The last time a conversation prompted me to start a company was just a few minutes ago; in an alternate universe, one where I can eat and never grow fat.Ms. X and Ms. Y (yep, they asked to be called that!) had a similar conversation, where they actually did end up starting their own company; it wasn’t in an alternate universe.
They started Mealboat.com, a ‘lifeboat for meals’ that brings together home-cooks on a platform where they can sell their delicacies to those craving for home-cooked food.
I’m pretty sure you’ve realized that ‘home-cooked’ was the end game here. “After a long day at work, we often joked about having a food genie who would cook up anything we wanted. On the other hand, we came across many people who were passionate about cooking and wanted to start cafés, catering services or somehow follow their food dreams,” says X.
How does it work?The website is quite easy to work around; if you’re looking for food all you need to do is choose a chef based on the cuisine they serve or the location they operate in, place the order and then either wait for the food to be delivered or go and pick it up yourselves. If you’re a home-cook looking to sell his/her wares, just sign-up and wait till either X or Y get in touch with you.
“We launched about two months back and since then things have been moving faster than we expected. The responses from both -- the chefs and the users -- have been overwhelming. We’ve hosted 20 chefs, and have around 70 in the pipeline,” reveals X.
Fun Fact: The site currently hosts only two-three men. What if I want ‘Papa ke haath ka khana’?
As of now, the initiative has only been banking on word-of-mouth, Facebook posts and friends and family for business. On the other hand, the duo is spending this time to tweak their work model and deal with some of the challenges that have come their way. “We have to deal with multiple variations of working models since the home cook industry is largely unorganized. We’ve been trying to understand their hurdles and are slowly providing generic solutions,” explains X.
The charm of mealboat.com lies in innate desire for a good home-cooked meal. The portal offers a variety of cuisines to serve a variety of people on the days they’d like some comfort food, or if they’re throwing a party. “We also plan to introduce host chefs who will provide daily lunches and dinners, soon,” states X. Home cooks, according to X, are excited with the prospect of having a page on a portal dedicated to them. A review system is planned for the users to rate the food and the experience with the cooks. This adds to the excitement and the drive to be at the top.
Future plansThe focus for mealboat.com, for now, is to build a database of home chefs to cover a substantial portion of Bangalore before they turn to luring traffic onboard. “We want to get our hands dirty, understand the system, the challenges and the technology,” says X. “We are constantly consulting with experts to make the right decisions. We should see an incremental growth story spanning across a few months, that’s the time we would like to speak with investors,” she adds. Their revenue model for now is a transactional and subscription based one.
“We initially plan to make it work in Bangalore so we can understand the market, the users and the challenges before we decide to scale to other cities in India,” explains X. “Right now we’re just trying to focus on juggling a corporate job and this at the same time! Ideally we would have liked to put away some money before starting out, but the idea just came around and we started. Things have been moving really fast since then,” signs off X.
Find a bite on mealboat.com, here.
This story is a part of the ‘F&B Entrepreneurs’ series presented in association with ‘Chilli Paneer – A DBS Production'.