Whether it is an office canteen, college mess or hospital cafeteria, most of us will agree that the food dished out there is unappetising. And if the vendor promises a variety of cuisines, the dishes are so expensive that one cannot make it a daily affair. And in between are the unhealthy food choices, tardy service and incorrect bills. No wonder then that foodtech companies are cooking up a storm in institutional kitchens.
HungerBox, founded in 2016 by Uttam Kumar and Sandipan Mitra, is one such institutional foodtech company offering end-to-end F&B operations management for its clients – multinational companies, educational institutions, hospital cafeterias, food courts in malls, tech parks, multiplexes, et al. Daily orders on the HungerBox platform have crossed 500,000, with the startup growing 10% month-on-month from the 536 cafeterias that it is currently managing.
Sandipan Mitra, CEO & co-founder, HungerBox, says the objective is to consolidate demand on the one hand, and on the other, dovetail the preparation and supply of food in a dynamic and efficient manner, eliminating leakages and minimising food wastage. “We deploy 28 different technology products aimed at improving day-to-day food partner operations, inventory and cash management,” he says. “A catering business may use some technology but this is mostly confined to billings and kitchen operations, whereas HungerBox’s offering is tech-based management of the end-to-end food experience with features including AI-based personalisation, Health Module to track calorie consumption, etc.”
Though it is involved in the food business, HungerBox does not prepare food and therefore does not compete with its food partners. The platform serves as a bridge between the users and the food partners while also enabling facilitators (such as admin teams) with real-time data to make informed decisions. “We have deep partnerships with all our stakeholders including food vendor partners, helping them solve inefficiencies in their operations using our understanding of the food space and tech expertise,” he explains.
The startup has an asset-light model, focusing on unit economics from day one right down to the cafeteria level. “Our revenue model is commission–based and charged on the Gross Food Value (GFV) sold by our food partners. Commissions are typically 10%. We are currently at an ARR (accounting rate of return) of Rs 500 crore growing 3.5 times over last year. We closed at rS 143 crore in FY 2018,” he says. “We serve 125-plus clients in various sectors including IT services/technology, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, aviation and financial services, and annuity contracts of 3-5 years.” It is now looking at venturing into the South East Asian market.
Promoted by serial investors K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh’s GrowthStory, it has raised $16.5 million in funding from investors including Paytm, Sabre, Lionrock Capital, Neoplux, Kris Gopalakrishnan and NPTK.