They say cakes can turn any ordinary day into a celebration. And no one knows this better than Deepak Nathani, well-known entrepreneur and angel investor. Every year, on his birthday, his daughter, who was based in the US would order a cake online and have it delivered to him.
“I found that there were a number of gaps in the way these online cake platforms worked. A customer ordering a cake through them would have no assurance about the quality, since the portals did not disclose from where they sourced the cakes. I felt there was a need for a platform that offered customers a guarantee on quality and established a sense of reliability,” says Deepak.
This is a key reason that inspired him to launch Bakeway, a one-of-its-kind online marketplace for cakes and baked goods in India, in December 2017.
“The whole world is moving to a marketplace economy. Selling online on an individual level could be expensive. So, we decided to create a super-specialty online cake store, where a large number of bakeries could showcase their products. In a nutshell, our aim is brand recall: when consumers think of ordering a cake, they should automatically think of Bakeway,” says Deepak
Speaking about the Bakeway advantage, Deepak says, “We are the only marketplace exclusively focussed on bakeries in India, and are providing cakes at bakery prices, without marking them up unlike some other portals. We offer customers the reliability of ordering from a known bakery at their own convenience and give them a wide choice,” says Deepak, who is the Founder and CEO.
Launched in Pune, today Bakeway has expanded to Bengaluru and Hyderabad and has plans to go pan-India in the next 12-18 months.
Speaking about other players in this space, he says, “While there are bigger players who provide this service across India, the customer often doesn’t know the source from which they will get the cake.” Bakeway, on the other hand, is a hyperlocal service and offers customers the option to get a cake from known and well-established bakeries and bakers in and around their locality. The platform is simple, user-friendly and easy to browse through. “Ordering is a fast and simple process. Once the user comes to our site, they can order a cake in less than two minutes.”
Deepak says that they’ve also been getting orders from abroad from customers based in countries like the US, UK and Singapore, to deliver cakes in Pune and Bangalore.
Customers can pick from over thousands of cakes from a wide range of bakeries. They can choose a cake based on its shape, type, and flavour. The choices even include photo cakes, ice cream cakes and other customised cakes from different bakeries. They can include add-ons such as party poppers, fancy candles, etc. They can book a cake in advance, opt for same day delivery, (including late night or midnight delivery), or even pick an express delivery option.
The advantage for the customer is that they can choose from a wider selection. For sellers, it means more eyeballs for their bakery even if the consumer chooses not to order from them on that occasion.
The technology that the Bakeway platform uses is all developed in-house, a unique combination of Magento, Rest API for the backend and React JS & React Native for the front end.
For a startup that’s barely eight months old, Bakeway has seen remarkable progress, with a steady month-on-month growth rate of 15 percent. “Observing how other food tech startups have seen phenomenal growth in the last few years, we believe with time our volumes will also increase year on year.” Currently, they are in the phase of introducing Bakeway to the world and creating confidence among users. It’s just a matter of time before people get used to the platform and make it their de facto choice for ordering cakes, he adds.
To validate this, Deepak says that till date, the feedback they have received has been largely positive. The Bakeway team ensures that any constructive feedback is properly addressed so that their users are happy.
Bakeway charges the businesses on their platform a nominal commission. However, according to Deepak, a significant chunk of this is passed back to the customers through coupon codes and discounts. “So, effectively, they are getting a cake at a lower price than they would if they directly bought it from a bakery, and we are giving them more value for money,” he adds.
Today, Bakeway is Pune’s largest online marketplace for cakes with more than 500 bakeries and home bakers on board. They launched in Bengaluru just a month ago and now have close to 300 bakeries and home bakers, with the numbers growing every day. They are launching in Hyderabad by the end of the month, and plan to add one new metro every two months. Currently, they are deciding between Mumbai or NCR for their next launch. Also, Deepak says they will not be limiting themselves to just metros, but also plan to foray into Tier 2 cities. “In fact, we have heard that traction is better in Tier 2 cities like Nagpur,” he says.
Their expansion is not just geographic, but also in terms of offerings. In the next phase, which they plan to kick off soon, other than cakes, the Bakeway platform will also include bakery items such as muffins, sandwiches, snacks and other savouries.
When asked what challenges they faced, he says that in the initial days, on boarding bakeries in Pune was a little challenging since some were sceptical about the platform and needed convincing. “Now, in fact, we get inquiries from bakeries that want to be on our platform. People have started to recognise that there is value in this,” he says.
They ensured that periodic redesigns were made to the site based on customer feedback and changing user requirements, says Deepak. “We will always keep evolving when it comes to giving our customers a great user experience,” he adds.
Deepak is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship. Back in the mid-90s, he returned to India after a nine-year stint in the US and co-founded Cybage Software, and steered it from a startup to a 6,000+ employee company. Today it is one of the most successful software services companies based out of Pune.
As part of what he calls his ‘second innings’, in October 2016 he set up with Relfor Labs (Bakeway’s parent company), a platform to encourage innovative and out-of-the-box products and ideas for a tech-driven economy. Alongside this, he started actively investing in and mentoring early-stage startups and e-commerce ventures based in Pune, some of which include Benoit, Ethosh, Demyto and Devourin. Deepak is also a promoter of Relfor Foundation, which is very active in CSR activities and is involved in a number of social development projects in and around Pune. These include rejuvenating water bodies, building homes for tribals, and adopting old age homes and schools for children with special needs.
With a young and energetic team in place, Deepak believes that they are well into their journey to becoming India’s largest platform for ordering bakery products online.