The success stories scripted by Zomato and Swiggy have paved the way for several food-tech startups in the country to follow suit. Growing internet penetration, evolving lifestyles of consumers, and increasing frequency of eating out are some of the factors responsible for the growth of this industry in India. According to a report by Google and Boston Consulting Group, the industry is slated to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25-30 percent by the end of 2022.
There are several women entrepreneurs who are utilising new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and riding the food-tech wave.
Monica Narula and Noopur Tiwari, Co-founders, Dash
Dash.menu, a product of Idea Chakki Pvt.Ltd, was founded by ex-NDTV journalists Monica Narula and Noopur Tiwari along with Gunjan Mehrish in 2015. An innovative concept, Dash is a great alternative to paper menus at restaurants. Using a tablet, diners can preview the meal through short food videos to know how exactly it is available. These 15-seconds long videos give information regarding vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the most popular dish at the restaurant, and meals available under a certain budget.
The co-founders have all had a brush with the world of food during their stint with NDTV. Monica has previously created formats for shows like Chakh Le India, French Connection, and Highway On My Plate.
Rashmi Daga, Freshmenu
One of the pioneers in food-tech, Freshmenu started way back in 2014, when Domino’s was the only food brand that took online orders. The startup led by Rashmi Daga offers a large variety of cuisines, and has 27 kitchens across Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi, as of January 2019.
The startup tries to bring the world on a customer’s plate. “Today, the biggest aspiration is where are we travelling. We bring a part of the world’s food to them and let customers explore palates – feel, try, and experiment the world of food,” she has said.
Prerna Kalra, Founder, Daalchini
As a working mother, it was difficult for Prerna Kalra to make healthy home food for her three-year-old daughter every single day. At the same time, she realised that this was an issue that several working professionals were dealing with. Her brainchild - Delhi-NCR based startup Daalchini (meaning ‘cinnamon’) - provides home-cooked food to customers through IoT-based vending machines, referred to as DaalchiniHut.
The vending machine boasts an in-built heating zone and offers an eclectic variety of food, including Maharashtrian chivda, daal paratha, Parsi cake rusk, green peas mini samosa, gobi manchurian, vegetable biryani, homemade multigrain cookies, and vada pav with sauce. The food that the vending machine offers is prepared by a trusted network of tiffin service providers, who also supply these meals.
Saakshi Jain, Co-founder, Zelish
Bengaluru-based food-tech startup Zelish was founded by Saakshi Jain, Rakesh Edavalath and Arpit Joseph in April 2019. Not only does this startup help in meal planning, they also assist users in shopping and cooking. Once a user answers questions on their meal preferences, the app creates a plan and details out the ingredients to prepare them, and at the same time auto-fills the grocery shopping list. These supplies are delivered by local kirana stores and supermarkets, generally within 24 hours.
Zelish is also part of BSH Future of Home Accelerator powered by US-based Techstars. It has an impressive repertoire of clients, including Marriott Hotel, Le Meridien, Mamagoto Restaurants, ITC Hotels, and Taj Hotels.
Pranoti Nagarkar, Zimplistic
Pranoti Nagarkar, an alumnus of the National University of Singapore, founded Zimplistic to provide a novel roti-making technology, named Rotimatic. This mechanical engineer developed the prototype in 2009 - she was also declared a winner at the Singapore Startup competition. Her husband and co-founder Rishi Israni came on board later.
Rotimatic makes piping hot rotis in a single touch, making it a revolutionary product. The startup has garnered attention and funding from the Southeast Asian private equity fund Credence Partners and EDBI.
Harsha Thachery, Masalabox
A labour of love by Harsha Thachery, Bengaluru-Kochi based Masalabox delivers home-cooked meals and delicacies. The startup claims that the food is made in small quantities, freshly prepared every single day with utmost care. Today, Masalabox delivers anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 home-cooked meals a day in Bengaluru, and has been seeing a MoM growth rate of 30 percent.
Although the company began with a pre-order model, it soon transitioned to the on-demand delivery space. Users can now choose between different cuisines based on their dietary requirements. Masalabox has over 200 home chefs who prepare the menu in their home kitchens that are compliant with the FSSAI guidelines.
(Edited by Athira Nair)