Think workplace snacking, and a range of unhealthy options – mainly sugar and carb-laden goodies – come to mind. And they’re all easy to sink your teeth into, courtesy the many food delivery apps.
Keen to provide healthier options, Rishi Sakhuja and Radhika Gupta Singh set up Delhi-based Fruit Box & Co, an ecommerce platform with B2B and B2C verticals for fresh fruits.
Bootstrapped in August 2018 with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh, the startup makes it easy to get your “5 A Day” by offering an array of fruits sourced from across India and the world.
Rishi, 32, is an MBA in finance, and has previously worked with Induslnd Bank. His wish to do something in the agriculture space led him to join Super Banana, a 25-year-old brand, and take up its distribution for Delhi and NCR, two and a half years back.
"With Super Banana, we created a supply chain - procuring, transporting, handling, ripening, and selling branded bananas," Rishi says.
Super Banana, is still operational and supplies to retailers, including Bigbasket, Modern Bazaar, and to wholesalers and hotels in Delhi.
“We clock up to 10,000 kg of bananas in Delhi-NCR, on a daily basis,” he adds.
With people becoming increasingly aware and conscious about healthy eating and due to his prior experience in the fruit industry, Rishi decided to start up again. And Fruit Box & Co was born. The startup had a soft launch with Rishi offering gift packs to his friends and family “to get honest feedback”.
Rishi’s sister-in-law Radhika, 29, had done a baking course from Le Cordon Bleu in London and started working at Ambrosia Cakes.
“When she started working, she realised the substandard quality of fruits available to Indians. It is then that she joined me to source better quality fruits through Fruit Box,” Rishi says.
Radhika now manages the design and packaging while Rishi takes care of sourcing, farmer network, wholesalers and importers.
Fruit Box started taking orders in January this year; the website went live in February.
"We wanted to create an experience for our customers and not just offer high quality fruits. We've designed sturdy boxes to minimise damage,” Rishi says.
Fruit Box sources its produce directly from farmers, wholesalers, and importers or verified partners. They have tied up with over 500 farmers, wholesalers, and importers.
“We purchase lots and keep them in our cold storage after receiving updates from partners about their inventory and pricing,” Rishi says.
Fruit Box has a backend team in Maharashtra and Delhi for order tracking, dispatching, and inventory management. They also have an agro-freeze cold storage unit in Azadpur. Packaging, quality check, and dispatching are done from the cold storage itself.
While some fruits - bananas, mangoes, oranges, grapes, and strawberries - are sourced from across India, Fruit Box imports other fruits - apples from the US and New Zealand, guavas and passion fruit from Thailand, avocados from Mexico, and pears from the US.
The team has seven members at present.
The startup currently only caters to Delhi-NCR, and offers three different verticals. The B2C vertical is for daily delivery directly to customers’ doorsteps. It has some clients in Jaipur and Chandigarh as well for this.
“We target 30 to 50-year-olds who are looking for quality fruits and convenience,” Rishi says.
For the B2B vertical, also called corporate supply, Fruit Box delivers fruits to offices, hotels, hospitals, and schools, including Amit International Schools. “We work on customisation by asking the company for the number of employees and then design a monthly package,” Rishi says.
For corporates, delivery happens every Monday. Some of Fruit Box’s corporate clients include TLC India, Amity University, WeWork (for their Wellness Wednesdays), and Jovees Herbals.
The fruit delivery startup also has gifting solutions starting Rs 899.
“We acquired our first client for daily fruits through a session at WeWork and began the gifting programme through Instagram,” Rishi says.
Plans bear fruit
The Fruit Box co-founders claim the startup has recorded revenue growth of over 50 percent month on month. “Since January 2019, we have clocked half a million in revenue,” adds Rishi.
According to Research on Global Markets, Insight by Netscribes, the fruit and vegetable processing industry in India is likely to expand at a CAGR of 7.62 percent between FY 2018-23, to reach a value of Rs 256.4 billion in FY 2023.
With fruits becoming the go-to snacking option for working professionals, such services are becoming extremely popular across the world. Dublin-based Fruitbox and Australia-based FruitBox Group and Fruitatwork are working the same idea. Other countries, including the UK and the US, also have multiple order-fruit-at-work services.
In India, Fruit Box competes with startups like Gofarmz, Freshokartz and Ninjacart, and bigger players like Bigbasket and Grofers. Nagpur-based Eat Kit is also working on the same premise.
But Rishi is confident that their Fruit Box stands out.
“We offer a wider variety of fruits than our competitors. Also, since we focus only on fruits, quality and delivery are of the utmost importance to us,” he says.
He adds that having a strong network of farmers, wholesalers, and importers, and sourcing directly from them reduces the involvement of middlemen and handling, increasing the life of the fruit.
What comes next?
Fruit Box is currently focusing on further growing operations in the Delhi-NCR region. “Gurugram is a great market for us,” Rishi says. “We are looking to explore the Punjab and Mumbai markets in the next six months,” he adds.
The startup is also considering the idea of venturing into the cut fruit market.
Fruit Box plans to raise funds to ensure smoother supply chain functionality.
“We are working on creating technology that lets farmers, wholesalers, and importers post their inventory and prices on that platform,” Rishi says.
Here’s hoping that all their plans come to fruition!