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CyberChef: Not Your Usual Dabbawalla
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CyberChef offers middle eastern, continental, south east Asian and even regional cuisine from all over India, cooked by home chefs
Raghav who lives alone in Gurgaon has asked his cook to not come on evenings from Friday to Sundays. For, these are the times when he craves for that special ghar ka khana.
It is not that his parents have started parcelling him the food from his hometown in Himachal but it is the new startup in Gurgaon, CyberChef that delivers homemade continental or Lebanese to his house.
Neha Puri, co-founder of CyberChef, got the idea of starting this virtual marketplace for home cooked meals when she was doing her Masters in Marketing and Strategy from Warwick Business School, UK. There she saw how a lot of women of Indian origin would cook and sell Indian food to the students in the university. As a student, she absolutely loved it and it made her life so much easier. When she returned and saw the increasing cosmopolitan crowd in the metros, she put the two together to tap on the business opportunity and started the company along with her brother Anuj Puri in February 2015.
From the very beginning she was sure she doesn’t want to hire professional chefs. “Home chefs offer the novelty of changing the menu every day which lets us offer more variety to our customers on a daily basis.” Another thing, she adds, is these women keep trying new recipes, and some are their family recipes passed on from generation to generation. “We would never get a chance to try such heirloom recipes if it wasn’t for these home cooks.”
This is essentially why their business shouldn’t be compared with the Indian dabbawallas. For, they don’t offer dal, roti and sabzi but middle eastern, continental, south east Asian and even regional cuisine from all over India.
She started with 25 home chefs, all housewives, in Gurgaon. In two months they have got 30 more chefs and expanded their base to Mumbai. They do more than 1,000 orders on a monthly basis, wherein the price range for a meal is between ₹150-275.
The advantage of this business model is it doesn’t only offer affordable and home cooked food to the customers but also gives an opportunity to the housewives to become entrepreneurs, with whom they work on a revenue sharing agreement.
Anjali Adya, a Gurgaon-based home chef, who has been with CyberChef since its beginning says, “This has been a great opportunity because they encourage me to try different recipes and master my skill. This has also helped me get market access and my kids are proud that their mother has now become a ‘professional’.”
The responsibility of the home chefs is to cook the best meals and try innovative recipes, packaging, delivery, marketing and logistics is taken care by CyberChef.
It is these women who act as brand ambassadors for CyberChef and spread the word in their social circles. “If they grow, we grow with them,” says Adya.
One of the main concerns of being in this business, shares Puri, is the problem of time. People don’t want to wait for too long for their food. They should get it within 30-40 minutes of ordering. So, getting the right logistics can make or break this business.
Moving on, Puri wants to focus on expanding their base to Pune, Bangalore and South Delhi and get 150-200 chefs at each location by end of this year.