The food service industry in India is a $50 billion market and as expected, it is growing at an incredible rate of 16-20% every year. Since many popular startups such as Zomato, FoodPanda, TinyOwl and SpoonJoy are dominating this space, some new startups have sprouted out of thin air that are looking promising and full of potential even at early stages. One such food startup is Bueno Foods.
Started in 2012 by two batchmates, Rohan Arora and Pankaj Sharma, Bueno wants to deliver high quality and exotic food wherever and whenever at reasonable prices. They want to become one-stop online platform for quality international cuisine food.
It all started when they both met at FMS Delhi and subsequently discussed the plan with Chef V.S. Datta, Chef Vipul Arora & Chef Puneet Jain (Chef Datta is Bueno’s Advisor and both Chef Vipul & Chef Puneet are co-founders). Pankaj says, “All of us were driven by the common goal of creating a world class company in an area, which is close to our heart i.e. FOOD.” Thus Bueno was born.
Bueno is a Spanish word, which means “Goodness.” Pankaj says, “For us, Bueno Foods means Goodness Inside.” They want to provide access to all international cuisines – Lebanese, Mexican, American, Indian, Thai, Asian, Italian or any other European cuisine to spread goodness by delivering food at your doorstep.
They have tied up with Uber and even won foodtech crowd-pitch challenge in Bangalore recently, which was conducted by YourStory and Catapooolt.
Before starting Bueno, they conducted massive research to understand the food habits of their target audience – minimum income of INR. 600,000 P.A., age group between 22-35 years, and should have at least 18 months of professional experience.
The outcome was satisfying, as they were able to derive some key factors (perception or social approval, pricing, quality and consistency of experience), which influence customers’ decision-making while ordering international food.
Pankaj, who is the brain behind Bueno is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur & FMS Delhi with 15 years of experience working in Citi Group, JP Morgan & UBS. While his co-founder Rohan is a computer engineer from University of Rajasthan & has done MBA from FMS Delhi. He has 12 years of experience working with PepsiCo, HUL, Olam International & The Times Group.
Pankaj says, “One of the biggest constraints with experiencing international cuisine is cost and travel involved in visiting authentic options. This is what we are trying to solve. Also, convenience is a major driver of consumption (ecommerce as a surrogate case in point). We think that with ease of ordering and delivery, people would like to experience more international foods.”
Bueno Food is bootstrapped with an initial investment of INR. 2 Cr. Presently they have 6000 ever-growing unique base of customers and getting 100+ orders every day. As of now, they are operating in Gurgaon only and looking for funding for growing their business pan-India.
Pankaj says, “The average order size per person is INR. 300-500 with an order frequency of 1-2 times every week.” Since the prices of exotic foods at Bueno are extremely reasonable, he further adds, “We are not driven by irrational pricing just to create user base. Growth is important but not at the cost of profitability.” He even adds, “We are in the business of fulfilling a basic need.”
With line of food startups like Zomato, Foodpanda, Tinyowl, Yumist, FRSH, SpoonJoy, Holachef, Grofers, LocalBanya, BigBasket, and many more as their direct competitors, Bueno has succeeded exceedingly well in building their brand in the crowded industry. Their key success factors were identifying reliable partners and pivoting their business strategy according to their customers’ need.
As a startup, it is important to acknowledge that the road to success is not as smooth as it seems or most people think. There are loads of hurdles and obstacles blocking the success path. Most of the time, the success of startup depends on how you tackle or handle these situations in tough times.
While speaking about the initial stages of Bueno, Pankaj says, “Closing down our retail outlet in CyberCity was our toughest design because a new and significantly better, larger food court (Cyber Hub) came up in the vicinity and we decided to take the model completely online.”
He also said that success of their startup is based on their (founders) vision as well as collective effort of their team members. He says, “Vision is important to take the right direction and team effort is important for execution.”
Even though they did not achieve break-even, but 2015 has been a prosperous and successful year for Bueno, as they are minting INR. 40K profit per day. As for their goals, they want to achieve revenue of INR. 10 Cr this year.
Apart from just offering international food services, they are also booming in catering business for functions and events. Customers can select their menu or choose from the list of pre-designed international cuisine packages. However, they need to order one day in advance for smooth and hassle free delivery.
Before parting, Pankaj has a piece of advice for all the entrepreneurs – “Always take calculated risks. Be prepared for anything and everything.”