Why these ex-Swiggy and Pizza Hut execs founded a restaurant management startup
When Arpita Aditi, who was employed with Bengaluru-based unicorn Swiggy as the National Partnership Manager, visited Japan and went out to eat in a restaurant, she came across a bot named Bolt. The bot took her order, entertained her, and ensured that she had a great dining experience. This experience gave her the idea to start a new venture in the F&B industry.
“I started Nutnbolt to bolt the broken pieces in the restaurant business and target the end-to-end management of restaurants to level the playfield for all restaurateurs,” Arpita tells YourStory.
The Bengaluru-based startup provides end-to-end restaurant management consultation and execution services.
During her stint at Swiggy, Arpita had worked with large teams and would interface with national chain CEOs. “As is the case with mature teams, these brands would have an armada of resources to plan and execute strategies on the chains’ behalf,” she says.
The initial research
Looking deeper into team effectiveness, Arpita realised that the realities were different for smaller players. Before the digital shift, these small- and medium-sized outlets had been doing quite well in running a conventional brick and mortar restaurant business.
They excelled at running a restaurant by applying conventional wisdom and business plans applied, however, but changes that came with the digital shift were tectonic to get accustomed to.
“This was a complete change from their way of doing business – dine-ins started vanishing, commissions were high on delivery aggregators, and it became very difficult to reach their third party points of contact. Conventional wisdom was replaced by funnel conversions, digital marketing strategies, keeping an eye for the latest market trends, knowing your target demographics, slick new apps, and cloud kitchens. The fancier the terms got, the harder it became for these small players to keep up and be competitive,” adds Arpita
The small and medium outlet owners used to handle everything from supply chain and recipes to day-to-day business. This would include direct management of their staff, accounts, recon, customer satisfaction, as well as third party aggregators.
Scaling the business and learning new strategies was an added burden which had now become quintessential to survive, and it soon became too much for many to cope with the mounting pressures. The need of the hour was to create a solution for this operational and informational asymmetry.
The core team
Arpita started Nutnbolt in 2019 along with Narendra Malhotra, who was at the CXO level at Pizza Hut.
“I met Narendra while I was working with Swiggy. Being a veteran of the industry, Narendra comes with a wealth of expertise. He has spent his entire career in the F&B industry and now wants to reform the restaurants in need to give back to the industry,” says Arpita.
While at Swiggy, when she used to manage Oriental Cuisines, Arpita and Narendra worked together to grow the brand by 100 percent (from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1.2 crore per month) within a couple of months.
They remained in touch after Swiggy as well, and finally in January this year, she proposed that Narendra join as the co-founder. Currently, NutnBolt’s team size is 15.
What does the platform do?
Nutnbolt provides a comprehensive omnichannel package to its users which, the founders say, differs significantly from the tech-only solutions provided by its competitors.
In addition to strategising on growth and delivery, Nutnbolt also undertakes execution-level responsibilities for all onboarded clients, which is over and above the consultancy-only offerings from our competitors.
“We also have partial overlap in offered services with delivery aggregators, specifically in operational account management. However, a key advantage that we provide to our clients is an omni-platform outlook. This is an inherent disadvantage for the delivery platform players since a conflict of interest here leads to scope-restrictions on the services offered by them,” explains Arpita.
Conversely, this actually works in favour of Nutnbolt as more restaurateurs get accustomed to working with and provisioning for a dedicated account manager.
The strategy team assesses and identifies the problem areas for the prospects. Building on that, the business team engages with the restaurant owners to create bespoke short-term and long-term engagement plans.
The relationship is structured as a monthly retainer model enabling streamlined commitments from both ends. At the current monthly rate, NutnBolt would be clocking half-a-million dollars in the current financial year, however, as of now, they are growing at the rate of 30 percent month-on-month.
“The restaurant service industry is a very closely-knitted community. Personal networks were important in broadcasting our mission statement to the market. Within a few breaths of announcing a launch, we were in conversations with multiple restaurateurs, who expressed a fervent need for the services being offered by us. Soon, we started getting inbound queries and requests for proposal,” says Arpita.
NutnBolt has one single dashboard for their clients where they can look at all the digital marketing campaigns on online delivery, and offline marketing as well. The dashboard interface helps them visualise campaign data and prevailing sales trends, ROI, and projected item wise sales at a glance through secure web-based access.
The dashboard combines sales performance on all platforms (delivery aggregators, discovery platform, offline) to paint a comprehensive picture of the restaurant’s business
"Instead of offering a product-based service, we want to focus on a need-based product offering. We believe that the need of the hour is to visualise and build a product that evolves according to the changing landscapes of the industry. We want to incorporate this feedback loop into crafting tailor-made advisory and execution capabilities for restaurants of all themes and sizes,” says Arpita.
The platform is operational for restaurants in Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, and Kolkata.
NutnBolt works with a centralised team across multiple domains. The chefs and the designing teams work together to re-define/enhance the concept and theme of the restaurant. The strategy and marketing teams brainstorm on bringing out the USP and demographic positioning, while the operations team ensures continuous and congruous delivery on the strategies to be deployed.
To ensure continuous improvement, the quality team works on improving customer satisfaction by analysing feedback from customers. Special focus is given even to the most minute details, and the feedback loop is plugged into every aspect of the business – packaging, portion size, menu design, and infrastructure durability – to ensure the customer has a great experience the next time they visit or order.
Quality management also includes staff training and regular kitchen audits to ensure great hygiene and customer’s trust in the restaurants.
Concurrently, the business team handles the day-to-day running of the restaurant, monitors the sales of each outlet and is the face of the brand to the delivery aggregators.
The entire business development, analysis, reporting, and growth targeting is handled by this team – from analysis like menu to order conversion, repeat rate, area-wise cuisine penetration, franchise plans, and working with packaging vendors to competition analysis in aiding the business’ the weekly growth.
Market and space
According to Mordor Intelligence, India's food service sector is "one of those vibrantly growing markets that has seen exceptional growth during the past decade and continues to expand rapidly during the forecast period.”
It is forecast to reach $95.75 billion by 2024, registering a CAGR of 10.3 percent during the forecast period (2019-2024). The restaurant management startup competes with EagleOwl, PayTouch, Shogo, and Cohesion.
“In our first month, November 2019, we acquired our first seven clients and grew them by 75 percent (on an order basis). We clocked revenue of around Rs 4 lakh. Between December and February, our client base increased to 50, and we soon reached a high of Rs 25 lakh in monthly revenue,” says Arpita.
The team has raised angel funding from F&B experts. With COVID-19 decimating offline business, NutnBolt has started focusing more on helping their clients in scaling up their digital presence and setting-up low-cost cloud kitchens.
“We plan to acquire clients in all the metro cities in the next quarter. We plan to target brands with three to 20 outlets in the next two quarters, and service 500 restaurants through our various verticals and new feature offerings,” says Arpita.
Edited by Kanishk Singh