This article was originally published on Kalaari.com
So what do you want to do after graduating from IIT?”, a close friend asked with an expectant look. As a reflex, I replied, “Build a startup! Would love to create something interesting in the food space.” It wasn’t a childhood dream or a mindless banter, and the more I thought about industries that interested me, the more I was convinced that food sector was one of the most exciting areas to be in.
That was circa 2004.
Cut to 2014 and Holachef was born. All the homework, observations and market analysis through the years did not prepare me for what I learned as I became a stakeholder in this vast, and largely unorganized, industry. Food sector was still an interesting space, but some of the challenges that lay on our way had little to do with scaling or expansion. Food, as I now realize, has a lot to do with emotions.
Since the beginning, we had a simple vision for the Holachef brand – to become an extension of one’s personal kitchen. What did that mean for us? It meant we not only had to serve great food but also touch an emotional chord through the food. Are you wondering which are these emotions that I talk of are? Read on!
“I like it spicier” vs “It was too spicy for my taste!”
Imagine getting these as reviews for the same dish by the same chef on the same day. Everyone likes their food in a certain way. In most cases, that ‘way’ is how mom used to make it. Believe it or not, we all have a distinct image (and taste and aroma) in mind when someone mentions the humble kadhi-chawal or something equally intrinsic to the palate.
More than standardization of recipes; we learnt that it is the localization and personalization that can play a potentially huge role in creating a flutter in the F&B space. For far too long the industry has thrived only on standardization and niche specialties; more so when the value proposition is that of providing ‘food for daily consumption’
“I am bored of this food!”
No surprises there – we eat at least thrice a day, every day. Food is something that most people look forward to when they need something to lift their mood up or simply to break the daily monotony. Boredom can set in within no time. At one point mom used to ask you, “So what do you want to eat now?” and you could tell her what your heart (and taste buds) desired. But how many of us enjoy that liberty now?
To be able to deliver variety in daily menus without compromising on quality or nutrition is of significant value when it comes to a food business.
“I feel guilty ordering outside food every day.”
We have all been in that situation when over-indulging in outside food has left us feeling less responsible about ourselves. It raises questions about our (seemingly unhealthy) lifestyle.
A food delivery service that can take away the guilt from ordering-in every day – now that’s quite a challenge we have at hand.
Getting a mother to approve our food for her son or having a wife’s confidence that she can rely on our food for her husband’s daily consumption is the Holy Grail for us. Achieving that is what will create a successful people’s brand.
“I love to explore new cuisines when I travel.”
More often than not, food is what makes a travel experience complete. You visit a new region within your own country or a foreign land, thrice a day you explore the local cuisine on your vacation. And once back, you crave those dishes and remember them with their authentic taste. Can a food service recreate the same taste and fulfill those cravings? Can we offer original Mediterranean flavors and French taste to remind you of the wonderful holiday you once had? There’s our big opportunity.
“The food just spoiled my mood!”
Eating something which does not taste the way you want it to; or craving something but getting to eat something totally different can potentially ruin your mood for long. Being in the food business made us realize that we are actually in the business of creating happiness. Our food can make or break someone’s day – and that’s a lot of pressure to work with.
“Food ordering can get frustrating!”
Can you relate to these situations?
1) Ordering-in food for an impromptu house party but spending over 30 minutes in taking down what each person wants to eat.
2) Calling food for two (say, you and your spouse) but while you want to eat Chinese, the spouse is craving Continental. You might decide that ordering from multiple restaurants is way too cumbersome for a weekday dinner so one of you end up compromising on your preference.
3) Wanting to order-in a scrumptious pizza but having to spend over 15 minutes in building the order (way too many tempting choices that makes it hard to decide)
Can a single food ordering service solve all of these problems at once? Can we offer contrasting varieties, a simple check out and add value to the customers’ life without wasting too much of their time? That’s the problem statement we work with every day!
“The food made me nostalgic!!”
When the food brings back memories from the past – reminding one of mom’s cooking or a travel experience, or even an exciting house party, that’s when it creates true happiness. How we get there is something we learn every day and the learning continues.
Every customer feedback and suggestion that we get makes its way into our decision making process. Perfecting a standard product is one thing, perfecting something new every day is totally different – especially when it has so many emotions attached to it. The only way to get there, we realized, is by putting in emotions of our own – our undying love for food and our passion to share it with everyone else.