The concept of food-on-fly (via web or phone) picked up steam in India in the last five years. The startup ecosystem witnessed the debut of startups like Justeat.in, Tastykhana and Foodpanda among others evangelizing the food delivery space. However, the first effort was made by Meals on Wheels, a Mumbai-based startup way back in 1997.
Unlike the above new startups, Meals on Wheels restricted itself to Mumbai and couldn’t scale to other cities. However, it is now geared for expansion after its acquisition by Rishi Khiani led incubator, Ant Farm. Ant Farm acquired Meals on Wheels to the tune of $2 million, and launched a redesigned website.
The new service enables a user-friendly and efficient interface for discovery and order placing. It also facilitates saving of favourite restaurants and dishes, view past orders and get relevant recommendations.
At present, Meals on Wheels provides delivery from the most popular restaurants in South Mumbai with a serviceable area from Cuffe Parade to Worli. As the first phase of the planned national expansion campaign, Ant Farm will scale logistics which will enable it to have coverage throughout Mumbai first and then expand to Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
Following the acquisition, Meals on Wheels Founder Sunil Saraf will take on a senior management role in the growth and expansion of the business.
Rishi Khiani, MD & CEO, Ant Farm, said, “Essential services like delivery are increasingly becoming important for the time-strapped consumer in metropolitan India. This acquisition is the first step for Ant Farm to disrupt the local delivery service business through smart technology. Meals on Wheels already has successful partnerships, a robust active user base, and a critical mass of orders-per-day. I believe we have the wherewithal, combined with the domain expertise of Meals on Wheels to transform this industry.”
To oversee and manage business operations of Meals on Wheels, Ant Farm has roped in Sandeep Das, formerly the COO and Head of Business at Burrp and AskMe. Sandeep comes with 15 years of experience in the digital and offline space. “The acquisition of Meals on Wheels brings forward exciting synergies for Ant Farm to disrupt a burgeoning market segment. With my experience of local/classified, food and lifestyle digital businesses, I am looking forward to leading an aggressive expansion and launching digital innovations in this space to gain a leadership position nationally,” said Sandeep.
Founded in 2012, Ant Farm is a digital media and internet company, which follows a unique approach in jumpstarting successful businesses by putting together unique cross-functional teams led by industry veterans and entrepreneurs that work on business opportunities identified internally. Earlier this year, it raised a round from prominent angel investors, including Sanjay Kalra, the former CEO of Tech Mahindra, among others.