MUMBAI: Mumbai: Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame is betting on food startups by backing mobile-based aggregator ZuperMeal, a marketplace and delivery service for home-cooked meals.
Kapoor and Ravi Saxena, cofounder of kitchen appliance maker Wonderchef, along with two foreign partners will together invest $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) in the two-month old Mumbai-based startup for an undisclosed stake. The company was founded by Saxena's wife Pallavi along with Balasubramanian A and Prabhakar Banerjee, both engineers and Indian Institute of Management graduates.
Kapoor said keeping in mind that women empowerment and skill development are key priorities outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ZuperMeal helps Indian women to use their skills to make money and take pride that their food is recognised.
"Our idea of empowering homemakers through ZuperMeal is not just transactions, but we will also teach them. Ultimately, this is a skillset and product that they already have and we are enabling them to earn through it," Kapoor told ET.
Having launched operations at Powai in Mumbai two months ago, ZuperMeal will use the funds to scale up operations in the country. The startup plans to reach 500 towns with 60,000 housewives and achieve a sales volume of Rs 4,500 crore by 2020, cofounder Saxena said. She didn't provide the current turnover.
"ZuperMeal is not a delivery service alone. It is a complete food business where the best talent is identified, their best dishes are curated, priced and presented by us," she said, adding that the focus is not restricted to the top 10 cities but includes smaller towns with the goal of promoting regional specialties.
Currently, the startup has 150 homemakers registered on the platform and 20 of them are already active. ZuperMeal dishes out an average of 60 to 70 meals a day, earning a net margin of 15%.
ZuperMeal is betting the concept of 'eating out at home' will provide an alternative to eating out by delivering fresh, home-cooked food at the customer's doorstep without additives or preservatives.
"Through this strategic investment, ZuperMeal has the opportunity to leverage the strong network of 35,000 women entrepreneurs of Wonderchef and scale-up quickly across the country," said Saxena of Wonderchef. These women entrepreneurs are part of Wonderchef's network of appliance sellers.
Saxena had set up international food business group Sodexo's business in India and also headed the Landmark Group's restaurants and food courts business in India in 2006. He developed eight businesses, including the master franchise for Yellow Chilli restaurants, Gloria Jeans Coffee chain and Fun City.
Kapoor said the startup has the opportunity to boost food processing at the home level. "Food tech is one the highest priorities in India, but unlike European countries, most of our rich supply of fruits and vegetables goes waste. This is where ZuperMeal would make the difference," he said.
Kapoor said there is enough demand in the online food market. ZuperMeal's rivals include Cyber Chef, Wats Cooking, Meal Tango, Once Upon My Kitchen and From A Home.
However, he said startups in this space generally lack the ability to execute and scale up. "The idea of a home-cooked meal is known to everyone but to create a sustainable business out of it and make it large is something we are good at."
Source: The Economic Times