This Gurugram-based foodtech startup is bringing exquisite culinary experience home
Most startups, especially in the delivery space, aspire to model themselves after the success stories of unicornsand . But not , a Gurugram-based food delivery platform, which claims to bring together award-winning chefs of international repute on a single app.
In fact, its founder Sumbul Siddiqui, who has over two decades of experience in the hospitality and telecom industry, says Knosh is everything that Zomato or Swiggy aren’t.
Founded in 2021 with Ajay Malhotra and Samrat Das Gupta, the foodtech platform allows users to choose chefs listed on its website or mobile app, select favourites from a range of dishes on its curated menu, and have food delivered on a set date and time.
“We have not created just another platform with an unending list of restaurants having five-pages long menus. Our focus is purely on showcasing the best dishes of the chefs to food lovers,” she tells HerStory.
Valued at Rs 28,900 crore in 2019, India’s foodtech market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39 percent between 2021 and 2025, according to MarketResearch.
Currently, Knosh has no direct competitors and faces little to no competition from other foodtech and delivery peers in the market.
Starting up again
After completing hotel management from Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, followed by MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, she worked at companies like Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel, and Tatasky. With more than two decades of experience in the telecom and hospitality industry, it was only natural for Sumbul to start up on her own when the opportunity struck.
A serial entrepreneur and a former mentor at NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission, Sumbul has two other startups to her credit.
In 2015, she took the entrepreneurial plunge by starting Jumbogrocery, a B2B (business-to-business) integrated platform that enabled market reach for sellers and manufacturers in the food and beverage business, which was among the early awardees of Startup India Initiative.
Her second venture, Empirica Foods, operates on both B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B models to offer food and beverages from a range of cloud kitchen services and online brands.
Knosh—her third venture in the foodtech space— sought to solve a unique problem during the pandemic in 2021. When hospitality, food and beverage were among the worst hit industries during the pandemic, Sumbul closely saw the impacts of restaurants shutting down overnight.
While many resorted to odd jobs to survive the crisis, a lot of talented chefs had taken their love for preparing delicate food and cuisine to their home kitchens.
When Sumbul spoke to a few of these chefs, they told her about all the new and painstaking processes of working from home. Among other challenges, chefs had to keep a track of orders placed via WhatsApp and SMS, manage customers on calls as well as take care of delivery logistics. On top of all this, they had to match customer expectations.
“While they have limited marketing tools to enhance their visibility, I also saw a lot of food enthusiasts love to order food from high end places but had no option to order in curated meals from any celebrity or popular chef. A unified tech platform was missing,” says Sumbul, recalling the eureka moment for Knosh.
A community for food enthusiasts
Knosh says it sets itself apart from other foodtech platforms as a chef-centric platform. It has roped in chef Hemant Oberoi as a mentor and an advisory board member as well as Masterchef India judge Chef Ajay Chopra in its core team and as brand ambassador.
Registered on an invite-only basis, the platform has on boarded close to 30 chefs including Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Chef Vanshika Bhatia, Chef Nishant Choubey, Chef Sweety Singh. It hopes to add about 60 more chefs for Gurugram this quarter.
The entrepreneur is now focusing on integrating in-app features to enable content creation and build a community around food. Knosh is developing features for chefs to host live sessions, vlog, and share their recipes and allow users to explore and share food-related content.
At the same time, the app allows users to maintain an “ordering calendar” to plan and order for various gatherings and events in advance with a multi-cart option to choose starters and main courses dishes from different chefs.
With an average order value of Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000, it has piloted in Gurugram and aims to expand to Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Dubai soon.
By the end of next quarter, Knosh hopes to raise a Pre-Series fund of $2 million to scale up the operations and enhance tech capabilities.
As an entrepreneur, Sumbul believes it is one thing to have a good idea and whole another game to execute them to determine whether the ship sails or sinks.
She says that times have changed in the last two decades and there is more talk about gender biases and women empowerment.
To women entrepreneurs who want to make it happen, she advises, “You must have passion and believe in what you are doing and be very consistent because everything takes time to materialise.”
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti