Monday, February 22, 2016

QSR startup Charcoal Biryani raises seed funding of $150,000 from Lion Ventures and Coverfox founders

21 FEBRUARY 2016


Full-stack quick-service restaurant (QSR) venture Charcoal Biryani has raised a seed round of $150,000 led by LionVentures and from HNIs – Varun Dua, CEO of Coverfox, and Devendra Rane, CTO of Coverfox. Co-promoted by Anurag Mehrotra and Krishnakant Thakur from LionVentures, Mohammed Bhol, Mikhail Shahani and Gautam Singh, it started operations in Mumbai last September.
With this round of funding, the team is aiming to develop its technology for expansion. The company plans to scale it up to other cities like Bengaluru, Pune and NCR and become a pan-India brand and also add more products to its pipeline.
According to Varun of Coverfox, though it is a challenge to maintain consistency of food on a large scale in the QSR segment, Charcoal Biryani seems to have cracked it. “Also it has a strong product at its nucleus that is enabled by in-house technology,” he adds.
Amit Tambre, senior lawyer and investor in Charcoal Biryani, says that the team has covered all possible pain points in terms of scale, consistency and also has a strong focus on customer service.
Key members of the team include Rohit Mehrotra, Rohan Mehrotra and Areez Patel. Since inception, the company claims to have seen 15x growth in its daily average volumes, served 30,000 customers and has an impressive rate of 30-percent repeat orders.

YourStory take
The QSR model for different kinds of food is fast picking up. However, any company in the segment needs to crack the Domino’s model, to break into a large market. While there were talks of a slowdown in investments in the foodtech and food delivery space, the past two months of the new year have already seen three investments, apart from Charcoal Biryani. These include Freshmenu, WIMI and B9 Beverages, and Swiggy.
Indian consumers, especially those in the metros, are increasingly relying on ‘non-home cooked’ food, which has given rise to the new crop of foodtech startups, offering everything from fresh meals prepared by home chefs to home-delivered ready-to-cook ingredients, apart from doing restaurant deliveries.
However, the second-half of 2015 taught some lessons to the industry. With TinyOwl scaling back operations, Spoonjoy and few other startups shutting down, it is clear that these startups need to show that growth can be sustained at a lower burn.

Food-tech startup First Eat raises $200K in seed investment

Feb 21, 2016

The startup offers healthy meals on demand and on subscription basis in Gurgaon. Food­tech startup First Eat, run by F. E. Food Tech Pvt Ltd, has raised $200,000 (around Rs. 1.4 crore) in seed investment from an undisclosed serial investor, who is an F&B entrepreneur in Gurgaon.

The new capital will be used to expand operations in the NCR region, increase traction on the app, and also build the technology platform, Mannat Wadehra, co­founder, First Eat told

First Eat offers standardised and affordable healthy meals through its app, on both on-demand and subscription basis. The app allows users to choose meals according to their health requirements. The startup is currently functional only in Gurgaon.

The startup was founded by Saikat Bagchi, Shitiz Dogra, Mannat Wadehra and Rishabh Tickoo, and launched operations in November last year. Bagchi, Dogra, and Tickoo are alumni of MICA Ahmedabad, while Wadehra is from Great Lakes Institute of Management. Prior to founding the Startup, Bagchi worked with AbsolutData in the analytics and consumer insights sector, while Dogra worked at ONGC. Wadehra has previously worked in HCL and Infosys, while Tickoo has worked with InstaLabs and Global Delight.

The app has been downloaded 5000 times, and the startup claims to serve 80-­100 meals daily, with a repeat order rate of 77 per cent. The company is aiming to serve 400­-500 meals daily by next quarter.
“Our proposition is fairly simple; know what you need, have what you need and let us take care of it,” said Wadehra.

In the healthy meals delivery space, InnerChef Pvt Ltd, a ready ­to ­cook meals delivery startup floated by GSF Accelerator’s Rajesh Sawhney, has raised Rs 11 crore ($1.6 million) in pre­-Series A funding from Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Redbus co­founder Phanindra Sama,’s Anupam Mittal and other tech investors. Other players include Faasos and Bite Club.

According to some estimates, about half of the food­tech firms operating in India started in the last one year. As per VCCEdge, 19 food­tech startups have raised about $160 million in venture capital funding so far in 2015. Only five companies managed to raise money twice. However, the food­tech industry is also witnessing tough times, with startups TinyOwl and Zomato laying off people, and others like Dazo and Eatlo shutting down.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Food Tech Troubles: shuts shop in Noida and Delhi, axes 20 jobs

Feb 16, 2016
Varun Arora


Gurgaon-based Fingertip Foods Pvt Ltd, which runs online meal service startup, has closed its operations in Noida and Delhi, laying off 20 employees in the process.

The company will now focus on its operations in Gurgaon, where it will now aim to deliver orders within 30 minutes, against the earlier norm of one hour, Badal Goel, founder and CEO, told

According to Badal, it is difficult to run operations in three cities simultaneously when the company is going through a process change.

“It is a big process change and it is difficult to run operations in three cities simultaneously. We realised delivery is something we need to work on and we need to open more kitchens. When there is a big change, it is wastage of money, wastage of resources to operate in multiple locations,” Goel said.

“We realised that earlier we were promising one hour delivery time and one hour is too long. We realised we can’t ask customers to wait for that long and now we are working on the delivery time,” Goel said. “Earlier in Gurgaon, we had only one kitchen but now we will have multiple kitchens to bring down delivery time to 30 minutes.”

GrowX seed funds TableHero with $1M

February 16, 2016
Arti Singh

Burrp founder Deap Ubhi is one of the TableHero founders.

TableHero Technologies Pvt Ltd, which helps restaurants and hyperlocal businesses manage
their online presence, has secured $1 million (around Rs 6.82 crore) in seed funding led by Delhi ­based early ­stage investment firm GrowX Ventures.
The funding round also saw participation from FreeCharge founders Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon, IVFA partner and ex­ CEO of Network 18, Haresh Chawla, Powai Lake Ventures and equity crowdfunding platform Globevestor.
The money raised will be used for developing TableHero’s suite of tools, besides bolstering its engineering and product design teams, the startup said in a statement. “Our goal is to re­imagine the small local business technology stack in a way that makes technology invisible for small local business owners. The first product in this stack will be an intelligence ­driven, one ­click website maker for restaurants,” said Deap Ubhi, co ­founder and CEO, TableHero.
Ubhi, a serial entrepreneur who founded restaurant listings and review platform Burrp, served as FreeCharge’s COO when it was sold to Snapdeal last year. TableHero will initially launch its services in the US and target restaurants. It will focus on cities such as Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Founded in 2014 by Deap Ubhi, Chetan Vaity, and Aman Prakash Mohla, TableHero claims
to build intelligent OS that simplifies website and digital presence management; reservations, bookings and appointments; and payments, loyalty and customer management. Other co­founders, Chetan Vaity and Aman Prakash Mohla, were part of the core engineering team at FreeCharge.
Sheetal Bahl, CEO, growX ventures, said, “We're investing in TableHero, above all, for the team. Deap is a star ­ he created Burrp, which we loved as consumers; ran Freecharge in a tough growth period, and; is one of the best product guys ever to have worked in India. And he's put together an amazing set of people to create a technology stack which has the potential to disrupt the long ­standing hegemony of the incumbents in the F&B tech space across geographies."
growX has invested in about 18 companies since its inception two ­and ­a ­half years ago, including Claro Energy, Mad Street Den, Quandl, and among others. In December 2015, growX invested in smart network layer platform i2e1. Bite Club, an online marketplace for chefs, raised an undisclosed amount in pre­ Series A funding from growX ventures.
Last year in August, Bangalore ­based Qyk Inc, which runs mobile marketplace for local services Qyk, secured $1 million in pre­Series A funding led by growX ventures.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Iconic Iyengars’ Bakery goes online

Feb 15, 2016
K.V.Aditya Bharadwaj
Source: The Hindu

 A screenshot of the new website

H.R. Sridhar, founder (centre), with his sons Raman (left) and Lakshmeesha in front of Iyengars’ Bakery at Austin Town in Bengaluru.— Photo: By Special Arrangement

H.R. Sridhar, founder (centre), with his sons Raman (left) and Lakshmeesha in front of Iyengars’ Bakery at Austin Town in Bengaluru.— Photo: By Special Arrangement

In the era of online shopping, why should that distinct, traditional evening snack of ‘aloo bun’ and ‘nippattu’ stay away from online delivery?

Not anymore. You can now order your ‘aloo bun’ online and get it home delivered from the iconic Bengaluru brand — Iyengars’ Bakery.

While there are several such bakeries in the city, Iyengars’ Bakery was one of the first to be started in 1981 in Austin Town. The bakery, which has patented the trade name, has now expanded with e-commerce service with

Lakshmeesha, an engineer by training and second generation baker, and son of H.R. Sridhar, who started the bakery, is the man ushering in the change. Presently, the firm is delivering its products in 75 localities across the city for a minimum order of Rs. 200. The delivery charge is Rs. 30 for all purchases between Rs. 200 and Rs. 500, and free for orders above Rs. 500.

Mr. Lakshmeesha told The Hindu that on an average, they get 10 to 12 orders a day and it fluctuates depending on holidays, seasonal variations, and festivals. “The prices of our products are lower compared to other products being traded online. To make home delivery viable is the biggest challenge, which has forced us to take relatively large orders online,” he said.

The firm is now working to rope in other Iyengars’ bakeries in the city, to offer their products on the e-commerce platform. “Almost every area has an Iyengars’ Bakery today and we have identified around 100. This would be a formidable pan-city network to take on the might of the onslaught of processed foods and the new entrants,” Mr. Lakshmeesha said.

Talks with at least 20 such bakeries are under way, but the challenge is to bring a diverse set of players to agree on common terms, he said

Restaurant deals & events aggregator GoYaNo raises angel funding

GoYaNo's profile photo
Feb 15, 2016
Varun Arora

GoYaNo, an online marketplace for discovering events and restaurant deals, has raised around $50,000 (Rs 35 lakhs) in seed funding from founder Mukesh Kumar Gupta.

The startup will use the money raised to develop new products and expand its business, Nitin Sharma, co-founder of GoYaNo, told

GoYaNo, run by New Delhi-based GoYaNo Pvt Ltd, is a marketplace that enables restaurants, artists and event managers to list events and offers. It functions like a social platform where users can interact with their favorite restaurants and artists to form like-minded communities.

“The vision is to bring the entire events and food ecosystem under one social platform,” Sharma said.

The GoYaNo app was launched in December 2015. The company was started by Sharma and Gaurav Singh.  Both co-founders worked at Snapdeal and Sun Life Financial, before starting up.

The company is currently operational in Delhi and NCR. It claims to have tie ups with about 300 premium properties in the region and has facilitated restaurant and event deals for about 3,000 users, Sharma said. Customers can access the platform through the startup’s website and Android app.

GoYaNo wants to be present in six cities and cater to about 250,000 users by the current-year end, he added.

The company is in talks with angel networks and VC firms to close another round of funding.

GoYaNo would largely compete with horizontal deal aggregators (such as Little, Perksmap, Groupon, Zerch and others) and nightlife planning apps (such as OUWT,FNB City Media, Happitoo and others).

Little Internet Pvt Ltd, which owns the deals discovery app Little, recently raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pvt Ltd.

Mumbai-based Yagerbomb Media Pvt Ltd, which operates nightlife discovery platform OUWT, had secured $150,000 (around Rs 1 crore) from a group of undisclosed angel investors.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Zomato chief product officer Tanmay Saksena quits

February 9, 2016
Binu Paul

Tanmay Saksena
Restaurant listings and services startup Zomato’s chief product officer Tanmay Saksena has quit in yet another senior-level exit at the company.

Saksena was promoted as chief product officer last month and just completed a year at Zomato, the Mint reported, citing a company spokesperson. He was the global business head for Zomato’s food-ordering business before becoming the product chief.

An email to the company seeking comment didn’t elicit any response till the time of filing this report. Saksena couldn’t be immediately contacted. Saksena joined Zomato in January 2015 after a four-year stint at Disney Social Games as vice president of its studio operations. He had previously worked with Unilever, Jambool, Trippert Inc. (acquired by Playdom Inc.) and Playdom Inc. (acquired by Disney Interactive).

A B.Tech graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Saksena got an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Zomato has been facing difficulties in retaining top-level staff as several senior executives have left the firm after short stints.

In September last year, senior vice president for growth Durga Raghunath abruptly quit to become the CEO of book publishing startup Juggernaut after just a five-month stint with the firm. In July, former Facebook executive Namita Gupta quit as chief product officer at Zomato after just 11 months. That followed the exit of Rameet Arora, a former McDonald’s India executive, from Zomato after just six months as chief marketing officer.

Saksena’s departure comes just as the company announced that it had achieved operational break-even in six markets including India, the UAE, the Philippines and Indonesia.

However, the past few months have been challenging for Zomato. In October, Zomato said it was laying off around 300 employees across the globe, or nearly 10 per cent of its workforce. Most layoffs happened in its content teams across 22 countries.

Also in October, co-founder Goyal wrote to the company’s sales staff indicating that Zomato might fail to meet its sales target for the current financial year.

The company also tried to attract more eyeballs by advertising on porn sites. However, the move drew criticism on social media channels, compelling Zomato to withdraw the campaign. Earlier this month, Zomato shut down its food ordering business in four cities.