[The Turning Point] Why hyperlocal grocery startup Milkbasket chose to focus on contactless delivery

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focuses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at Gurugram-based hyperlocal grocery delivery platform Milkbasket.

Who hasn’t been to the neighborhood kirana and returned home to realise that eggs and bananas were also needed?

It was to solve the perennial grocery shopping problem and enable easy and contactless deliveries that four friends - Anant Goel, Ashish Goel, Anurag Jain, and Yatish Talvadia - founded hyperlocal grocery delivery startup MilkBasket in 2015. The Gurugram-based platform aims to be the online replacement for your daily grocery shopping.

Founders of Milkbasket

“We wanted to deliver groceries like an invisible house help. Your help does not disturb your everyday life. They come in, do their work, and leave. Milkbasket wanted to be that,” Anant tells YourStory

The working of the app is simple. Add all that you need to your basket before going to bed and your order will be at your doorstep between 5 am and 7 am the next morning.

Milkbasket entered the e-grocery and hyperlocal market at a time when it was already crowded, and dominated by players like Bigbasket and Grofers. So how did the journey start?

On-ground research 

After his last stint as a co-founder at a real estate company, in January 2015, Anant realised that grocery would always be a necessity and that available options for online delivery did not seem efficient enough.

“We wondered if there was a better way to deliver groceries,” he says. 

Ashish used to use the Milk and More service in the UK to get milk and groceries delivered to his home every alternate day, and the founders realised the need for a similar platform in India.

They focused on understanding how grocery works - what products grocery stores carry, why they carry them, and how they land at the selections – and visited 50 kiranas. “We had to talk to them and understand how the grocery system worked because we had to rely on them to fulfil the needs of our online customers,” Anant says. 

One of the biggest revelations was when everyone advised that they should stay away from the milk business “because it never makes money”. However, all mom-and-pop stores carried milk and three different varieties of bread. When asked why, they said customers always came to buy milk but eventually ended up buying other products as well

That led to the launch of Milkbasket on March 1, 2015, after 30 days of on-ground research. 

Starting small, going big 

The team built a holistic app where customers just had to add items to their basket, without worrying about checking out or making payments. Customers could add items between 7 am and 12 am, and orders were delivered the next morning. Orders are pre-paid via a mobile wallet on the app, which users can recharge as needed. 

“Contactless delivery had to be our main pillar. However, it is not just about skipping calls, but also taking care of security concerns,” Anant says. 

On the very first day of starting the operations, Milkbasket fulfilled orders for 20 households, from the back of Anant’s car. 

Today, Milkbasket has a customer base of 1.5 million users and offers products across fruits and vegetables, dairy, bakery, and other FMCG categories. It is operational across Gurugram, Noida, Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. 

The startup has raised more than $30 million in funding rounds so far, and is backed by marquee investors, including Inflection Point Ventures, Mayfield, Beenext, Kalaari Capital, Unilever Ventures, Lenovo Capital, Blume Ventures, and a few family offices

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)