When hunger strikes and one is too lazy to cook up something at home or step out to grab a bite, the trusty pizza delivery service never fails. Yet, when it comes Chinese cuisine, people mostly tend to opt for dining out. In other words, the popular Chinese takeout of the West had still not found its place in India.
Happy Hakka, started by four friends and food connoisseurs Gautam Ghai, Arushi Vaish, Puneet Saini and Chander Mohan, intends to change this trend. It was initially conceptualised by Puneet Chander and Gautam. Arushi joined in immediately after.
The duo found that while there was no dearth of good Chinese food in Delhi, it was only available at restaurants that also had delivery option.
"We identified a gap in the Indian market, where there is no established delivery-centric Chinese eatery that serves good, standardised pan-Asian food at reasonable price points," says Gautam, 34.
Realising that they needed to create a differentiator from the several different food delivery services, the startup decided to focus on delivering Chinese food with the option of ordering it online, via a central hotline number or a mobile app.
Placing the order and what follows
Gautam says their vision for Happy Hakka is to make it a leading national, delivery-centric quick-service restaurant (QSR), that provides an upscale, quality experience at value price points. The mission, he adds, is to provide exotic Oriental flavour packages in an innovative format, designed for convenient consumption on the go, in offices or at homes.
The startup employs delivery route optimisation, direct integration with point-of-sale and the option of cash or card on delivery.
The meals are delivered as a complete package along with easy-to-add accompaniments, cutlery and tissues so that the customer can eat straight out of the box. "It's quick, smart and hassle-free eating, and the customer does not have to worry about utensils, cutlery or doing the dishes later," adds Gautam.
The food is preservative-free and freshly made as the orders are placed, and the flavours are standardised. "We ensure we put in tons of vegetables, and try to restrict the use of oil to the minimum required. We have some healthy soups and salads on the menu along with an option of having brown rice with your meal," says Gautam.
The dishes are priced between Rs 51 and Rs 289. The meals start at Rs 99, with a meal for two at Rs 400.
Traction and growth
Happy Hakka currently claims to serve 400 to 450 orders a day, of which 80 per cent are from existing customers. The food is prepared at a company-owned central kitchen that supplies to its outlets, which in turn deliver to customers in their assigned areas.
That has helped keep the costs down for the startup, and is among the first such operation in Delhi. The other player with a similar model is Mumbai-based Noodle Play and Charcoal Biryani. Gautam says their strategy for growth is to make ordering for food so simple that it becomes a habit.
They have designed their own delivery network with the help of SourceFuse, Gautam's other venture, a digital product and technology development organisation that helps startups and corporations launch web, mobile and social software solutions.
The startup's app is directly connected with the kitchens and when an order comes in, the restaurant can take care of it without involving any third party. Happy Hakka runs its own delivery service and has built the complete platform that allows it to take and process an order.
Team and the roles
Each team member wears a different hat, bringing diversity into the Happy Hakka's management. Gautam, has nearly 10 years of professional experience, and has previously worked as a consultant with Ernst & Young for their Risk and Business Practice Solutions.
He has also worked with Europe’s largest travel company e-bookers, UN Security Council in Geneva, and Quark Inc. Gautam graduated from SSCBS, University of Delhi in 2003 with a degree in Information Technology.
Arushi Vaish heads Expansion, Sales and Operations at Happy Hakka. Her experience in engineering for three years and the construction industry for a year has given her a headstart in expansion and operations at Happy Hakka.
Puneet spearheads Marketing and Strategy at Happy Hakka. After a brief stint in Enterprise Resource Planning, he shifted to advertising. It was at Contract Advertising in 2011, while working on a south Indian QSR chain, that he brainstormed the idea of a delivery-centric, mass-brand Chinese QSR, from which Happy Hakka was born.
Chander is the financial and operations brain behind Happy Hakka and is responsible for Financial Management and Backend Operations. He has over 10 years of experience in the operations and finance space and has also worked with Subway for three years, managing their flagship store in Noida.
Happy Hakka received seed funding of Rs 1 crore from Delhi based Ajay Relan, the managing partner of mid-to-growth stage private equity firm CX Partners. The team is looking to raise its next round soon.
They currently have five stores in Delhi and plan to have 50 stores in two years across the country. "We eventually plan to have nationwide roll-out of Happy Hakka of over 200 stores. We are focussing on geographical contiguousness—expanding in concentric circles with Delhi at the centre and launching in Jaipur, Chandigarh, Agra, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Meerut.”
If there is one brand that has truly cracked the QSR-based food delivery model on a global scale, it is Domino's Pizza. If you take a look at the figures globally, the company saw an increase of close to 750 per cent (Forbes).
The key reason for this growth hasn’t been the quality and taste of the pizzas alone; cutting-edge digital and technology strategy has played their part as well. The digital systems are so strong that it becomes easier for consumers to place, track, pay, and pick their orders. This is the case even for India. Happy Hakka will also have to get all these elements right to become as successful.