If the very thought of meals served on the train makes you shudder, here is a tempting alternative for the next time you travel. Railtiffin.com is a startup that guarantees delivery of food of your choice right at your seat.
Having traveled extensively across the country in Indian Rail, Piyush Bothra, Co-founder and CEO of Railtiffin.com, says the idea emerged from first-hand experience with food while on a long distance journey. That was when he and Harshit Jain, COO of Railtiffin.com, decided to quit their jobs and start something on their own. They knew right from the start that this was what they wanted to dabble in. Both Harshit and Piyush are management graduates from MDI Gurgaon and IIM Lucknow respectively. They had long cross-functional professional stints with exposure to multiple businesses before coming together to form Railtiffin.com.
“We felt that the market was huge as over 10 million passengers are carried by Indian Railways on a daily basis and the timing was right given the rapid spread of internet primarily through smartphones,” says Piyush. Keeping up with technology, Railtiffin.com has kept their ordering process as simple as possible allowing passengers to either book a meal on their website using the PNR number linked to their ticket or directly call on their customer service number.
With an Angel round of funding and barely five months since their official launch, Railtiffin.com has spread its reach across 150 stations and in over 3500 trains. It has got a phenomenal response so far from customers and vendors alike and is witnessing a rise in numbers with every passing day.
Dealing with train delays
Train delays are a pertinent problem they face but Railtiffin.com is not complaining. In fact, they are equipped to face it head on by continuously tracking the train schedule using tools made available by Indian Railways. They not only make sure the train delays do not affect their customer’s meal timings but also ensure minimal food wastage. For example, if a train is running late by three hours, Railtiffin.com makes sure the meal is rescheduled to be delivered to the customers at an earlier station thereby ensuring they get their food almost at the desired time. Railtiffin.com credits its expansive network of vendors across more than 150 stations with being able to deal with train delays.
Keeping up with demands
Having tapped a market that vendors seem to have missed out themselves gives Railtiffin.com an added advantage. Vendors now see them as an important partner bringing in a valuable set of customers that they cannot afford to overlook anymore. In return, Railtiffin.com ensures that the operations are smooth by providing quality information about the train schedules to vendors which ensures minimal wastage of time and food. This strategy in turn is a win-win situation for Railtiffin.com because it ensures guaranteed delivery and at the same time, the meal is served hot and fresh to customers. Harshit accredits the successful execution of daily operations at Railtiffin.com to his team of 15 that deftly handles everything ranging from customer service, vendor management to IT and marketing.
Plans for the future
Focus on digital and social marketing is part of Railtiffin’s future marketing strategy. Integrating a feedback and rating mechanism into their website and the mobile app will ensure that the vendors who perform better are rewarded. Harshit adds, “We see Railtiffin.com emerging as a trusted partner for any needs a train traveler may have in his journey. This is a very nascent space and the penetration of online food ordering sites in this space is not even 0.01 per cent. We expect this to emerge as the preferred model for getting good quality food to train travelers and we expect Railtiffin.com to be at the forefront of this transformation. It is just the beginning and we have a long way to go.
Different from the rest
With competitors like TravelKhana.com and Comesum, Railtiffin.com is probably the first and only company in this space that offers guaranteed delivery of food. While the core model remains the same, the differentiation comes from their approach towards customer satisfaction and smooth operations. Railtiffin.com also boasts of having only good quality vendors in their network thereby assuring food quality, hygiene, packaging and delivery. Piyush proudly says, “A train delivery is a very important logistical operation as the food needs to be delivered in a fresh and hot condition within a five minute window when the train stops at a station. This gives our customers peace of mind as they can rely on us to get their meals delivered without fail. This is just one of the many improvements/innovations we want to bring to this space.”