fine-dining and its accessibility, was launched. It aims to connect the best chefs in town with food lovers and, also, to provide them with an amazing food experience, without having to shed in a lot of money.


Holachef, which comes with the mission to connect the best chefs in town with foodies, is an extension of your passion for food. There always remains a gap between the good fine dine experience and its accessibility. To bridge this gap, Saurabh Saxena co-founded this Mumbai-based company with Anil Gelra.

Saurabh is also an advisor and mentor to promising startups and budding entrepreneurs. Anil is adept at creating internet scale applications delivered over mobile and web. He brings to Holachef his acumen for designing, developing and scaling big data applications.

Currently, Holachef is a team of 15 and has over 150 chefs onboard with a total of 25 members in the delivery queue.


Unlike, every other restaurant food delivery or 30 minute guaranteed delivery chain, Holachef believes the fact that someone who is looking forward to a sumptuous lunch or dinner would plan it well in advance. Following this theory, they deliver the food in specific timeslots. connects the customers to an impressive set of chefs with a rich culinary experience through an online portal. The customers can order only via the mobile app or the desktop hence eradicating the need for menu pamphlets. Moreover, Holachef provides a new menu every day. The meals are provided in a single-person meal format, which prevents wastage and the spill free, recyclable packaging comes with an option for the customer to choose the time of delivery.

Of all the traffic that they entertain to, Holachef interestingly gets 65 percent of its traffic from phone users while the remaining 35 percent comes from the desktop users.


The Indian food industry stands at $50 Bn and is growing rapidly. The demand for good food has increased and market is slowly waking up to the opportunities in the online food sector given that the home-delivery segment is growing at a whopping 40%. Thus, the market to be covered is vast and compared to the international standards, the Indian Online food delivery is at a very early stage and needs time to grow.

Holachef has served over 3000 customers in the past 5 months and has a retention rate of 60%. The average orders per customer have also increased from 2 to 5 per month. The revenue model is a share of the price at which the meals are listed.

With a revenue of INR 60,000 in the first month of September 2014, Holachef has grown to INR 16 Lac revenue in the month of February 2015. And looking forward to increase the number month on month basis.


The main advantage that Holachef has over everyone even remotely related to this industry is the fact that they are a community of chefs with the required skill and experience rather than a single chef heading over a team of cooks. There are in the similar services, but, the biggest competition is the local restaurants that deliver food.

Holachef is a one-of-its-kind service and restaurant aggregators and restaurants moving into online-ordering and mobile ordering could be considered their immediate competitors. But, the one-person meal formats also make it more convenient to order food in a specified proportion and to prevent any wastage.


According to Saurabh,” is as much about food as it is about technology. Technology is a huge enabler and not just for making a simple ordering process for the consumer. Technology automation on our backend system allows us to service more people, more efficiently. Technology helps us in predicting demand as well as planning deliveries better.” has raised INR 2 Cr funding from India Quotient in the form of convertible notes. They now intend to raise INR 25-30 Cr to fund their expansion across Mumbai and 6-7 other cities across India.

Without leaving out on any factor, the company plans to expand with deeper penetration into at least 4 more Indian cities in the next 2 years.

They have a high engagement of customers and repeat ordering rate and going forward they plan to invest into marketing to expand their customer base and would soon be serving more orders per month than any other fine-dine or casual dining restaurant in Mumbai.

Our Take has combined technology and the love for food to create a product which will enhance the customer’s fine-dine experience. Thanks to an upwardly mobile, unceasingly busy and tremendously aspirational generation, the appetite for good food is increasing and is making sure that this need is taken care of. featured in

This interview was published originally here:

‘We are a fine-dine restaurant in cloud’: Saurabh Saxena, Founder of

Started in September 2014, – which brings the world’s best cuisines from the master chefs’ kitchen right to your doorstep – has seen tremendous growth and an increasing customer base.

In an interaction with Founder-CEO of Saurabh Saxena, he told YourStory about his passion with food and tech and how they plan to make a difference in this space.

YS: What was the motivation to start

SS: As ardent lovers of food, we were always in search of something new and delicious – a different cuisine, a unique dish, an affordable fine-dine restaurant, et al. But a great eat-out experience would either be too far, too expensive or wouldn’t score high on quality. The numerous order-in services available also get boring after a while – be it local restaurants or tiffin services; no matter how great they are. Most take-away services offer a limited number of cuisines – another pain-point for foodies when they want to indulge in different types of delicacies.

We realised that there was a gap in demand for fine-dine experiences and their accessibility. That led to the idea of connecting some of the best chefs in town with foodies like us in a convenient manner and at a price that is a fraction of the price at various fine-dining restaurants. A proposition that made ‘eating better’ an everyday phenomenon.

YS: Tell us more about the founder(s) background.

SS: I am the Founder and CEO. I graduated from IIT-Bombay. I was earlier the Co-Founder/Director, Sales & Marketing at Mexus Education Pvt. Ltd. I kicked off my entrepreneurial career with Mexus Education. Its brand, iKen, has touched the lives of over half a million students in India and abroad. When Mexus was acquired it had become an autonomous company with a strength of 1000 employees and over 300 franchises pan India.

He is also an advisor and a mentor to promising startups and budding entrepreneurs.

My Co-founder and CTO is Anil Gelra. He is also from IIT Bombay. He was earlier Co-founder / Database Architecture at Sodel Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Anil is adept at creating internet scale applications delivered over mobile and web. His previous venture, Sodel Solutions, has created applications that cater to millions of daily users, daily stream petabytes of data and analyze terabytes of data in real time. Some of his marquee clients are Thomson Reuters, Huffington Post and a couple of the fastest growing startups in the US, such as and HelpRX.

Anil brings to Holachef his acumen for designing, developing and scaling big data applications. Sodel Solutions is now an autonomous company; with over three million USD in revenues dedicated to developing big data applications.

YS: How does evaluate chefs who are taken on-board? Can I be a chef for

SS: The chefs that come on-board at need to have a professional experience in cooking along with expertise in a certain cuisine. The idea is to provide a great mix of delicacies from around the world – but all prepared with finesse by coveted chefs. A passion for cooking is essential for all the chefs – they need to be absolutely in love with cooking and serving what they make. They also need to be able to design menus because that is crucial to our everyday offering – a new menu each day! Chef creativity is of key importance, hence. Having said that, we have a few chefs on board who have simply been amazing home-chefs and have found a great platform in to reach out to a wider audience through their delectable cooking. If you fulfill the above mentioned criteria, welcome aboard!

YS: What are your sources of funding?

SS: Rs 2 crore funding has been raised from India Quotient in the form of convertible notes. We now intend to raise Rs 25 to Rs 30 crore to fund our expansion across Mumbai and spread our wings in six to seven other cities across India.

YS: How important is technology to your business model?

SS: We are a fine-dine restaurant in cloud! Thus, is as much about technology as it is about food. Technology is crucial to our business model for enabling a simple ordering process for the consumer as well as a seamless backend automation. This allows us to service more people, more efficiently. Technology helps us in predicting demand as well as planning deliveries better.

Proportion of our user traffic between mobile to desktop is 65:35, which signifies that our target audience is more comfortable placing orders on the go through their handheld devices. This only goes on to reiterate that today’s consumer is more reliant on technology for overall lifestyle convenience.

YS: What is your marketing strategy?

SS: Word of mouth has worked brilliantly for us! So far, our marketing has only been customer rewards in terms of discounts on total order value, personalised goodies, etc. New customers come in through references from their colleagues, friends or neighbours who have tried our food.

Going ahead, we do plan to focus on expanding our customer base rapidly. There is a very high repeat ordering rate that we experience with our customers. When we do invest into marketing to expand our customer base, we would be serving more orders per month than other fine-dine or casual dining restaurants in Mumbai put together.

YS: What is the current market size of this industry in India?

SS: The Indian food industry stands at US $50 billion and is growing rapidly. The appetite for good food has increased tremendously; thanks to an upwardly mobile, increasingly busy and tremendously aspirational generation. The market is slowly waking up to the opportunities in the online food sector given that the home-delivery segment is growing at a whopping 40 per cent (CAGR). Hence, there is a lot of opportunity in this domain. Compared to international standards, Indian online food ordering is still at a nascent stage and has a long way to go.

YS: How does see itself growing?

SS: We started with the Powai area in Mumbai. That was our test marketing region when we launched in September last year. In the five months since then, we have expanded to Chembur, Andheri (East and West), Goregaon East, Vile Parle East, Jogeshwari, Ghatkopar, Kanjurmarg, Vikhroli, Mulund, Bhandup, etc. We will soon be expanding to the whole of Mumbai in the subsequent months. At the moment we are focusing on expanding our reach to all parts of Mumbai. Soon we will be entering other cities with the same model. As far as the team is concerned, we have a great bunch of people who are shaping and fine tuning the business. We have been able to quickly expand our team in the last few months and with increased reach of our service, the team will grow bigger too.

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