In an interview with Restaurant India, Sandipan Mitra, Co-Founder & CEO, HungerBox talks about their biz model.
What was the whole idea behind Hunger Box?
Both Uttam and I have been in the food-tech space in India for a number of years now. We were the ones that championed the concept of online food ordering in India 12 years ago with a business that was later acquired by Just Eat India. (Just Eat India was later acquired by Foodpanda). The idea of building a B2B Food Tech firm originated when we noticed an untapped profitable Food Tech opportunity. There was tremendous potential for a tech-led, disruptive solution that comprehensively addressed the B2B food tech space and that is what we decided to focus on.
What’s the uniqueness of Hunger box?
Our technology platform is our USP. Our technology platform reflects our decade long experience in the food-tech space to provide value across the eco-system. Not only do we provide a seamless ordering experience to the employees, we bring a host of benefits to our partner vendors. The biggest benefit that we have brought to the partner vendors is the reduction in cash pilferage from 15-22 per cent mark to 0 per cent through the use of HungerBox Technology. No other player in the market has been able to provide such benefits across the eco-system with such efficiency.
Your focus remains B2B catering to corporate customers. Why not B2C?
Business opportunities in India are large and all manner of businesses are being set up every day. These businesses have a growing workforce. All corporates have suppliers for food; hence the demand already exists in the market. The missing component in the market has been a platform which can connect suppliers to corporate clients and hence add significant value in the entire B2B food value chain. We want to build a business with profitable economics in a quick time and want to avoid the cash guzzler B2C segment. We are very confident that we would be India's biggest food-tech company in terms of orders by the end of this year surpassing all the B2C counterparts.
How do you manage 100+ digital cafeterias? Is there an online tie-up with these companies or you deliver them directly?
The core to our offering is technology which plays a central role in providing value to all the stakeholders. HungerBox's technology platform connects the Food Vendors, Corporate Employees and the Company Administration in real time, through a customised employee app tailor-made for the respective corporate. HungerBox leverages latest technology advancements like IoT to connect the vendor side hardware (designed by HungerBox) and the employees, to communicate in real-time. It also provides features like personalized recommendations to employees through its AI driven technology setup, health mode for the health conscious employees etc., among other features. The other offerings include running a fully compliant cafeteria for the corporate, while curating food vendors for the corporate. Before HungerBox, the entire eco-system had no platform to bring all the stakeholders (the employees, the food vendors & the corporate) together. It was an extremely long and arduous process for the employees to get their food without any tech whatsoever.
What’s an average order for a month?
We deliver 1.2L orders every day and would be doing about 3L orders per day by the end of this year.
How many clients are there on board? What’s the plan?
As of right now we have 70+ clients for whom we are running 110+ digital cafeterias. The plan is to triple this by the end of this year with contracts that are already signed and ready for execution
You recently raised $2.5 million in Series A. Where can we see that money being invested?
The recent round raised would be utilized to scale the business into new cities by having active presence in all the major cities. The funds would also be utilized for the necessary infrastructure to scale this business to the 3L orders per day mark.
What’s the whole idea for having 50 different payment methods?
We have users from different segments, different cities and lifestyle choices on our platform. To make sure that we have covered the requirements for all our corporate employees we have all the payment options that are available for the users.
Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan mentioned Hunger box as having the best end to end solutions for the employees and the clients. What do you want to say on this? Which company remains your top client?
We are extremely glad that we have the backing of a visionary like Kris Gopalakrishnan for our business. We have several marquee brands like Accenture, Capgemini, Genpact, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Mercedes-Benz, British Telecom, Lowe's, Firstsource, to name a few.
What’s your say on the growth of B2B online F&B sector?
The B2B Food Tech space was an untapped market till HungerBox entered, creating a sweet spot for itself. With the growing employment rates in India, this industry is bound to grow at an astounding rate with a larger workforce being inducted into the Private sector every year.
What’s your expansion plan?
Our plan is to expand our business in Bengaluru even further, while increasing our reach in cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi/ NCR, Kolkata, Chennai and other cities where our clients want us to operate.