300+ regular customers in Gurgaon within the first few months of operationVegetables are one of the most mismanaged resources in India. About 30 percent of fruit and vegetable production goes to waste in India, according to a recent report. In fact, India’s wastage of vegetables and fruits is said to be more than their consumption in some countries. Combine this with the urban professional’s lack of time to pick up fresh vegetable & fruit supplies for the household and one can see a clear need waiting to be served through technology-based intervention.
Farm2Kitchen, currently operational only in Gurgaon, is one such business idea. Jubin Mehta from YourStory caught up with entrepreneur Seema Dholi to know more about the business idea behind Farm2Kitchen, an online store for fruits and vegetables.
Seema, how did the business idea for Farm2Kitchen come about?
About 3 years back, when I was pregnant, I faced a lot of issues because I live in a nuclear family where both my husband and I were working. I wanted someone to bring home quality fruits and veggies during my pregnancy and couldn't rely on anyone for that.
Through this experience came the idea of making life of working women (and women in general) a bit easy with this concept of an online portal for vegetables and fruits. Most of the working couples in Gurgaon (and other metro cities in India) hardly get any time for each other, due to their hectic work schedule. And they don’t prefer spending most of the time they get for themselves for activities like grocery shopping.
Farm2Kitchen was launched to help these people, to help people with busy lifestyles. I wanted to help women improve the quality of their lives!
When did you start Farm2Kitchen? What’s your approach to the market?
We started in February 2011. But now, the customer base is increasing and we do a good amount of business each day. We started small. We might even stay small. But the focus we put on our customers, quality and service will be always big and we will strive hard to keep our customers happy every time they do business with us. Service is not a department but an attitude for everyone working at Farm2Kitchen.
How big is the Farm2Kitchen team? Tell us a bit about your background.
My team, which looks after the day-to-day operations of the company, is relatively small as at the moment we are catering to Gurgaon City only.
I have been working in various capacities since the last 10 years and have good experience of sourcing and management. In order to differentiate Farm2Kitchen from others, my focus in the coming years is going to be about how much of innovation there is in the procurement & delivery processes, methodology and our business model. We’re doing one of the oldest business (of selling vegetables and fruits) on earth. But we want to do it in a completely different way!
How many users have registered with Farm2Kitchen?
At the moment, we have about 300+ users who are our customers and given the fact that we started in February, that is a good number of customers for a business like ours. We target to have 1000+ customers in Gurgaon city alone by the end of February 2012. If we expand in other cities in India by then, the number of customers will be quite higher for sure.
What is your revenue model?
Our major source of revenue is from the services business of delivering fresh vegetables and fruits to our customers at their doorsteps. We procure all the produce from farmer’s market every morning. This makes sure that the customers get fresh produce every time they order with us. Procuring directly from farmer’s market also reduces any intermediate costs and we make sure that the produce we procure is of the best quality.
By when do you plan to expand to other cities?
We are working on refining the business model and as soon as we are done with that, we would like to expand in other cities in India. We have already been approached by a few people from other metros, people who are keen to partner with us.
We understand that there’s an environmental friendliness angle to your business. Can you throw some light on that?
At Farm2Kitchen, we take uttermost care of the environment. We use e-bikes (electric bikes) for delivery. This makes sure that we limit the pollution and help the cause of making our cities pollution free. We try to minimize our wastage by meticulously planning our demand and supply. As we come to know about the order details some hours before we actually start the deliveries for a particular day, the wastage is kept to a minimum.
You’ve gotten on to the ‘social commerce’ bandwagon. How is that panning out? What are your other differentiators?
We are the first e-commerce company (in India as well as globally) dealing in fresh farm produce to use social shopping for consumers. We have set up a shop on Facebook (www.facebook.com/farm2kitchen) and our customers can place their orders while they are talking to their friends in Facebook.
We believe that ‘social commerce’ is the next big thing and we want to use it for improving quality of life for Indians. We are also catering to special needs of women with product categories like ‘Pregnancy Special’ and ‘Automatic Delivery’. We have seen the inability of the bigger outlets to supply quality produce that meets the high standards that customers expect and quality is the driving factor why people shop from Farm2Kitchen. We are soon going to start selling organic produce as well, on our portal.