How cloud kitchen startup KitchenomiKs is powering the GCC foodtech ecosystem

Oman-based KitchenomiKs is a hybrid foodtech startup that offers cloud kitchens for virtual multi-brand restaurants. It is also establishing delivery hubs across GCC.

How cloud kitchen startup KitchenomiKs is powering the GCC foodtech ecosystem

Thursday February 16, 2023,

6 min Read

Aankush Bhatia is a trueblue restaurateur. After successfully managing over 150 theme parks, cafes, and night clubs across India, he launched several restaurants, cafes, and bars in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi in the past 20 years. 

During his journey of building these cafes and restaurants, Aankush realised there was one challenge faced by most restaurateurs--the ability to scale a stand-alone restaurant, café, or bar into multiple units in a short time. 

“Restaurants are capital intensive businesses. Also, the access to data isn’t that strong. Most restaurateurs love an idea and concept and build around it. There was hardly any data in terms of understanding the consumer and what they want. There is also the challenge of creating the same experience in different locations and countries,” says Bhatia. 

This led him to start KitchenomiKs in Oman in March 2022. Registered at Abu Dhabi Global Market in early 2022, the startup is a cloud kitchen operator. 

“I had the idea from the pre-pandemic era, where the vision was to build something that can scale up fast, and can be taken to different geographies easily. The idea was to be able to offer different food experiences to different consumers. Traditionally, this would mean opening 10 restaurants in a multi-cuisine format,” he explains. 

Bhatia says that with KitchenomiKs, the team wants to build one of the largest and fastest growing multi-brand restaurant chains without a dining space.


Aankush Bhatia

Building KitchenomiKs

Bhatia moved to Oman in 2009 and opened Premier, a gastrobar. The gastrobar was doing well, but once the pandemic hit, the bar had to be shut for two years. It was during this time that he started relooking at the business. 

“COVID accelerated and made us think differently, especially the ones in the brick-and-mortar business. We started becoming more tech savvy. Delivery, while existed in the pre-pandemic era, wasn’t as common, until the pandemic. The first step was to understand the concept, put a business plan in place, and do the research,” says Bhatia. 

He roped in Aju Samuel and Shrikant Shenoy as co-founders. Shrikant comes from an investing background and Aju has experience in strategic and consulting roles. The trio started working together on data and building the barebones of KitchenomiKs

“We realised more people were ordering food online, and people were getting tech savvy across all age groups. Everything is about convenience, and it was the right time for the opportunity,” says Bhatia.

Creating food entrepreneurs

KitchenomiKs acts on a kitchen as a service model for well-known local or international brands that want to scale. These are for brands that are looking to scale without much investment. 

“We are also giving an opportunity to other homegrown food vendors to launch and scale their business. There is such beautiful talent available in these homegrown chefs who cook out of passion, who love to cook, and you want to finally commercialise that business.” 

“But unfortunately, either because of investments or due to lack of understanding of the entire ecosystem of running a restaurant business, they are unable to do so. We are working to create an ecosystem. We will bring them to our kitchen as a service to launch their brands,” says Bhatia. 

For example, Shades of Yum is a brand founded by a woman entrepreneur who makes brownies at home. She has now been onboarded to KitchenomiKs. The idea is to help her scale and grow. By the end of first quarter of this year, she will have access to over 15 delivery hubs. 

KitchenomiKs charges a small commission on these models. However, it refused to share the exact amount of its costs. 

The market and competition

Cloud kitchen aggregators are fast growing in the Middle East. Startups like Sweetheart Kitchen and Grubtech are already making waves in the region.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the Middle East and Africa functional food and beverage market is expected to record a CAGR of 8.53% during the forecast period (2022-2027). The numbers indicate it to be one of the most flourishing sectors. 

The global foodtech sector was valued at $233.6 billion in 2021, according to Growth Market Reports. It is expected to cross $385.7 billion by 2030, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% during the forecast period, 2022–2030. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) alone, the foodtech market is expected to reach $15 billion by 2025, according to a RedSeer report.  

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s food sector (GCC) will record an annual growth of over 7%, noted a report by CEO Middle East. In addition to this, following the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the second-largest market for online food ordering and delivery, the report added. 

Standing apart

Speaking about how KitchennomiKs stands apart, Bhatia explains that the team is looking to build a hybrid foodtech ecosystem. The startup plans to launch its own virtual brands that will be available via delivery hubs on foodtech platforms. 

“These brands are created after understanding a lot of data. We understand their taste preferences and the timings--when they want the meal to be delivered. Based on this data, we have created our own brands. The deliveries are done by foodtech companies like Talabat. The delivery hubs also act as grab-and-go kind of outlets,” says Bhatia. 

“The idea is to power the entire food courts in another traditional manner, but more like a mobile platform. For example, we've just invested into something called food lockers, where food can be stored for a longer duration in cubicles. We're expecting it to be delivered to us by February end,” he adds. 

By the end of this year, the startup is looking to explore across larger GCC region. In December 2022, the startup raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by angel investors and other prominent Omani investors. 

With this funding, the team is looking to hire talent, build more brands, and building centralised kitchens and technology. KitchenomiKs has over 30 employees and has an exclusive partnership with Oman Conventional and Exhibition Centre. The team is also looking to raise its Series A funding and expand across the region

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Edited by Megha Reddy