Daalchini Technologies provides instant, affordable, healthy home cooked food to corporate employees through IoT-enabled ‘phygital’ (physical+digital) vending machines. It is trying to revolutionise the tiffin services using vending machines. Prerna Kalra, founder of this unique venture, talks to Sudhir Chowdhry on its key focus areas and expansion plans. Excerpts:
When and how was Daalchini founded and what is the business area?
Daalchini was started in early 2018. Daalchini stands tall on three pillars of strength:
Daalchini App: Users can discover the nearby kiosks, browse the products placed in thatand book them after paying digitally.
Daalchini Kiosks with heating zone serves like a 24×7 unmanned cafe with a large variety of affordable, healthy home food.
Unique supply chain driven by technology allows us to serve six meals a day through our kiosks.
The problem we solve: With our mobile app and unique distribution channel of IoT based smart vending machines, we offer fresh home food, snacks and beverages in offices, hospitals, hostels, co-working and co-living spaces, etc. We raised Rs 3.5 crore in the seed round lead by Artha Venture Funds.
What is the pain point that Daalchini is trying to solve?
Only 21.49% of total establishments and 13.41% of non-agricultural establishments in India are owned by women. We are creating entrepreneurial opportunities for micro-women entrepreneurs through Daalchini franchisee. We have 150-plus franchisees/partners. More than 60% of our partners are women. With 69% of urban working professionals not eating home-cooked food when out for work, Daalchini provides affordable, instant and quality home food. While customers are ready to pay for higher delivery charges when ordering occasionally from a restaurant, they want sub-dollar meals for everyday consumption, hence, Daalchini saves them not only delivery time, but also Rs 30-40 delivery cost.
What is the USP and are there any competitors. How big is the market?
First, we have technology first processes—starting from products available in the machine to the refilling and consumption, everything is monitored and handled through technology.
Second, there is inclusion through micro-entrepreneurs – our approach to creating a network via micro-entrepreneurs especially women is the biggest USP as it creates inclusion.
Third, we have customer-centric services—our focus on improving the services for customers via AI and ML-based menu/demand projection gives us an edge.
The Indian workforce grows by 12 million people every year. This increase in the workforce has led to an increase in the disposable incomes. There are 377.1 million individuals living in urban cities in India. The bottom quintile of this population (in urban cities) spends 53% of their disposable income on food while the top quintile spends 41%. This is opening the door for many new opportunities in the food and beverage industry.
And, the revenue model for your venture?
Our primary source of revenue is from sales of food from the kiosk. We also promote upcoming healthy food brands and earn from them via marketing provided via our distribution channel. Currently, we provide fresh-food, snacks and beverages through unmanned smart vending machines, Daalchini Kiosks, at 150-plus locations in four cities in India. We aim to be present in the top 10 cities by the next financial year. Our target is to have 1500-plus vending machines enabled with fresh home food serving users in offices, hospitals, hostels, hotels, apartments, metro stations, educational institutes, etc. We target young professionals and students looking for affordable and instant food.
Any immediate challenges that you foresee?
Daalchini is a unique and innovative product and solution for the most basic need of millennials, that is the accessibility to affordable home-cooked food. Our IoT smart vending machine based solution is an innovative way of solving a problem growing in the market. Though the needs and market size both are big enough to capture the segment, there may be uncertainty in customers’ minds to perceive this as a solution immediately.