Hungry Kya? goGrab se kha

11th Dec 2012
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The recent activity in the quick service restaurant segment (QSR) in India makes it an attractive space for new players. Funding news of Ammi’s Biryani, Mast Kalandar, and Poncho have brought in more cheer. As per a National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) report published in June 2012, QSR is a Rs 43,000 crore market and growing at the rate of 5% - 6% per annum. Of this pie, the organized sector comprises Rs 8,500 crore and is growing at a rate of 20% - 25% per annum.

Apart from QSR, businesses like home delivery and the takeaway, developing on the fringe of the QSR segment, is quite heartening as well. It is this niche space that goGrab wishes to make big a mark in. goGrab is an online restaurant aggregator. The site aggregates information about restaurants and provides service of these restaurants online. Customers can access their favorite restaurants menu card, order food for door delivery and take away online.

Ganesh Raj Mohan Parimelazhagan, founder, goGrab, comes from a farming background. And during the many hours that he spent studying for exams at his farm he learnt the importance of having a purpose in life, and attributes the lesson to Mother Nature. Before Parimelazhagan turned entrepreneur, he was with PayPal and one of the 8 enterprise architects at PayPal across the globe. He played a key role in re-engineering the financial instruments domain for PayPal. Parimelazhagan was also instrumental in starting MadLabs at PayPal Chennai — an innovation engine that could power the internal folks to ideate and innovate. His experience of turning ideas into products, pitching these ideas to senior management, getting them funded and finally creating the product was very satisfying. “The one thing which helped me develop this entrepreneurial perspective was the period I was in. No FB. No Twitter. No LinkedIn. In fact, no Gmail either. It was only Yahoo!, Hotmail and Rediff. So, the time I spent in office was to learn, work, learn and work,” says Parimelazhagan.

When Parimelazhagan quit Covansys and joined CSS Corp, he was the first employee of its new wing CSS Labs — the technology incubation arm of CSS. It was here that he was exposed to the geek community in Chennai and decided to start something on his own.

Besides Parimelazhagan, other key members of his team include, Prabhu, co-founder — who joined from CSS Labs and is a specialist in cloud computing space and handles AWS offerings. Karthik who looks after marketing and sales, has joined from Shaans Kitchen. goGrab.in also has an advisory team who give assistance on strategy and execution. This includes, Manikhandan Venugopal, COO of Alphavista Services Inc, Rajah R.L, a marketing guru, who was earlier with Diageo and now has his own company Geoscope Exim and finally C.K. Thomas, co-founder CSS Corp, who advises goGrab on strategy and market trends

As a lesson learnt from his PayPal days, Ganesh believes and practices 'eating your own dog food'. By the time they started, inventory based ecommerce was spilling all over, the ‘deals’ space was already crowded; whereas the space goGrab operates in which still small. “Zomato was the only known name across India and they too were only into discovery. JustEat.in was primarily in Bangalore and few other cities, but not the market leader. So, there was a lot of room for being in Top 3 and also grab a decent market share,” adds Parimelazhagan.

Today over 1000 orders have been placed through goGrab, it has more that 500 paying customers and 45-plus top restaurants chains have signed up in Chennai. Nevertheless, there continues to be many challenges for the startup. Parimelazhagan explains, “Your one end of the consumer is a tech savvy guy who orders online and the other end is a school drop-out who just knows to listen to the order on phone and prepare food.” goGrab did four months of market research, besides spending time inside kitchen of restaurants that run at 150% of capacity, during peak & non-peak hours. Taking all the lessons into account, goGrab developed a proprietary technology which Parimelazhagan says is the key success factor of goGrab.

Parimelazhagan defines achievements as “things they did right”, and counts goGrab’s launch with big names (in Chennai) like Sangeetha Veg, Kaaraikudi and The Dhaba, which took care of most fast moving cuisines. Secondly, they chose to start in an area in Chennai which had 60% of their target audience. Thirdly, they started small, with just three outlets — which helped them face the initial bottlenecks and iron them out. These steps, he claims, have helped them gain their current market position.

Hungry? Order something via goGrab!

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