With the foodtech industry already being saturated with novel concepts, it is easy to assume there isn't room for more innovation. FoodbyMood,a food discovery app, aims to change that by letting usersfind the dish they are in the mood for. It’s a dish/food recommendation service that tells them which delicious dishes to order in a particular restaurant.
Based in Nagpur, FoodbyMood is a startup with a location-aware application and website that doesn't offer the usual restaurant-based reviews, but gives suggestions of must-try dishes with dish reviews. So, instead of ‘restaurants near you’, the app and website informs users of ‘dishes near you’. This solves the problem of selection of the right dishes in any given restaurant or hotel. But why would users need dish reviews instead of restaurant reviews?
Sangharakshak Neel, Co-founder, FoodMood, explains, “Despite going to a recommended restaurant, most people don’t know what’s best in that place. A restaurant may be good but if you ended up ordering a dish it is not best at, you will regret it.”
Back in 2013, IIT Bombay-alumnus Sangharakshak (27) felt his inner calling of entrepreneurship reigniting after he had completed one year at his job at Imagination Technologies. At that time, he also had an IIM admission call in his hand. He decided to seek the advice of his brother Dhammachintak—another IIT Bombay alumnus and IIM Ahmedabad graduate —who was then heading the product management team of CommonFloor Groups in Bengaluru. He reflected Sangharakshak's interest in starting up.
Dhammachintak says, “We went to a widely recommended seafood joint in Bengaluru and, as fate had it, ordered two really terrible dishes. We realised that if you could go so wrong at Bengaluru’s best seafood joint, you could go wrong everywhere else. And FoodbyMood was born.”
The two brothers decided to launch FoodbyMood from their hometown Nagpur. They shared the idea with two of their close friends Dheeraj Maurya and Meenal Hatmode,both B.Tech graduates from Nagpur’s Pallotti and Priyadarshini College, respectively. The four founders launched FoodbyMood on World Food Day (October 16)in 2014, and launched the Android app a year later.
“In a year, we received over 3,000 genuine reviews with over 2,000 photos from more than 500 foodies. We have close to 700 restaurants and street-food joints from Nagpur. Within two months of our app launch on the Google Play store, we received close to 400 downloads with great reviews,” says Dheeraj.
“Current solutions like Zomato, Burrp, Food Panda etc., are popular restaurant discovery/delivery products but do not address the problem. People eat food, not restaurants. So they should be rating dishes and not restaurants. Dish reviews is our core,” says Meenal.
FoodbyMood thus encourages actual foodies to write authentic reviews. “We focus on the foodies first to ensure that FoodbyMood is fun for them to review. We have a 'Foodie of the Week' award on our Facebook page. They earn 'Brownie Bites' points by rating, reviewing, and adding photos of the dishes they love,” adds Dheeraj.
“For users, we realised that the location-aware mobile app would empower them, something that none of the hyperlocal players can boast of. We made an intuitive Android app with sleek user experience. It’s state-of-the-art technology that can handle all complexities of menus idiosyncrasies and dish names with a super-fast data addition capability for extreme scalability,” adds Sangharakshak.
While foodies love the ‘foodie levels’ and free treats they receive every week, restaurants get marketing while the best dishes of the city become famous.
FoodbyMood founders currently are focussing on making their product robust. Their revenue models have several levels: as a hyper-local, targeted marketing platform for restaurant owners and food event organisers or as an ordering partner for food delivery apps like FoodPanda or as a data enhancement service for restaurant recommendation players like Zomato or location players like Google Maps.
“The Indian food services market is huge as it would touch about $70 billion in the next three years. Restaurant recommendation services are targeting only five per cent of it, namely the licensed units. The eating-out culture in India is slowly catching up. Globally, this market would be 50-60 times more at close to $4 trillion,” adds Dhammachintak.
After a successful one year at Nagpur, FoodbyMood is in the process of coming to Pune, Mumbai, and Bengaluru by March.
“We have learnt that for a great user experience, visual experiences and critical mass of data matter. We didn’t want to be another food delivery app, given the food tech wave last year. We stuck to creating value for our users. We have been proven right by the market,” says Sangharakshak.