This Y Combinator-backed cloud kitchen startup wants to create premium quality food brands
The food and hospitality industry was one of the worst hit during the pandemic. With unpredictable lockdowns and due to the fear of contracting the virus, consumers were not willing to venture out for brunches and dinners.
While some tried functioning as delivery-only players, many had either shut shop or were on the verge of closing. Francesco's Pizzeria, a Mumbai-based pizza dine-in restaurant, was facing similar problems.
This is when Nishant Jhaveri, an MBA graduate from INSEAD, and business consultant Pranav Mehra saw a massive business opportunity. Nishant is Pranav’s younger brother’s friend.
“Around May (2020) we were looking to build our own kitchen where other cloud kitchen food brands could operate. But that business model wasn’t working out for us and instead we decided to take over Francesco’s and run it,” Nishant tells YourStory.
Nishant and Pranav foundedin August 2020 as a cloud kitchen startup catering to premium customers willing to spend Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 on their food.
Run by Eat Nino Pvt. Ltd., the startup also received $125,000 from Y-Combinator as part of 2021 cohort in the same month.
Nino Foods currently has 70 members and is looking to expand across Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune in the next 10-12 months
After acquiring the brand with its staff under Nino Foods, Nishant and Pranav closed Francesco’s single outlet and converted it into a delivery-only player. The duo claims the pizza brand is currently profitable.
The 70-member startup focusses a lot on data they can acquire from food delivery aggregators and their own research.
“We got some confidence after being able to pivot Francesco’s into a profitable brand. We crunched some data fromand and we realised many people were looking for burgers, which were not just an aloo patty with some cheese. They wanted some side dish and a dip,” say Nishant.
The duo hired a professional chef to test out a few variants and introduced Nino Burger, a gourmet burger brand. The firm is also in the process of launching another brand in the bowls and rolls segment.
Nino Food’s product price ranges between Rs 300-600, and the average basket size is Rs 900. Nishant claims the startup is profitable and clocking 12,000 orders every month, out of which 50-60 percent are repeat purchases.
Getting such repeat orders is not easy for a food brand starting out in a crowded cloud kitchen space. People usually do not have brand loyalty and jump ships if another restaurant or food brand is offering major discounts.
To overcome this challenge, Nino Foods said it creates Instagramable packaging, which entices people to post about them, and does many pop-up events.
“Through these events, we are able to put our food in the hands of more and more people. We also understand what people are liking and what they are not liking,” says Pranav.
Nino Foods has three outlets across Mumbai and is looking to acquire and create more food brands in multiple categories.
“We want to acquire brands that have a small but very loyal following, and also create such premium quality brands,” says Nishant.
Credit: YourStory Design
After the initial shock, the food delivery market boomed during the pandemic. While Zomato and Swiggy saw higher delivery numbers, the market is set to grow 13.23 percent to reach $19,591 million (in volume) by 2025, according to Statista.
Nino Foods is operating in a booming but highly competitive space. Ankit Nagori,’s breakout executive and former co-founder, is building a warchest by planning to raise Rs 100 crore for Eat.Fit, a cloud kitchen that acquires food brands. Bengaluru-based Voosh Technologies, also backed by Y Combinator, is playing in the similar space.
With three outlets, the startup is currently in the process of setting up their fourth outlet, which will be live by the end of October, and is also working towards a new food brand. Nino Foods is also looking to set up outlets across Delhi, Bengaluru, and Pune in the next 10 to 12 months.
YourStory’s flagship startup-tech and leadership conference will return virtually for its 13th edition on October 25-30, 2021. Sign up for updates on TechSparks or to express your interest in partnerships and speaker opportunities here.
For more on TechSparks 2021, click here.