We are looking at operational break-even in two years: Foodpanda India's Rohit Chadda

16 Jun, 2014

Rocket Internet-controlled Foodpanda is one of the leading multi-location online food ordering marketplaces in the world. Started in 2012 in India, Foodpanda is now looking to aggressively expand to more markets in the country. Foodpanda (also known as Hellofood.com in some global markets) claims more than 3,500 restaurant partners listed across 33 cities in the country. Techcircle.in met with Foodpanda.in's managing director Rohit Chadda to know more about the company's growth prospects, expansion plans and more.

Here are the edited excerpts:

Foodpanda and JustEat are both present in India. How do you place yourself against your key competitor?

We are basically targeting the emerging markets globally. Our immediate goal is to expand to 50 countries at the end of this year. We are evaluating some markets. However, I cannot share the names.

Indeed, we are not directly competing with JustEat, which has presence only in 13 countries whereas we are already present in 45 markets globally. Additionally, most of our markets are not the same. JustEat is targeting developed markets whereas we focus on emerging markets. India is the only market where we are competing with them. However, we are larger than them in terms of reach and partnerships.

What is your position in the India market? How many orders do you get a day?

Currently, we are present in 33 cities. We have partnered with 4,500 restaurants across India, of which 3,500 are live. The rest have been deactivated for bad performance. We are entering two more cities in the coming months.

I cannot share the exact number of orders we get. All I can say is that our current page traffic is 60,000 per day.

We understand you had revenue of just around Rs 9 lakh with a loss of Rs 3.6 crore in the first financial year ended March 31, 2013. How did you grow last year? By when do you aim to achieve break-even?

The figures that you have quoted are incorrect. However, I cannot share more details on this. We are in an investment mode and are opening in new cities every month. So we have not really looked at achieving break-even. That said, we are now looking to operationally break even in two years. We are seeing around 25-30 per cent revenue growth month on month.

Early this year, you partnered with OpenRice, which is predominantly a Southeast Asian restaurant review portal. Why did you choose OpenRice over other leading companies like Zomato?

Our partnership with OpenRice is yielding good dividends for us. We have great synergy in the sense that it gives our customers more convenience and transparency, while helping OpenRice customers take advantage of Foodpanda. OpenRice's customers can now order food through its site. OpenRice has a good coverage across Southeast Asia and our markets are common; so it made sense to partner with it.

In addition to OpenRice, we have partnered with Timescity.com for reviews. We are also open to more such partnerships, and are evaluating some companies, not only in India but in other countries also.

What challenges are you facing in India, given that the market is still in the nascent stages for online food ordering?

As you rightly said, online food ordering is still in the nascent stages in India, and most people are not aware of the online food ordering sites. Here, the food sector is relatively unorganised and fragmented. However, the market is slowly picking up. The challenges are more in terms of operations, and we feel these challenges can be addressed with the right kind of technology tools.

How do you beat the tele-call food ordering service which is entrenched in the country?

Indeed, we offer telephone-based food ordering service, along with our core services. We have provided a toll-free number on the platform. However, it is not our main focus. The telephone-based service has a lot of drawbacks. It includes the language barrier where a customer care executive may not be able to communicate with a customer speaking a different language. Additionally, users will not be able to see the menu. Also, online payment and reordering of food items cannot be done.

Often the same restaurant would also be available on peer sites/apps. How do you ensure people are booking through Foodpanda? We (also) have restaurants which others don't have on their sites. Additionally, we focus on providing good customer experience to make sure that they come back to us. Besides, we run marketing campaigns such as food festivals across various cities. Also, we get exclusive deals from certain restaurants.

Your parent company recently raised $20 million from Phenomen Ventures. What per cent of this capital came to India? Where are you using the capital?

There is no fixed per cent. The funding will be allocated on the basis of performance and requirement. We are using the capital to streamline our operations, improve customer experience and also to expand in more countries and cities. We are not immediately looking for more funding.

What per cent of the total business comes through mobile? Are you looking to boost this further?

Almost 25 per cent of our business comes from mobile. We are now looking to increase the number of orders via mobile to more than 50 per cent in the coming quarters.

Foodpanda is available on Android, iOS and Windows apps. We are launching a new mobile app next week.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)