Consumer is king. And rightly so!

When we started Holachef, it was to provide a great solution to a very basic problem in our household – what to eat today and where to get it from? Being a working couple, we ended up ordering food from outside very often (4 days a week, to be precise). While it was a convenient option – we knew we could not sustain it for long. After all, who wants to eat restaurant food every day – it wasn’t doing any good to our health conscious mindset.

The idea to start Holachef was exciting and since day 0 my vision for the brand was very simple – we can serve to others only the food that we can eat – on a daily basis.

I am a finicky customer and that was the whole premise of building Holachef. As Confucius had said, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” Our customer service philosophy could not be described better than that.

As a food-tech company, we have focused on building a tech system through which all forms of feedback, queries, reviews, etc that we receive from our customers are collated and worked upon by our internal team and chefs alike.

For example, when a customer tells us that a particular dish was not great, it sets in motion a lot of things at our end – speaking with others who ordered the same food, speaking with the chef who made that meal, etc. This helps us pinpoint the exact issue and based on that our food team lists / de-lists that dish in future.

In the last one year of our existence, our spends on infrastructure, food improvement and tech systems have surpassed our marketing spends many times over. Our belief is that if the consumer experience is great, marketing will take care of itself; which is true since word-of-mouth has worked brilliantly for us.

As we turn one, our biggest learnings have been:

  • Everyone takes their food very seriously. If a consumer has a great meal, we make their day. So it’s not just food that we are selling, we are also responsible for their day-to-day happiness.
  • Like everything else, we are not perfect. No matter how hard we try and how superior we make our processes, we will be imperfect in a certain way. It makes us restless. The good part is that in pursuit of achieving perfection, we do the best that we can.
  • Hardwork is the only way to succeed – be it deliveries or planning the daily menu – one wrong decision can spoil the user experience at many levels. Hard work cannot be discounted even for a minute.
  • We are because our consumers are. Everything we do must add to their delight.

Good reviews, a positive tweet, a happy Facebook post or a cheerful image on Instagram is our daily dope. Since everything is closely monitored by our entire team, each positive feedback is applauded and cherished. A happy customer is always, ALWAYS a delight. That’s what we live for – that’s what we aimed for when we first began.

Personally, for me, the biggest joy is when my 3 year old daughter sees the Holachef menu and points to a dish and says, “I want to eat this, daddy!”

As for my wife and me, I am happy to share that being a half Maharashtrian and half Rajasthani family; we are just glad that today we have an option to enjoy a homely Puranpoli alongside a Daal Baati Churma even though we aren’t equipped to make either of it at home.


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!

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

Read the complete article here:

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 VC Circle

Online meal service startup raises $323K in seed funding led by India Quotient

It is a marketplace of meals that curates chefs.

Mumbai-based Holachef Hospitality Pvt Ltd, the company behind online meal service startup, has raised around $323,000 (about Rs 2 crore) in seed funding led by early stage investor India Quotient, as per separate media reports. The funding was in the form of a convertible note.

We have contacted Holachef co-founder Saurabh Saxena for more details and will update the post as and when we hear from him.

The company was founded in May 2014 by IIT-Bombay graduates Saxena, Anil Gelra and Ritu Rana. Saxena had previously founded Aakar Knowledge Solutions, which was acquired by Mexus Education (a Bilakhia Holdings Company). is a marketplace of meals that curates chefs ranging from executive chefs to amateurs. While some chefs prepare the food at the company’s kitchen, others have a kitchen of their own. The firm also manages the logistics of the food (including packaging, storage and delivery) and claims to deliver the food within 20 minutes of placing the order. Currently, the firm only delivers in select suburbs of Mumbai and it claims to be delivering about 150 orders daily.

This is the second startup in the online meal ordering space to be backed by India Quotient. The early stage investor has also backed Gurgaon-based Frsh, which prepares food in-house. Interestingly, India Quotient bootcamp had earlier incubated, a startup that connected home-chefs with curious foodies. However, the startup shut shop last year.

Recently, a number of startups in the online meal ordering space have raised funds. These include TapCibo that raised funding from Alok Goel, founder, FreeCharge. SpoonJoy raised funding from Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal; its chief product officer Mekin Maheshwari; Sahil Barua, co-founder of Delhivery; and Abhishek Goyal, founder of Tracxn. Yumist also raised funding from Orios Venture Partners.

Souce: VC Circle

Early-stage funds back food startups

MUMBAI: Riding on the crest of a food-tech wave, Yumist (co-founded by Zomato’s ex-chief marketing officer), Frsh and Mumbai-based HolaChef have raised funds at a time when investors are chasing food-related startups as the next big consumer internet opportunity in India. While Orios Venture Partners has invested in Yumist, India Quotient has backed HolaChef and Gurgaon-based Frsh (Kae Capital is a co-investor).

These startups — operating in what was by far the hottest sector of 2014 when 66 food-tech companies were created — are expected to attract a rush of early-stage capital this year. All this on the back of on-demand food delivery gaining popularity among urban Indians who are increasingly looking for healthier food options at reasonable price points simply by firing a mobile app.

Alok Jain, who co-founded the three-month-old Yumist along with restaurateur Abhimanyu Maheshwari, says the idea behind the Gurgaon-based startup was to solve the customer’s pain point of daily meals at the workplace. “We own the production of the meal, do our own delivery, which means that we offer consistent quality. The average delivery time for us is 20 minutes and our vegetarian meals are priced at an average Rs 85, which will go down further as we launch a meal box.” Yumist, which caters to the Gurgaon area at present, will expand to all of Delhi NCR by the end of the year and then move to other cities in the country.

“The India meals market is very large around middle income and lower income. Food-tech startups will have to differentiate from the US/Europe by tweaking end-product pricing significantly,” says Rehan Yar Khan, general partner, Orios Venture Partners, which put in a million dollars in Yumist. All the early-stage deals have been in the range of $1-2 million, the largest being TinyOwl, which received $3 million from Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners last year.

While the first-gen of food tech startups like Zomato were only marketplaces connecting restaurants to consumers, this new breed of players is handling supply chain and logistics, and wants to own the offering fully. The opportunity is huge considering the Indian restaurants servicing industry is estimated at over $50 billion, out of which only 5-6% is organized currently. “Food is entirely unorganized. Real estate and cost of capital make offline chains tough to turn profitable,” says Anand Lunia, founder, India Quotient, an early-stage fund.

Most food tech startups have restricted themselves to their home cities for now, typically starting operations in one neighbourhood. So Bangalore has SpoonJoy (angel-funded by the likes of Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal), Eatlo and Freshmenu, Gurgaon has BiteClub and Eatonomist, and Mumbai has Resotaste and iChef, besides many others.

“Food tech is a local, mobile and on-demand problem. For founders, this is a very exciting problem to solve. And for investors, this is a large market if solved. It needs to get crowded further before winners will start to emerge,” says Zishaan Hayath, an entrepreneur and angel investor.

Saurabh Saxena, who co-founded HolaChef along with his IIT-Bombay batchmate Anil Gelra, says they are betting on their predictive algorithms which will be able to predict the type of demand that exists and create supply accordingly with their chefs.

Source: Times of India

Food technology start-up Holachef rustles up Rs 2-crore seed funding

MUMBAI: Holachef, a start-up in the food technology space, has raised seed funding of Rs 2 crore in a round led by India Quotient. It is also looking to raise Series A funding of Rs 20-30 crore in the coming months.

Holachef, founded in May 2014, curates amateur and professional chefs on its platform, allowing them to sell selected signature dishes. Once a meal order is placed, it takes care of packaging, storage and delivery. Orders have to be placed few hours in advance.

“We are not in a market where 30 minute delivery becomes the product itself. We are counting on the fact that people like to be planned when ordering food, especially lunch and dinner,” said CEO Saurabh Saxena, who founded the firm with Anil Gelra and Ritu Rana.

Holachef has seen number of orders per day increase from five when it started operations in September 2014 to over 150 in January 2015. The start-up initially started by serving Mumbai’s Powai area, and has now expanded to areas like Mulund, Andheri West, Ghatkopar and Malad. It is targeting 200 orders per day by February end.

Holachef’s seed round has been done in the form of a convertible note, which is a short-term debt that converts into equity when a start-up raises Series A funding. This helps the deal close quickly, as founders and early investors can wait till Series A to determine a valuation. For early risk, convertible note investors are typically given a pre-determined discount to Series A valuation.

India Quotient, which is currently investing from Rs 30 crore Fund I, has done several such convertible deals, one being food delivery start-up FRSH.

Source: Economic Times