In an interaction with Restaurant India, Mohammed Jamal Ismail, Founder & CEO at Watscooking.com shares, how are they catering to their customers when platform like Dazo has already shut their operations.
How is the response so far?
There has been a tremendous response shown by both the end users and the home chefs since our soft launch in Feb 2015. We currently have 3000 home chefs registered across India with 5500 customers. We are growing at the rate of 30 per cent month after month.
How does it work?
Watscooking.com is the world’s first and largest home food discovery platform. Food lovers can discover who is offering home cooked food around their location and place an order request directly to the home chefs.
Any aspiring home chef can create a home café and make their kitchen online in just 10 minutes. The platform provides all required features for them to manage their online kitchen. They can set their menu with photos, price, available date and time and delivery conditions. No charges for basic listing and they can choose to pay an annual subscription for special features. There are delivery options like take away, door delivery or dine in. For now the home chefs have to manage their own delivery options .We will be tying up with local delivery partners in future to provide our own delivery support.
How do you maintain your tagline of Fresh, Healthy and Delicious food?
Our quality and compliance team will ensure the quality of the food by visiting our kitchens, food tasting and the overall hygiene. Apart from the initial check while on boarding, the team will also do a periodic spot checks. If any deviations found or bad feedback received, we will delist the home café.
How difficult/easy was it to get the people order from you?
Initially we thought our biggest challenge is to build the trust factor for making people to place order but what we have found that it is not a big issue when it comes to home cooked food considering the emotional attachment of Indians towards home foods.
Most people are concerned about not able to find a home café in their neighbourhood. As the actual transaction takes place offline after a user finds and contacts the home café, the key focus is to make any user discover a home café within 500 meters.
How are you marketing it right to your customer? Who is your target?
Until now, our growth had been driven by references and word of mouth. Food is always a topic of most discussions and our satisfied customers are spreading it by word of mouth. Not to mention the excitement of home chefs who found a new source of income with what they love to do. They make others sign up by spreading the word.
In terms of end customers, our target is working couples, elderly people and students.
Do you serve special menus at the times of festivals seasons?
We have a feature called festival specials in the dish menu setup. Home Chefs can select this option on special dishes during festivals like Diwali sweets, Eid Biryani etc which will be highlighted during the festive seasons.
What was your initial funding? Are you planning for fund raising?
Currently we are bootstrapped with our own funding. We haven’t started our revenues yet as we aim bigger by building a sustainable ecosystem of home food lovers and home chefs.
As our focus is across pan India, we realized that we couldn’t support our growing customer base with our small team. Hence we recently started to look out for funds and are already in discussions with couple of seed stage firms.
What made you name the company ‘What’s cooking’?
“Whats cooking” is more generally used for something really happening and we are confident that we could make a big happening by changing the way India eats. Moreover the word is also about “Cooking”.
What is your current and target revenue?
We have three phases of revenue and in the first phase the source of revenue will be annual subscriptions paid by the home chefs. We haven’t started our revenue stream yet as we planned to enlist at least 5000 home cafes before we start our subscriptions scheme.
Food tech like Dazo has shut its operations and SpoonJoy has closed its service in Delhi. How do you find yourself balancing in the current scene?
Of late, the term “Food Tech” is most related to food delivery companies. The so called food tech companies primarily solve the logistics problem rather than the actual food problem. It is obvious that these companies cannot sustain in a long run as they operate on very thin margins and large operational costs. We will never run our own logistics and also we don’t get in to other operational burdens as other food tech companies do thereby maintaining a very low operational cost.
We use people power to drive our business growth. Our core focus is to make people to discover home cooked food in their neighbourhood and to empower the 200 million household women in India to earn from their own kitchens.