This startup is helping 10,000+ D2C and F&B brands up their digital game

Founded in 2020, New Delhi-based startup ZFW has a tech-enabled network of dark stores to help D2C and F&B brands expand distribution, get closer to customers, and boost profitability.
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Post the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the ecommerce market has grown exponentially.

And in this intensely competitive ecommerce market, there is an increasing need for brands to be closer to customers.

This is being facilitated by several startups that are enabling brands to reap the benefits of this growing market by leveraging technology and the right infrastructure to support demand, understand their customers better, and more.

One of these startups is ZFW Dark Stores. Founded in 2020, the New Delhi-based startup claims to be servicing more than 20,000 orders a month and says it’s on track to achieve 50,000+ by the end of this quarter. 

“Our dark store platform allows brands to reach national scale faster and place their products at over 100 dark stores across major Indian cities, reducing fulfillment times and RTOs, driving additional revenue and delivering a stellar customer experience,” Madhav Kasturia, Founder of ZFW Dark Stores, tells YourStory.

Starting from a side hustle

Madhav’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2015 as the founder of a small takeout store called Beijing Street as a side hustle in college. When the first store performed well, he decided to scale up to more locations. 

After graduating in 2018, he went on to run a chain of four cloud kitchens until 2020 when COVID-19-impacted business. 

Adjusting to the ‘new normal’, Madhav launched ZFW. Today, the startup has a team of more than 50 people. 

“ZFW is solving for over three million underutilised dark store spaces and more than 10,000 brands in India that want to grow fast but are unable to due to limited capital, distribution, and bandwidth,” says the entrepreneur. 

How it works

The startup helps direct-to-consumer (D2C) and food and beverage (F&B) brands and logistics platforms expand hyperlocal delivery to newer geographies without upfront costs, overheads, and operational hassles using its network of dark stores. 

“Simply put, we help D2C brands fulfil orders in 30 minutes, two hours, and the same day so that they can instead focus on customer delight and strategy,” says Madhav.

ZFW claims to help some of the best-known homegrown and international brands grow through its network of 100+ tech-enabled dark stores across Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune.

“We charge a revenue share for the fulfilment, last-mile services, and manage the entire life cycle of a D2C order from acceptance to delivery. We've aligned our model in such a way that we win only when our brand partners win,” he adds.

Brands can sign up on the website and via the startup’s sales team to use ZFW’s tech stack and dark store fulfilment platform.

Funding and future

ZFW has recently raised $415,000 in Pre-Seed funding from D2C angels, real-estate family offices, and accelerators such as founders of Epigamia, Beardo, Dr Vaidya's, Icebreaker VC, Ashika, Indvest Group, and Huddle, etc. 

At the time, the startup said it plans to use the funding to scale operations into South India, its tech platform and accelerate hiring.

It serves brands like Baskin Robbins, Keventers, Fabbox, NOTO, Epigamia, etc. A Statista report predicts that the Indian D2C market is massive and expected to cross $100 billion by 2025.

“ZFW hasn’t witnessed direct competition but has seen certain intersections with Kitchens Plus, Kitchens Centre, WareIQ, Wherehouse, etc,” Madhav says.

In the next six months, ZFW plans to scale up to 10 cities and by December 2022, it aims to have 500 dark stores across 25 cities.

“COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the emerging trend of direct orders for a huge segment of the ecommerce space. We’re building a strong dark store network for D2C brands who will ride this wave. ZFW is on track to grow 10X by the end of 2022,” he adds.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta