HungerBox, a B2B-focused foodtech company, on Monday announced it had closed $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by Lionrock Capital and Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys. HungerBox also counts GrowthStory, the venture-builder platform founded by serial entrepreneurs K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, as one of its promoters.
Started in 2016, HungerBox is a full stack, food-tech company that is focussed on the B2B space. It was started by Sandipan Mitra and Uttam Kumar, both veterans in the foodtech space in India. Their previous stints include managing global food takeaway ordering service Just Eat’s India operations.
HungerBox initially started out with a B2C focus, and halted operations for a few months in 2017, to pivot into a B2B office and corporate catering platform.
HungerBox has a staff of 200 across India, and claims to operate over 100 digital cafeterias for more than 75 corporate clients including Qualcomm, Microsoft, FirstSource, Accenture, Capgemini, Genpact, ABB, Amazon, and McKinsey, across Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi NCR, and Jaipur.
HungerBox uses technology advancements like IoT in its solution to connect the vendor side hardware (designed by HungerBox) and corporate employees. The HungerBox solution also provides features like ‘Personalised Recommendations’ to employees through its AI-driven technology, ‘Health Mode’ for health-conscious employees, ability to undertake group-ordering, and orders from restaurants in the vicinity when corporate cafés are closed etc.
HungerBox notes its tech-led solution enables end-to-end digital cafeteria management with the company’s proprietary technology platform connecting food vendors to employees within client organisations through a customised mobile app available to each employee.
Using the app, employees can view the F&B menu provided by all enlisted food vendors at their workplace café, place orders, and track delivery accurately. They can also provide ratings and feedback. HungerBox’s solution provides admin teams at the client organization with the ability to track the entire F&B operation including food consumption, orders, feedback etc, in real-time.
Hungerbox noted that more than 50 different payment methods are integrated into the service, including in-app purchases by an employee, payment through smart cards, m-wallets, and self-serve kiosks at the café.
Spending on F&B in the B2B space alone is estimated to reach $14 billion in India in 2018. The sector is growing at an estimated 15 percent per annum. Hari Kumar, Founder & CEO, Lionrock Capital, believes HungerBox has the credentials to lead in this space. He said,
The B2B food space has plenty of headroom for growth and innovation for years to come. The winners in the sector will be those with a powerful, tech-led offering and the ability to scale in-step with their clients.
Sandipan, CEO and Co-Founder, HungerBox, said the business has scaled rapidly over the last 15 months with nearly seven million orders placed on the platform till date. The company claims to clock more than 120,000 daily orders, and expects to scale this to half a million per day by end-2018. Talking about their future plans and how they plan to use the capital raised, Sandipan said,
The funding we have received from marquee investors will boost our ability to scale our operations to keep pace with the traction we are seeing for our digital cafeteria management solution.
The Foodtech space has seen growth and consolidation in India over the last three years. Food services was touted to be a $50 billion market, growing at 16-20 percent year on year, and VCs were salivating and investing in multiple startups. The sector saw consolidation as multiple foodtech companies like Dazo, Spoonjoy and Eatlo shut down or got acqui-hired (Spoonjoy was acqui-hired by Grofers) in late 2015. Zomato, Swiggy, Freshmenu, and Innerchef are currently some of the popular players in the Indian foodtech space, while Uber India is dipping its toes in the sector with UberEats.
Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys believes HungerBox addresses the large Foodtech space with a scalable model, and an end-to-end solution that provides a win-win to employees as well as to corporate clients. Talking about the sector, he said,
There is tremendous potential for innovation in the B2B food-tech arena as corporate spends on F&B are already massive and growing year-on-year.