Sometimes even meat lovers cringe at the thought of buying their meat from a nearby butcher’s stall. We all know it is not the most pleasant experience, and Gurgaon-based startup ZappFresh decided to do something about it.
Deepanshu Manchanda and Shruti Gochhwal built an online portal where people can order different kinds of meat, packaged aesthetically, and delivered to their doorsteps. The first impression that comes to mind is that it is similar to the meat sold by Godrej, Sumeru or Venky’s, but the startup sells fresh meat procured from partnering farms in and around the city.
Back in the past
Deepanshu, who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur and hardcore foodie, spent most of the last decade either working on or working with startups. He founded an education venture before opening an organic bakery called Cho’o’Leaf in Delhi. He eventually joined MobiKwik in 2013, where he spent the last two years, before the entrepreneurship bug bit him again.
“As a failed entrepreneur, you learn what you shouldn’t do, rather than what you should do. I learnt that the market was not ready for very niche products like the organic bakery that I had started. This time, I wanted something not-so-niche, and started researching on it,” said Deepanshu.
Shruti, an engineering graduate from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (Delhi University), started her own line of ethnic clothes a few years ago. She had to shut shop because of some health issues, and now she’s back in action with ZappFresh. Shruti spent some time at MobiKwik, where she met Deepanshu.
“I am a big foodie, and I’ve eaten in almost every restaurant in Delhi. To be honest, I was getting a little tired of eating out, when I stumbled across this little meat shop near my house that sold half-cooked food like sheek kababs etc. It was very tasty, plus it gave me the satisfaction that I am cooking something,” said Deepanshu.
He noticed that there were not many stores like these, and decided to start a meat shop. The only difference was there was no shop – and everything was online.
Deepanshu, along with Shruti, launched ZappFresh earlier this month.
What’s so special?
"I could have started a retail store but I didn't want to. I didn't want to compete with local stores, and I wanted to create a professional meat-shopping experience. Just as easy as online shopping," added Deepanshu.
ZappFresh is all about fresh high quality meat. They source their meat from meat farms around Gurgaon, where they periodically conduct quality checks and regular inspections to maintain high quality.
It is a meat-lovers' dream come true. Customers can choose from a range of over 40 different items, including whole chicken, mutton and pork, exotic meats like quail, turkey and duck, and pre-cooked items like, kababs, chicken popcorn, marinated barbecue pieces and various cold cuts like ham, sausages and salami.
The mobile app will be launched soon. Until then, customers can place their order by calling them or texting the order on Whatsapp (Meatline number: 9015553322). The meat is packaged using interesting wrappers, designed in-house, with little notes on them, before it is delivered to the consumer. The startup currently outsources the delivery to a hyperlocal logistics company.
Meat shops as a business
“The meat space is completely empty. The largest players are usually for B2B and export. They are rarely available for B2C consumption. We identified this huge gap, and today, we are overwhelmed with the number of orders we get in a day,” said Deepanshu, adding that ZappFresh gets at least 30 orders per day.
According to the research material gathered by him, the meat market is estimated at INR 110,000 crores, with a CAGR of 18 percent over the last three years. The average spend on meat by a three member family is approximately INR 2,500 every month. This is a huge untapped market, and there are also other players trying to get a chunk of it.
Meat ecosystem: online vs offline
The other day, I bumped into a hardcore technology entrepreneur Fathima Batcha, who mentioned that her previous startup was a meat store in Chennai. It took me by surprise, because I did not expect a computer science graduate from Carnegie Mellon University to venture into the meat business.
“When we started there was no place in Chennai where we could purchase meat that was truly hygienic. Several compromises were done in the existing meat stores affecting the quality and hygiene of the meat. I even spent a lot of time at the veterinary college nearby to understand more about animal meat, and how best to preserve it,” said Fathima, Founder of BatchaBai, which has both, offline and online ordering facilities.
Though online-only startups are starting to offer meat delivery as a service, Fathima reasons out why she chose to have both.
“Our initial plan was to have only an online-only store. However, statistics show that multi-channel models are what work. And this being a food product, we wanted to showcase our products to our customers in a place where our customers would be able to see the difference [between us and other meat shops]. Once they trust us, they follow up with online and phone orders,” added Fathima.
Glimpse into the future
Solely online or offline doesn’t matter, it all seems to be working just fine for both ZappFresh and BatchaBai.
“The demand is driving us crazy because it is a virgin market, but we don’t compromise on quality. We are so serious about the quality that we might even consider breeding our own animals in a farm soon,” said Deepanshu.