The food startup scene in India is as colourful as the number of spices in an Indian kitchen. There have been setbacks for early birds like Zomato as well as niche players like TinyOwl, but new ones continue to tickle the palates of customers with fresh offerings.
Twigly stepped into this overcrowded space a month ago as a restaurant-in-the-cloud, promising to deliver global gourmet meals at the doorstep. Today it announced seed funding worth US$200,000 from incubator TracxnLabs and several angel investors.
"We aim to be the next Yum Brands equivalent in the emerging food-tech world," says co-founder Sonal Minhas, referencing the parent company behind chains such as KFC and Pizza Hut. "Our model is comparatively very asset light, as we only invest in capacity building of products for which we believe we can do a better job. For other items, we act like a curated marketplace."
Located in the business hub of Gurgaon, right next to New Delhi, Twigly has a central kitchen and delivers "authentically prepared" food at prices that are 20-30 percent lower than those of regular restaurants. It claims to have notched up 500 customers already.
The seed funding for Twigly has come from angel investors Amit Gupta (co-founder of InMobi), Aloke Bajpai (founder of Ixigo), the founders of Delhivery, Ashish Kumar (founder of Staybees and Techriti), and partners and employees of SAIF Partners.
Too many chefs
In a sense, Twigly has bucked the trend. Many startups in the on-demand food space are struggling. TinyOwl and Zomato have seen layoffs. SpoonJoy is reportedly serving only high-density areas, and Dazo has shut shop.
Analysts see this as part of a funding slowdown for internet-based companies. Those who survive may do so due to niche and quality offerings.
To surge ahead, Twigly is focusing on the quality of ingredients and method of preparation; close control of the supply chain to ensure speedy delivery; and limited, often changing, menus.
Tracxn, an incubator backed by Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, is high on Twigly.
"Just as the ecommerce sector evolved out of its first wave to give us household names such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, the food tech space is evolving out of its first phase. This new wave of companies is learning to focus on both technology and their product, without compromising on either," says Neha Singh of Tracxn.
Twigly is trying to break existing models by providing nutritious food prepared with fresh and quality ingredients, and serving a variety of curated dishes made by professional chefs.
Co-founder Naresh Kacchi believes ordering convenience also plays a very important role in the overall experience. "At Twigly, we make sure that a user can order in three easy and intuitive steps and gets complete visibility into the delivery status," he says.
They are hoping that fine dining at home or, really, even at the office desk will succeed. "So far, this strategy has worked as we have received rave reviews on the taste, freshness, packaging and delivery experience of Twigly," says Sonal.
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