Many people have turned to cooking in a big way during the lockdown. While some people have recognised their culinary skills, there are those who still cannot understand the difference between cumin and fennel. Getting hygienic and healthy food has now become a challenge, especially for those living away from their families.
Identifying this need, college mates Suryanshu Panda and Epari Pritam launched ChefJunction, a website that enables users to order home-cooked meals.
Founded in August 2020, the Bhubaneswar-based startup aims to help consumers order homemade meals and also provides a platform to home chefs to make a living.
According to Suryanshu and Pritam, both BBM graduates (class of 2020) from Xavier’s University, Bhubaneswar, they began their entrepreneurial journey when they realised many people did not want to order food from restaurants amid the pandemic as maintaining hygiene has been of utmost importance. Apart from this, for some people, cooking became a difficult chore due to work from home.
Speaking to YourStory, Suryanshu says,
“We are a food delivery platform from where customers can order hygienic home-cooked food, prepared by home chefs, though our website. Our struggle in hostel to get good food, the craving for “ghar ka khaana”, and eventually the hesitancy to order from restaurants during the pandemic paved way to the birth of ChefJunction.”
Ensuring good meals amid pandemic
According to the co-founder, users across the city can order snacks, lunch, dinner, and bakery items through the website at a pocket-friendly price.
Suryanshu explains that before listing a home chef on the platform, the team tests the food prepared by them and lists them only after ensuring the taste and hygiene of the food.
“Before we sign a person for cooking food for our customers, the first thing we see is what kind of oils and spices they are using. If a cook wants to join, they call us and we get to taste their food. If we like it, we get them a licence under the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is mandatory for any food business operator under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The licence remains valid for one year,” he adds.
Suryanshu says the duo always wanted to start up their own business. When the co-founders identified the need of healthy food amid the pandemic, they pooled in Rs 1.5 lakh from their families to start ChefJunction.
He adds that ChefJunction has a hometown advantage as the co-founders are from the city. “Bhubaneswar is my hometown and we are very well aware of people’s taste here and the market situation. It’s also easy for people to relate to us and get in touch with whenever needed.”
Business and more
ChefJunction has six members taking care of end-to-end operations. It has so far signed up 30 home cooks across the city, and also has 12 delivery boys who deliver the food on bikes.
In just a month of launch, the startup claims to have delivered more than 1,200 orders. The founder also added the delivery personnel take necessary precautions such as wearing gloves, mask, etc., to maintain hygiene amid the pandemic.
Speaking about the business model, the co-founder explains that ChefJunction does not charge the home chefs for listing them on the platform. The startup earns its revenue by charging 15-20 percent margin on the food provided by the homechefs.
“We are currently looking for investors and are planning to pitch our business idea to them to generate funds for our future plans,” Suryanshu says.
According to a report by Google and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the foodtech industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25-30 percent to become an $8 billion market by the end of 2022.
Suryanshu says that ChefJunction competes with foodtech giants such as Zomato and Swiggy indirectly. The startup gains an edge over its competitors due to the fact that it delivers homemade food, which ensures quality and hygiene.
Speaking about future plans, Suryanshu says that ChefJunction is looking to expand its market to the major towns and cities of Odisha, and also to establish its presence in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. After achieving a good market presence, the startup will also launch its own Android and IoS app.
“In the long run, it’s mainly about creating a sustainable business model for ChefJunction and serving as a platform to cater to the needs of the larger community. Since the market is volatile and ever changing, we want our venture to be agile and ready to face the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) market without compromising with our values,” he adds.
Edited by Megha Reddy
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