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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Startup Saturday: Filling people with home cooked food

Saket Khanna, founder of Meal Tango, is keen on creating a national footprint by engaging more chefs

pune Updated: Jan 12, 2019 17:08 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
The business started off well and Saket had home dining facilities in New York city, London, Pune and Mumbai
The business started off well and Saket had home dining facilities in New York city, London, Pune and Mumbai(HT PHOTO)
         

Can a flea move an elephant? With Swiggy, Zomato, Scootsy, Faasos, FoodPanda and more jostling for the food delivery pie, how does a startup plan to get a slice? Saket Khanna, founder, Meal Tango has been through different food business cycles to believe that he can. The idea began when he was doing his MBA at Oxford University . “Like all Indians, I longed to eat home cooked Indian food and realised that there were many like me. So I started a service where people could experience home dining for a fee.”

This was in 2013. The business started off well and Saket had home dining facilities in New York city, London, Pune and Mumbai. “However there were some issues that I discovered as we went along. Many home chefs were not comfortable with the idea of having strangers home particularly the ladies who lived alone. So after two years, I abandoned the idea.”

Saket Khanna
Saket Khanna ( HT PHOTO )

THE TANGO BEGINS

In spite of the initial hiccups, the idea of providing people with home cooked food stayed on in Khanna’s mind. So in 2015, he turned that over into a food delivery model.Easier said than done. For what this meant was to establish a food delivery system that was no mean task. “There is a need for home cooked food and this is my USP. I would be open to tying up with a food delivery company, it will mean that much more exposure to my home chefs,” said Khanna. 

THE DELIVERY CONUNDRUM

Since Khanna decided to take on the task of delivery himself, this meant establishing a process that would ensure timely delivery. “We opted for the hub and spoke model,” he said. Khanna also has adopted a hybrid delivery model which involves his own team of delivery boys plus a tie up with a delivery company.” Khanna explains the economics of food delivery. “Let’s say I pay ₹15,000 per month to my delivery boy. This would mean that he should do at least 20 deliveries a day. Now we are not adding the cost of petrol that he will use. And this calculation is assuming he works 30 days a month which he does not. So the delivery cost in the end goes over ₹25 per delivery, which is a lot for an order of a meal” Swiggy and Zomato charge anywhere between ₹19 to ₹29 per delivery.”

FUNDING

Khanna shares that getting an experienced person from the delivery industry helps. When Khanna started his home dining service, he received funds from investors Vaibhav Domkundwar, Sanjay Jindal and several others who put in an amount he does not want to disclose. “When we changed our business in 2015, they still stayed on with us because they believe in the concept of good, healthy home cooked food. I also got investors from abroad and collectively we raised ₹1 crore. We also received funds from Brand Equity Treaties Ltd. We used this money for the marketing.” he said. He said that they broke even in September 2018 and are cash flow positive now.

MARKETING

Khanna learnt the using the print media for a new concept really it to gain customers. “In just six months we saw a 1300% increase in the number of people ordering from us,” he said.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Khanna said that Meal Tango would expand to other cities which would be driven by the data collected.

First Published: Jan 12, 2019 15:00 IST

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