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Chef Sanjeev Kapoor backs home-food startup ZuperMeal

~An app and delivery service for home-cooked meals empowering women~

To create a value proposition for the growing Indian passion for eating out, along with addressing the social cause of women empowerment and entrepreneurship, Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and Ravi Saxena, promoters of leading kitchen appliances firm Wonderchef, along with their 2 foreign partners have joined hands to together invest in the two-month old Mumbai-based food startup ZuperMeal. They will be investing up to $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) for an undisclosed stake. ZuperMeal is a marketplace for home cooked food. Ravi Saxena is one of the leading hospitality business experts and is known for having built companies like Sodexo, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Yellow Chilli Restaurant Franchise and now Wonderchef from scratch.

Launched by Pallavi Saxena along with co-founders Balasubramanian A and Prabhakar Banerjee, both engineers and IIM MBAs, ZuperMeal connects homemakers who love to cook, to eager consumers who like healthy and tasty home cooked food. The app helps consumers to have their favorite homemade food at the touch of a phone. Not only this, the company also gets freshly cooked food picked up and delivered, and does the payments settlement between the consumers and providers. As per Ravi Saxena, Managing Director of Wonderchef and one of the investors in ZuperMeal, “We decided to invest in ZuperMeal as it reflects our values, and leverages the skill set one has developed in building Sodexo, Wonderchef and other businesses over the last 20 years.”

The ZuperMeal network will unlock the talent and culinary potential of millions of homemakers and help them reach out to the taste buds of millions of Indians, who are on the move. Moreover ZuperMeal would keep the rich culinary tradition of India alive by enabling homemakers to sell their traditional savories, which is an art that is getting lost. “Everyone wants to eat homemade delicacies as they are without additives and preservatives, use healthier oil and do not have added colours. But few are making them now. This potential needs to be tapped to give a boost to the economy of the country,” added Ravi Saxena.

“ZuperMeal is not a delivery service alone. It is a complete food business where talent is identified, their best dishes are curated, priced and presented by us” said Pallavi Saxena, Founder of ZuperMeal. She added, “Every Indian woman is the Wonderchef of her family. The focus is not restricted to the top 10 cities but includes smaller towns where we would not only encourage home chefs to make her meals, but also her specialties like thepla, laddoo, modak, litti, bati, pickles and cakes.”

According to National Restaurant Association of India in 2013, the eating out economy in the country, both organized and unorganized is estimated at $48 billion of which organized market was estimated at $13 billion then. With the per-capita income breaching the magic figure of USD 1500 per annum, this segment is set to boom in the country. Eating out is a growing pie but is expensive owing to the brick and mortar infrastructure of the restaurant, rising rentals and increasing service tax and value added taxes constituting over 20% of your food bill. “Eat Out at Home is the new revolution” said Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

“We will look at carving out a significant market share of this pie. The differentiator would be our cutting edge technology both for consumer interface as well as for management of logistics” said Balasubramanian A, COO, ZuperMeal.

Having launched operations at Powai in Mumbai two months back, the user-friendly android app is making waves for its food taste and quality. Investment from Wonderchef partners has encouraged ZuperMeal to expand its operations. “Funds would be utilized to upgrade our technology, expand the zuper-hub network, add talent to the team and create brand awareness” said Pallavi Saxena. She further added, “ZuperMeal aims to reach sales of Rs. 4500 crore across 500 towns with 60000 home chefs by 2020. To achieve our goals, the business model would need 30 mn USD of investment.”

Currently, ZuperMeal has 150 homemakers registered on the platform and dishes out an average of 60 to 70 meals a day, earning a net margin of 15%. “This is an impressive growth for a new business within 2 months of its launch. The focus now is on social media connect and hyper-local marketing” says Prabhakar Banerjee, CMO, ZuperMeal.

Expressing his delight for being associated with ZuperMeal and assuring all support and knowledge to the venture, Celebrity Chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, said, "Women empowerment and skill development are key priorities for our PM, Shri Narendra Modi. ZuperMeal is empowering Indian women to monetize the skill they already have and take pride in the fact that their food is being recognized. It gives them self-respect, and creates a positive balance in the family where the children can proper.”

"Our idea of empowering homemakers through ZuperMeal is not just transactions, but we will also teach them various things regarding hygiene, food safety, storage and other health related topics. Ultimately this is a skillset; the product that they already have and we are enabling them to earn through it”, Chef Kapoor further added.

Ravi Saxena, Managing Director of Wonderchef said “We have already experienced the joy of women empowerment. Wonderchef works with over 35,000 women entrepreneurs across 800 towns and cities of the country, helping them create a business of their own. Through this strategic investment, ZuperMeal has the opportunity to leverage the backbone of Wonderchef and scale-up quickly across the country. They can grow the fastest in their industry, with the least cost thanks to Wonderchef network.” An optimistic Saxena aptly concludes, “We may forge a win-win partnership between the two brands. ZuperMeal can create a Wonderchef out of every passionate homemaker by grooming and guiding them, while these entrepreneurs would fulfill their promise of making healthy, tasty food using Wonderchef appliances and cookware."

A very interesting area as per Chef Kapoor is the opportunity to boost Food Processing at the household level through ZuperMeal. Food Tech is one the highest priorities in India, but unlike European countries, most of our rich supply of fruits and vegetables goes waste. This is where ZuperMeal would make the difference. Better fed families, higher earning women is our dream.

Prabhakar Banerjee further added an interesting insight “Our research shows that over the last 25 years, the time spent in kitchen for making savories other than daily meals has fallen from 3.5 hours per day to less than 40 minutes per day. The consumption however has increased. ZuperMeal creates an incredible barter system between homes who only cook one thing, earn from it, and buy the rest of the homemade goods from this money. When this happens, we would believe that a common woman is able to benefit from the digital revolution.”



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