GSF Accelerator's Rajesh Sawhney floats ready-to-cook meal delivery startup InnerChef

7 Apr, 2015


Angel investor and founder of GSF Accelerator Rajesh Sawhney has teamed up with four other co-founders to launch a ready-to-cook meal delivery startup InnerChef.

Other co-founders include Bal DiGhent, who runs DiGhent Cafe, a bistro and boulangerie in NCR; professional chef Heena Karia Thakkar; fantasy stock trading platform Skybulls' founder Uday Bansal and Rahul Samat, who has worked as a product manager at Barclays in New York.

Launched under InnerChef Pvt Ltd, the venture delivers on-demand meal boxes to its customers. These boxes consist of all the ingredients of a specific meal such as a pasta or a salad which needs to be mixed together and cooked. It also consists of a recipe card which helps customers prepare it the right way.

Currently it is offering boxes for 16 dishes for lunch and dinner. Within a month, it plans to offer 25-30 recipes. Presently it is offering western cuisine (salads, paninis and pastas) and plans to add oriental and Indian cuisine in the coming weeks.

It is present in Gurgaon and would expand to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore by July.

"People across different geographies are trying out newer food everyday and as a result their palates are continually expanding. Increased global travel has exposed people to different types of foods -- Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, and Ethiopian. However our kitchen ingredients have not expanded accordingly," Sawhney told Techcircle.in.

"We will be bridging that gap," he added claiming that these meals would not take more than 15 to 20 minutes to be prepared.

Sawhney is the former president of Reliance Entertainment and founder of GSF Superangels in India. GSF also runs a startup accelerator in the country. InnerChef estimates that Indian food retailing market is as big as $300 billion in size or roughly one fifth of the country's GDP and the restaurant market is pegged at $50 billion. The home food delivery market is growing at 40 per cent per annum and is expected to be $10 billion in size by 2016, according to the company.

The genesis of the venture was Sawhney's 12-year old kid who had issues with home cooked food, like any kid his age. Sawhney says this is a growing problem for any parents as the other food alternatives would be pizza or burgers, both unhealthy options. "I realised that is a huge market opportunity as the Indian palates had expanded but not the ingredients in the kitchen," he says.

He met his partners around two years ago and all of them wanted to do something revolving around food but did not know what. It was only six months ago that they finally decided that ready-to-cook meals was the segment, they want to cater to and their target audience will be family with school kids, young married couple and unmarried professionals who live alone.

It is not the first one in this business, though it has a differentiated offering as it doesn't sell ready-to-eat food like most others.

When it comes to startups in this space, predominantly, there are two sets of ventures with one essentially connecting consumers with local restaurants and either just comes across as an ordering platform (Foodpanda, Tinyowl and others) or even manages delivery (Swiggy and Mealsonwheels).

The other set connects consumers to independent chefs or offers food ordering from in-house kitchens-Bite Club, Yumist and SpoonJoy. InnerChef would fall under this other set.

Both the groups of ventures have attracted capital from VC firms.

Earlier this week, Bangalore-based Bundl Technologies Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates online food ordering startup Swiggy.com, raised $2 million from SAIF Partners and Accel Partners in a seed round.

Last month Gurgaon-based Ecstasy E-Ordering Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates food ordering site Bite Club, raised $500,000 (Rs 3.1 crore) in seed funding from Powai Lake Ventures and a few angels including Aneesh Reddy, co-founder & CEO at Capillary Technologies; Goibibo Group founder Ashish Kashyap; and Alok Mittal, who has been heading Canaan Partners India.

In February Yumist Foodtech Pvt Ltd, which runs online food ordering startup Yumist, raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Orios Venture Partners.

January saw TapCibo, an Android-based mobile-only food ordering service owned and operated by Bangalore-based TapCibo Online Solutions Pvt Ltd, raising an undisclosed amount in funding from Alok Goel, founder and CEO of online mobile recharge venture FreeCharge.

SpoonJoy also recently received an undisclosed amount in funding from Flipkart's co-founder Sachin Bansal; its chief product officer Mekin Maheshwari; Sahil Barua, co-founder of Delhivery; and Abhishek Goyal, founder of Tracxn.