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With 1,000 home chefs and more than 20,000+ customers, this foodtech platform is empowering women in Pune

By Rekha Balakrishnan
December 03, 2021, Updated on : Tue Dec 07 2021 03:01:06 GMT+0000
Adetee Agarwal started foodtech platform PinkAprons during the lockdown last year to help women home chefs become entrepreneurs.
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Having lived away from home while pursuing her engineering degree and working in various IT companies for seven years, food was always on Adetee Agarwal’s mind.


“While food is an indispensable part of our lives and deserves special attention, I often found the food wanting in terms of taste,” she says of the pain point behind a food venture.


In 2016, she started FoodGinie, looking for pure vegetarian North Indian food for people on the go. It’s a platform where subscribers can book, edit, or cancel meals online, no questions asked. In a couple of years, FoodGinie grew into multiple stores in different cities like Mumbai, Surat and Raipur through third-party food delivery service providers and other distributors.


During the nationwide lockdown last year, Adetee witnessed several people losing jobs.


“The primary earning member, usually the husband lost his job, and, in most cases, I saw that the wives had exemplary culinary skills and wanted to sell food to make money, but had no resources or business platform to look up to,” she explains.

PinkAprons

Home chefs Meet Khubani, Priyanka Pandey and Annalaxmi Ram Kumar

Empowering women home chefs

That was the ‘aha’ moment for Adetee to launch PinkAprons, a platform that empowers women and home chefs to become entrepreneurs in just five minutes and sell their food to a large audience.


Since its launch last year, it has onboarded 500 home chefs from Pune and served over 20,000 customers so far.

Since I was living in Pune, I understood the spending habits as well as the behaviour of the target audience, where eating habits changed drastically during the pandemic. People became more conscious about their food choices, hygiene of the place from where they are ordering, and started preferring home-cooked meals to restaurant food. Realising the demand, awareness about the huge market, and need for home-cooked food, we planned to start our journey from the city,” Adetee says.

She tapped into FoodGinie’s existing network of home chefs, cloud kitchens, and restaurants and tried to understand their pain points.


PinkAprons’ strategy was simple - create a platform for women home chefs, help them become entrepreneurs from the comfort of their homes, and cater food through instant or scheduled food orders.


Initially, home chefs and customers were onboarded primarily through posts on social media. Gradually, they expanded into SEO, paid ads on social media, and email marketing to generate traction.


There are two parts to PinkAprons’ business - on-boarding home chefs and inspiring them to showcase their culinary skills, setting up a price, and delivering the orders.


The other is to create awareness of home-cooked food available online among foodies and inspire them to order and schedule meals conveniently. The backend teams manage delivery, setting up IT infrastructure, customer service, and other aspects.

The platform offers specific regional food, exotic bakery items, healthy salad, or daily meals (tiffin subscription).

It boasts of a Master Chef contestant, delivery boy’s wives (with no previous business exposure), cruise chefs (with 10-15+ years of industry experience), and other home chefs who joined PinkAprons during the pandemic. All home chefs are FSSAI-certified.


Adetee is assisted by her brother Arpit Agrawal, who looks after FoodGinie. The team comprises a “family” of 10+ members and consultants.

Opportunities and challenges

The entrepreneur says onboarding new chefs, training them about online business, and building trust were the most significant challenges initially.


“When we started accepting online orders in September 2020, we had to face many cancellations; home chefs used to panic at times, sometimes customers didn’t want to wait for more than 30 minutes…almost everything appeared to be challenging when people compare you with services of other home delivery platforms.

“We found solutions to these problems, and our reviews speak for us. In an industry where 70 percent positive feedback is considered fair enough, we have a 90 percent satisfaction rate with a retention rate of more than 50 percent,” she adds.

PinkApron’s charges a nominal annual fee from home chefs with a free three-month trial, starting from Rs 500. It charges a commission of 10-20 per cent on every order. It is also planning to start a marketing and B2B services marketplace, which will hopefully accelerate growth and revenues.


It claims to be Pune’s biggest platform for home-cooked food with 20,000+ customers and around 1,000 home chefs. She says as of now, only Zomato and Swiggy are their main competitors.


Currently bootstrapped, PinkAprons gets around 150-200 orders a day, with the average order size and volume of orders increasing at a healthy pace of 20-30 percent per month. Its most significant successes have been party orders and bulk orders for corporate, house parties, events, etc.


“We plan to expand to other cities like Mumbai, Gurugram, and Bengaluru. We want to empower one million women through PinkAprons, make them independent, and give wings to their culinary dreams. We are also looking for the right venture capital partner to help us expand and grow,” Adetee signs off.


Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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