After completing her MBA from the IIM-Ahmedabad in 2003, Kolkata-born Rashmi Daga went on to work across a wide range of companies, including IBM India, Johnson & Johnson Medical, TutorVista, BlueStone and Ola. She also started an online curated art marketplace afday.com in 2011, which she shut down a year later. While afday.com clocked between ₹5 lakh and ₹10 lakh in monthly revenues, Daga realised it wouldn't go far as "its time hadn't arrived yet".
"If you see my story, I have switched industries—IT, medical, education, jewellery, and cab services—with every [new] role. I don't repeat the industry," she says with a laugh. In 2014, she moved to the food industry with FreshMenu, an online restaurant that today clocks 14,000 orders per day from its app and website across Bengaluru, Mumbai, South Delhi, and Gurugram. The average order value is ₹320.
"There was a Domino's and then there was pretty much no one else [in the food delivery space]. At FreshMenu, the thought was to create a differentiated product that was delivery optimised," says Daga. "We chose world cuisine as that's where the most aspirational food sits, right?"
Some of FreshMenu's bestselling products are the burrito bowl (Mexican), chicken steaks (international), doner chicken rice bowl (Middle Eastern), and teriyaki chicken hot pot (Japanese), among others. Since its inception, the online food platform has dished out 1,800 different food items.
Instead of operating from a central kitchen, FreshMenu has multiple satellite kitchens, each serving a radius of roughly five kilometres. In Bengaluru alone, the startup operates 22 kitchens, which Daga believes could be easily doubled. "If Domino's can have 100 stores in Bengaluru, we can have 50 kitchens," she says.
In FY17, FreshMenu reported revenues of ₹72 crore, a 118 percent growth over the previous year. "This year, too, we are on track to double our revenues," says Daga. While she is incurring losses, Daga says, "As a city, Bengaluru for us is Ebitda positive." Operations in Mumbai, she adds, would be Ebidta positive in the next 18 months.
FreshMenu has so far raised $22 million in venture capital funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Zodius Technology Fund. "Her clarity of purpose in terms of building an on-demand fine-dining food business, even when the food tech industry went through boom to bust cycles, is amazing," says K Ganesh, partner of GrowthStory, the promoter of FreshMenu. "Her attention to detail and taking full ownership of all aspects is important in an operationally intensive, 365-days-a-year business," adds Ganesh.
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