What led these founders to launch D2C milk and grocery delivery startup Country Delight
The NDDB’s landmark Operation Flood may have transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world's largest milk producer, but it did not organise the sector and solve other related problems.
Chakradhar Gade and Nitin Kaushal say they continued to find it difficult to “source high-quality milk”.
In 2013, this led the duo to start direct-to-consumer (D2C) milk and grocery delivery company.
Country Delight is a tech-first D2C brand delivering natural food essentials directly from the farmer to the doorstep of the consumer. It does more than eight million milk deliveries per month across 15 cities, with a supply chain that spans 11 states in the country.
In May 2022, Country Delight raised $108 million in a Series D funding round led by Nicholas Cator-backed Venturi Partners and Temasek.
It has raised a total of $147 million in equity capital.
Chakradhar, CEO and Co-founder, and Nitin, COO and Co-founder, batchmates from IIM Indore, worked in investing and banking respectively before bootstrapping their startup.
They believe that India has a highly unorganised sector where quality is unreliable and a highly organised sector where the “essence and naturalness of food are entirely lost”. This is due to the fragmented logistics chain and inadequate visibility of product quality across the supply chain.
This was the original problem statement for Country Delight, and the founders wanted to come up with a solution based on customer feedback.
“We started this business without a dairy background and little money. Coming from a finance background we had to figure everything out from scratch,” Chakradhar says.
“We started by purchasing 50 cattle and identified a land parcel. We didn’t understand how to manage the cattle and the milk production reduced as the milk cycle became unpredictable,” he says.
“By the end of 2013, we were producing 200 litres of milk and thought we would reach 5,000 litres in two years but it ended up taking us six years. At this point, we burnt through 70% of the bootstrapped capital. So it was a long learning curve to get where we are today.”
The team had to figure out multiple aspects: how to procure milk, fix last-mile delivery, and deal with customer acquisition costs.
“But we were able to overcome these challenges by integrating our supply chain with technology and building scalable options,” Chakradhar says.
“Technology, customer feedback, and research played a major role in helping us to arrive at the product base we have today.”
In the last three years, Country Delight has grown 10X in scale and is currently at over Rs 900 crore ARR.
Country Delight has grown to become India’s leading D2C fresh food essentials brand offering doorstep delivery of dairy, fruits, and vegetables. The company’s business model ensures fresh deliveries in 24-36 hours, facilitated by a fully integrated just-in-time supply chain model.
“We have primarily grown organically. Most of the categories that we have built are with a customer-first approach and we will continue to do so. We also want to focus on improving the farmer ecosystem,” the founder says.
On the product front, the company plans to increase and include more Indian cities.
Chakradhar says they plan to import their farmer network and want to be a one-stop platform for a better lifestyle. “On the product front, we plan to expand our product portfolio. We also plan to increase our farmer network. In essence, we want to be a one-stop platform for wellness and to live better.”
“We want to build an inclusive business that improves the lives of farmers while solving customer problems. Hence, our mantra is ‘live better’,” he says.
Country Delight says India’s fresh food and staples market is expected to cross $50 billion by 2025.
Today, over 60% of the fresh foods market is unorganised, with limited cold storage capabilities, fragmented logistics chain, and inadequate visibility of product quality across the supply chain.
The company, which employs 2,000 people and has a 200-member strong tech team, has a distribution network of about 7,000+ partners.