Bengaluru-based caterer aggregator CaterNinja lets customers book hassle-free catering services at the click of a mouse.
India is known for its larger-than-life celebrations. Be it a wedding, anniversary, birthday, corporate party or even something as trivial as a kitty party - we know how to kick back and have a good time with music, dance, gupshup, booze and most importantly, food.
But, imagine a scenario where you invite people over for an occasion and the caterer you hired is a no-show. Nightmare!
Anup Agarwal had to live this nightmare one day when the caterer hired for his daughter's birthday party didn't turn up. Not wishing this situation upon even his worst enemy, Anup, along with Anurag Mishra, his former colleague at Kotak, decided to do something. And in June 2016, they set up caterer aggregating startup, CaterNinja.
Caterer aggregator CaterNinja is an ecommerce platform that brings caterers, restaurants, five-star hotels and home chefs all in one place, enabling customers to place an order for a caterer at the click of a mouse. The company delivered their first order in January 2017.
With an internal rating system for restaurants and caterers on criteria including hygiene, accountability and efficiency as well as necessary certification, CaterNinja has weeded out the ones that failed to impress, be it by their tardiness or lack of knowledge in handling food for large crowds.
"While we cannot control the food quality or taste, we can ensure that the food is delivered hassle-free and on time," says Anup.
How does this caterer aggregator work?
CaterNinja works like Zomato for caterers. On the website, there is a 'vendor signup' option, where caterers can request for a listing. Once the catering company's (or hotel, restaurant) internal rating is done, it is listed on the website for free. A commission fee (of about five to 10 percent) or a fixed charge (from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000) is charged from the vendor after the delivery of their services.
Getting the vendors on board was easy since they did not have to pay to be listed.
Customers, on the other hand, have to log in, put the necessary filters and select from the list of many options available on the website depending on their order size, budget, type of meal, cuisine, etc. Customers can also book services through email, WhatsApp or their chat-based service. Each customer has to pay 50 percent in advance while booking the services of a particular caterer.
You can sample the food before going in for large orders. For smaller events, you can opt for a paid food trial.
The company offers catering in five different categories: caterers, restaurants, five-star hotels, speciality restaurants and cloud kitchens and home chefs. CaterNinja lists food packs ranging from Rs 50 (for the snack boxes) to a five-course meal at Rs 3,000.
Its corporate customers include KPMG, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, Cowrks, CRY, True Caller, Zivame and Amazon Frontizo, among others.
CaterNinja also has clients for social events such as wedding dinners, pre-wedding functions, birthday parties, housewarming ceremonies and social functions.
The caterer aggregator has a core team of four members. 41-year-old Anurag is an ex-senior private banker, who had earlier started a restaurant venture Whereabouts Grill & Lounge.
On the other hand, 37-year-old Anup has more than a decade of experience in the investment banking sector and has previously worked with Credit Suisse and Kotak Investment Bank. He also worked as an associate director at PwC before plunging into full-time entrepreneurship.
Their team also consists of 44-year old Rahul Nanda, who has more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry and financial services industry and heads the company's business alliances.
From a bite to the whole pie
Currently bootstrapped, the company aims to cross Rs 5 crore in revenues by the end of this year. CaterNinja was founded with a seed capital of Rs 5 lakh, contributed by the founders from their savings. Although the company has not raised any external funding yet, they are looking for pre-series A funding.
CaterNinja presently lists more than 200 curated caterers and they serve more than 25 corporate clients in Bengaluru itself. It has earned a revenue of more than Rs 50 lakh since inception from repeat clients in the IT, financial and marketing sectors.
"Unlike food delivery services, all our transactions are profitable as the order sizes are large," Anup explains. The company claims to have served 5,000 meals per month in their first quarter, that is from inception till March 2017. They have averaged 25,000 meals a month last year and plans on serving one lakh meals a month by March 2019.
The market in a nutshell
Globally, the contract catering market is expected to growth at a CAGR of 4.02 percent between 2016 and 2021. The B2B food delivery space seems to have gained traction in the first half of 2018. Bengaluru-based HungerBox raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding, led by Lionrock Capital and Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of Infosys.
Zomato, on the other hand, acquired TongueStun Food, a Bengaluru-based caterer and restaurant aggregator startup last month. According to media reports, the company was valued at $18 million.
While companies like HungerBox, Urban Clap, The Urban Kitchen Catering Services are only discovery platforms for caterers, CaterNinja is an ecommerce delivery platform. They make the catering process hassle-free for the user.
Bigger fish to fry
Although CaterNinja started as a B2B company, they are now focusing more on the B2C model of business. It is presently serviceable in Bengaluru, Delhi NCR and Mumbai. The caterer aggregator plans to launch in Hyderabad and Kolkata by the end of this year. By March 2019, the company aims to be operational in 10 cities, and cover the top 25 cities by the end of 2019.