Afew quick WhatsApp messages and suddenly a party happens. Drinks on the house, dinner from outside. Everybody is in the mood for biriyani, I tap Swiggy on my phone, scroll down to The Biriyani Co., a small local joint serving it as good as Hyderabad’s Paradise. It’s a weekday, they have a 20 per cent off. I have a coupon I can redeem from Swiggy. Paytm is offering another five per cent off. In the end, six of us have biriyani for what it would cost parking and popcorn in a mall. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth running kitchen at home at all.
Of course, these achhe din won’t last forever; the discounts are mainly due to the Rs 500 crore that Bessemer Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, SAIF Partners and Accel Partners have trusted Sriharsha Majety, 30, and Nandan Reddy, 29, the founders of Swiggy, with. (The app recently won the Outlook Social Media Awards for OSM Start-up of the Year).
The food delivery business is perhaps the riskiest of all start-ups, second only to the restaurant business itself—many apps mushroom, even more get roasted. But Swiggy, Zomato, Foodpanda and a dozen others are betting this market will be worth a sumptuous $15 billion soon and if you are good, there will be takers. Zomato claims to do over a million orders every month, Swiggy delivers from over 9,000 restaurants already. (But even the big ones can leave a bad taste. Foodpanda hit the headlines a few months ago as it suddenly sacked 500 employees citing automation, as also for some allegedly dubious business practices.)
The secret recipe is to stand out in the crowd. Zomato and Foodpanda let you order from almost anywhere in the city, but their delivery time can be long and there is a minimum-order rider. Sometimes the sheer number of restaurants they deliver from can overwhelm, you can keep scrolling...