Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

'Surprising to see how quickly smaller cities have adapted to ordering meat online' : FreshToHome cofounder

In conversation with Storyboard18, Shan Kadavil gives more insight into the meat and seafood ecommerce startup and its plans for the future

Published: Jun 8, 2022 02:25:48 PM IST
Updated: Jun 8, 2022 05:12:00 PM IST

'Surprising to see how quickly smaller cities have adapted to ordering meat online' : FreshToHome cofounderShan Kadavil, cofounder, FreshToHome 

How far would you go to get your fish curry and rice right? Some like Shan Kadavil start their own company. Co-founder of FreshToHome, Kadavil started the meat and sea food e-commerce platform when his fish supplier shut shop. Since then, he’s promised to make fresh non-vegetarian ingredients available at every corner of the country. And now, he's hungry to grow. 

In an exclusive chat with Storyboard18, Kadavil shares the company’s plans for expansion and reducing delivery time, focusing on ready-to-eat options, and roping in Ranveer Singh for a campaign.

Edited excerpts.

Tell us about the #NoShortcuts campaign? How is getting Ranveer Singh on board helping?

We began our journey with the desire to find safe and hygienic fish and meat to consume. We take no shortcuts and deliver only 100 percent fresh and chemical-free products to the consumer. That's what the #NoShortcuts campaign is all about.

While we saw a surge in online orders during the pandemic, the other thing that came to light was the importance given to health and safety. Our efforts are also in the same direction and to amplify it, we want to showcase the source of our products, i.e., there is no middleman involved, and confidently put up certifications for anything our customers buy. 

We wanted someone with a huge following and credibility to spread this message across and we couldn’t think of a better name than Ranveer Singh. With his comic timing and immense fan following, he has made our #NoShortcuts campaign a huge hit. Within five days of the campaign going live, we saw the traffic on our platform hitting an all-time high with a 50 percent increase compared to the same period a week prior to it. 

With ecommerce these days, especially in the food business, the new fad is to deliver orders as quickly as possible. We know you already have a 90-minute delivery option but are you planning to get in the race of being not just fresher but faster?

The 90-minute delivery is a hit on our platforms and while we do not want to enter the 15-minute or the 30-minute game, we are definitely looking at reducing the 90-minute option to an hour to be able to deliver fresh seafood and meat quicker. The target to do that is a year's time. 

The metros have always been quick to adopt. But what about the newer markets you have expanded in? How has the response been? Are people open to buying non-vegetarian supply online in smaller markets?

It is surprising to see how smaller cities and towns have taken to ordering non-vegetarian online.

For instance, when my team suggested entering the Warangal market in Telengana, I thought it was a bad idea. But, I was wrong. Within three months of starting operations we started closing four hundred orders per day. Similarly, there are also very tiny markets that have seen a surprisingly good turn around. Kottayam in Kerala is an example again where we entered being apprehensive because of the sheer size of the market. We were not sure how a small place like Kottayam would open up to ordering seafood and fish online. But again, we were surprised. In no time we started getting 100 to 200 orders per day. We have been witnessing 6x growth in non-metros alone in the last quarter.

Alongside markets, there have been other interesting trends too in terms of consumption. Like the Green Mussel, a shellfish native to New Zealand but adopted by India, was the fastest to fly off the shelves soon after being launched on the FreshToHome platform.

FreshToHome clocked more than two miillion orders per month by 2021. In addition to this, the brand added eight lakh plus new meat lovers in 2021. Basically the consumers are opening up to exploring new things.

You have been on a massive expansion spree. What is next?

We supply fresh produce to 200 cities, spanning over 2,800-plus pin codes, including Delhi-NCR, Panchkula, Lucknow, Dehradun, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Kerala, Hyderabad, and Tamil Nadu among others. We are also planning to go big internationally. While we are already operational in Dubai, we want to take FreshToHome to other Gulf regions. 

So, reducing delivery time and expansion is on the cards. What else is planned in the coming year? 

Expansion and 60-minute delivery apart, we would want to focus on the ready-to-eat segment. We also want to double the number of offline outlets. That apart, we will be strongly focused on branding and marketing initiatives. Our annualised revenue run rate is close to Rs 1,200 crore, and roughly about 25 percent goes into marketing. We plan to keep at it. We have plans to go live with one campaign every quarter. Getting Ranveer Singh as our brand ambassador is one of the first steps taken towards making the FreshToHome story bigger.