Your app-based milkman: Doodhwala is digitising milk deliveryVallabh Rao
The Bengaluru-based dairy and grocery delivery startup wants to make milk delivery easy, and having added more products, has expanded to Pune.
Late one night in 2014, Aakash Agarwal and Ebrahim Akbari were working on a business project, fuelling their minds with cereal, but soon found themselves out of milk. Those were the days when Bengaluru had a new app cropping up for everything — food, laundry service, dating, personal errands, groceries — but that night they found, much to their chagrin, that there was no app dedicated to milk. This accidental discovery was the birth of a startup idea.
Around 4 am, they went around the city to understand what the milk supply market was like. After weeks of research and surveys, they launched a beta version to test the market. They received a promising response and were convinced that people not just wanted, but needed, Doodhwala. What people were looking for were better ways to find good-quality unadulterated farm milk delivered by a non-traditional ‘doodhwala’ (milkman in Hindi), who could be accessible as opposed to a regular milkman, with whom options are limited. In a nutshell, they wanted a punctual, cost-effective, non-traditional option. On the basis of these findings, they laid the foundation for Doodhwala.
Doodhwala’s Founders Ebrahim and Aakash come from a heavy infrastructure industry background. Aakash, in 2010, co-founded a steel fabrication company in Odisha. Ebrahim was heading his family business of industrial field supplies in Oman and Dubai. Aakash and Ebrahim started their careers as entrepreneurs and showed their mettle in the heavy infrastructure industry.
Doodhwala was founded in 2015 and is progressing steadily with a 25 percent month-on-month growth rate, according to the team. The startup has expanded operations to Pune while other cities are in the pipeline. The team is 60 people strong now. Doodhwala also claims to serve over 6,000 customers every month, completing over 1,00,000 monthly deliveries. It has 80 percent customer retention, and the figure is expected to increase in the next few months. Doodhwala hopes to be operationally profitable by the end of 2017.
“Doodhwala is the first in Bengaluru and Pune (fresh milk operations in Pune start in a week) to bring fresh farm milk directly to customers. We have exclusive tie-ups with organic milk suppliers. No one out there specialises in delivering a variety of fresh farm milk,” says Ebrahim. “We, additionally, have over 70 varieties of store milk and a range of essential groceries that consumers need daily or very often such as yoghurt, organic paneer, eggs, bread, cheese, batters, fresh vegetable juices, smoothies, meat, vegetables, fruits, and other shelf-stable items.” Customers receive their orders before 7 am, which means the milk and groceries they get are fresh. All the products are at sold at/below MRP, with no delivery charges being charged to the customer.
Doodhwala has raised an undisclosed amount from investor Tom Varkey, a partner at Stonehill Capital, USA, and will use the funding to upgrade its technology, further penetrate the market, and grow its team size.
“Their unit economics are healthy, as they have an impressive delivery infrastructure with a 25 percent month-on-month growth rate. By lowering its delivery costs to Rs 3–5, Doodhwala is uniquely positioned in a sector where lots of e-commerce players are struggling,” Tom Varkey had shared in a release.